PRESS RELEASE Thursday, October 29, 2020Contact: John SasakiCommunications Director 510-214-2080[email protected]
Oakland, CA — During a year in which Oakland Unified School District had to completely rethink school meals because of the pandemic, OUSD is proud to show off its new and unique Central Kitchen that’s approaching completion. The facility, which is located at 29th and West streets in West Oakland, will serve up to 35,000 student meals per day once it’s operational. But it’s not just a kitchen capable of feeding all OUSD students who receive student meals, it will also be a one-acre urban farm and school facility that educates students in farming, nutrition and the culinary arts, among other topics.
The kitchen will provide fresh-cooked, non-frozen meals directly to students with minimal packaging and waste, as part of a broader, district-wide nutritional services master plan to enhance student health and wellness. The kitchen is equipped with warehouse-sized refrigeration rooms to support meal preparation that is centered around an abundance of fresh produce, natural ingredients, and locally sourced and organic products where possible. The project is designed to help support a variety of educational opportunities for all district students including health and wellness, science, biology, natural and environmental science, culinary arts, technology, and similar activities.
One of the design partners was the Center for Ecoliteracy which helped conceive the mission of the Central Kitchen, Rethinking School Lunch Oakland (RSLO). It aims to dramatically transform nutrition services by shifting from a predominantly heat-and-serve model to freshly prepared meals and by connecting nutrition, education, and community at schools across the district. RSLO launched in 2010, when the Center for Ecoliteracy conducted a comprehensive feasibility study. The final report provided a detailed roadmap for districtwide school food reform.
Of course, with a revamped nutrition services plan for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years because the pandemic closed down the schools to in-person instruction, OUSD’s Nutrition Services team created a system that has handed out well over four million student meals since mid-March. This is food that Oakland students depend on, with more than 70% of students qualifying for free and reduced price lunches before the pandemic, and thousands of them receiving breakfast and supper through their schools, as well. This new facility will enable the District to serve all the students more efficiently, with less waste and more healthful ingredients.
“There’s nothing more satisfying and rewarding than seeing a bold vision come to fruition. Rethinking School Lunch Oakland is the embodiment of what it means to truly serve the whole child,” said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. “With the Central Kitchen, Education Center, and Instructional Farm complex completed, we will soon begin to provide fresh meals to students and contribute to the health of our communities and the planet.”
The Central Kitchen is a product of Measure J, a bond passed by the voters in 2012. Despite it not being completed, the facility has already stepped into action supporting the Alameda County Community Food Bank in its mission to help Oakland students through the twice-weekly grab and go meal distribution events that have been underway since March.
For Videos Showing Different Parts of the Central Kitchen, Click Here###About the Oakland Unified School DistrictIn California’s most diverse city, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is dedicated to creating a learning environment where “Every Student Thrives!” More than half of our students speak a non-English language at home. And each of our 81 schools is staffed with talented individuals uniting around a common set of values: Students First, Equity, Excellence, Integrity, Cultural Responsiveness and Joy. We are committed to preparing all students for college, career and community success.
To learn more about OUSD’s Full Service Community District focused on academic achievement while serving the whole child in safe schools, please visit OUSD.org and follow us @OUSDnews.
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