California Food for California Kids®

An initiative with ideas, models, and resources focused on California that can be adapted in other places and communities.

California Food for California Kids®

The Center for Ecoliteracy's California Food for California Kids initiative is an example of our strategy of working at multiple levels of scale: locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. While the resources described here are especially directed to our home state, California, we hope that they will provide ideas and inspiration for communities seeking to incorporate fresh, seasonal food in school meals; preserve the environment; promote local and regional economies and agriculture; and teach children where their food comes from and how it reaches their tables.

To date, the initiative has included three statewide conferences, engagement with individual districts and networks of districts, strategic consultations, and the creation of many resources, such as the acclaimed cookbook and professional development guide Cooking with California Food in K–12 Schools and a book of recipes scaled and tested for reimbursable school meals (School Meals Featuring California Foods). 

California Thursdays®, a program of the California Food for California Kids initiative, is a collaboration between the Center for Ecoliteracy and participating school districts to serve healthy, freshly prepared school meals made from California-grown food.

Some ways to join the movement to increase fresh, local, and seasonal school food: 

  • Make changes in your menus and recipes 
  • Offer professional development for your nutrition services staff
  • Adopt a new procurement system 
  • Collaborate with other districts in areas such as purchasing and professional development 
  • Conduct a feasibility study
  • Work to change local, state, and national policies to encourage districts to purchase from your state's farmers 
  • Implement a marketing strategy to inform students, staff, and your local community about all the great work you are doing 
  • Encourage teachers and school garden instructors to incorporate lessons focused on themes of food, culture, health and the environment.

California Food for California Kids is generously supported by TomKat Charitable Trust, U.S. Department of Agriculture, California Department of Food and Agriculture, The California Endowment, Panta Rhea, Tides Foundation, New Priorities Foundation, and donors to the Center for Ecoliteracy.