By FoodCorps Service Member Danielle Nahal
There are few places more exciting to be as a FoodCorps service member than Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). The district has made incredible strides both in their school garden programs as well as their school lunch initiatives, where the California Thursdays program has begun serving entirely California sourced, scratch-cooked meals every week across more than 80 schools.
While there are so many exciting programs at Oakland Unified that deserve attention, I want to share a story from one program that goes hand in hand with California Thursdays: the Garden to Cafeteria Pilot Program.
The Garden to Cafeteria Program is a brand-new initiative at OUSD, where vegetables grown by students in school gardens are used directly in school lunches. Launched this past Earth Week after more than a year of planning and policy making, the program featured the inclusion of both salad greens and fresh herbs into the school lunch menu. Though still new to the district, this project has had a profound effect on both my students in the way they connect food to where it comes from, and surprisingly, on me, as it provided connection in a completely different way.