The Center for Ecoliteracy has left an unprecedented mark in the movement for green schooling. Based in Berkley, California, this non-profit organization is spearheading the cause for a healthier youth. Their goal is to make schools and communities in the United States more ecoliterate, or able to understand how to create a more sustainable and enjoyable life by way of the natural systems in our environment. Among a few of the Center’s objectives for change are school gardens, school lunches, professional development seminars, school curricula, and consulting services. By promoting the consumption of fresh, local food, children are taught the countless benefits on their bodies, their communities, and the environment.
Generated in collaboration with CEL, “California Thursdays” was piloted on October 23, 2014. Fifteen California school districts came together in the determined preparation for this initiative, where fresh, locally grown foods are served out of participating school cafeterias on Thursdays. This once a week event is a small step toward the drive for major change in school lunch programs. Rather than shipping locally grown produce to other states for processing and packaging into microwavable meals, the leaders behind California Thursdays are promoting a healthier and more practical approach of farm to cafeteria table.
The Center for Ecoliteracy website offers a plethora of resources as a frontrunner for change. A wealth of knowledge, instructional tools and strategies, essays and books are available for teachers, school staff, community leaders, parents, and students. A fantastic planning framework is offered in Rethinking School Lunch, and includes a detailed map of key members and pathways to success in your school. Cooking with California Food in K-12 Schools is a cookbook and guide to menu planning comprised of recipes, preparation and presentation notes, as well as class instruction guidance for implementing change. Both of these resources are free and downloadable.
Though California catapulted the idea, the notion to rethink school lunches is not limited to one state. The Center for Ecoliteracy is a role model for other states to replicate, and there’s no better time than now.