The verdict is in and it’s just what we hoped for – kids really DO love whole grains!
Although there has been much speculation about kids purported rejection of whole grain school lunch options, over at Oakland’s Allendale Elementary, the kids had another opinion to express.
In an official “dot” survey taken over the course of three lunch periods, the kids at Allendale Elementary overwhelmingly voted that they either “loved” or “liked” the whole grain Mac n’ Cheese they taste tested with our OWW elbow pasta. You can imagine how our hearts nearly burst when the photo of our certified sticker approval arrived.
Although many have cautioned us of the difficulties we face in making affordable, delicious, and nutritious local whole grains available to local schools due to a plethora of obstacles such as: distribution and budget issues, kids reception of whole grain, institutional restrictions, et al – we have remained committed to our vision.
Late this summer, we reached out to the Oakland Unified School District – renowned for their involvement and leadership in the Farm to School and “local food for local kids” movements – to see if there might be a way to partner to taste test our 100% California-grown whole grain pasta. We saw our whole grain elbow pasta as the perfect fit for their “California Thursday” program – a collaboration with the Center for Ecoliteracy that highlights freshly prepared school meals sourced entirely from California growers and producers.
Although the logistics of the taste test took until December to sort out, we are tremendously grateful to have received support from both Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) in making it happen – which just goes to show what is possible when community bands together to achieve shared goals.
Since the 2009-2010 school year, OUSD and CAFF have partnered “in an on-going process of community engagement with regards to improving school food for Oakland students.” With the help of a grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, this partnership has resulted in the implementation of a Farm to School program which includes: investigating the feasibility of contracting with local vendors that feature sustainable products, increasing local produce procurement, increasing the number of school menus that incorporate and identify local produce, educating school communities about the importance of local farms, and much more.
We are honored that Community Grains has had the opportunity to participate in these endeavors. This is just the beginning of where we hope to go in developing our relationship with local schools and in educating on the importance of true whole grains in school lunches, but it is a very exciting beginning at that.