What TCK offers for school lunch programs:
- Serve fresh, local, organic, seasonal, non-GMO food
- Purchase within USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) budget and exceed nutritional guidelines
- Daily scratch-cooked meals from an on-site kitchen
- Dedicated head chef and staff
- Kitchens partner with local community chef
- Partnerships with organic farmers and purveyors
- Strong commitment to, and education around, zero waste
- Broad-based community involvement
- Leadership development through TCK Ambassadors Program
- Food literacy through Garden and Nutrition Curriculum
So the TCK provides genuinely nutritious meals, cooked fresh on-site for the same cost as the frozen, processed, mass-produced institutional food served in other public schools. From Executive Chef Justin Everett:
“Most people don’t realize that GMOs are everywhere, especially in processed foods. By embracing fresh, local, organic, non-GMO food, this program successfully disrupts the cycle of unhealthy, pre-packaged, heat and serve meals that dominate school kitchens.” (3)
The short-term health effects of GMO are known. A whole body of research has found GMO implicated in a host of chronic and even life-threatening diseases. Long-term impacts have yet to be seen.
In the 2 years of the pilot program from 2013-15, the schools involved saw “a steep decrease in disciplinary cases, increased attendance and a greater sense of community”.
In 2012, the USDA revised its nutrition standards for schools to cut sodium, use grains that are at least 51% whole grains, and add more fruits and vegetables to both breakfasts and lunches.
Earlier this year, the sodium and whole grain requirements were reversed to 2010 standards. (4)