Compton Unified School District's new Farm to School program has been functioning and expanding since February 2004. The Compton Unified School District has thirty-nine schools and an average of 93.8 percent of students receive free or reduced price meals. With nearly 100 percent of elementary students in Compton eating at least one meal at school per day, CUSD has the opportunity to significantly impact the health of its children. For this reason, the district's new food director, Tracie Thomas (formerly of Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District) was inspired to implement a farm to school project as a way of offering kids exposure to nutritious food choices and fostering healthy behavior.
Each day, students have the option of choosing either a hot entree or the salad bar for lunch. The produce comes from Garden Patch, the same group of farmers worked with the Santa Monica Malibu Farmers' Market Salad Bar Program. Garden Patch delivers to CUSD's centralized warehouse where district staff pick up the produce and deliver the items to the individual schools. Currently, one new school receives a salad bar approximately every month. If the program continues to follow this ambitious rollout plan, all twenty-four CUSD elementary schools will have a salad bar by May 17th, 2006.
The Compton Nutrition Services provided the funds necessary to begin implementation of the farm to school project during the 2003-2004 school year. This occurred mainly due to the priorities and funding choices of the department, but it the Nutrition Services department also benefits from receiving a slightly higher than normal reimbursement rate from the government. This program benefits from a strong commitment to it at the district and departmental level, the high participation in the salad bar program, funding from the Nutrition Network, and careful management and purchasing decisions. In addition, the California Nutrition Network provided funding to do nutrition education in thirteen schools. This enabled project coordinators to create a holistic farm to school program that focused on educating about and providing children with fruits and vegetables both in the cafeteria and the classroom.
"Healthy Food, Healthy Kids: Southern California Farmers and Food Service in Partnership" is a workshop showcasing the Compton Unified School District's Farm to School Program. This LA area farm to school workshop will be held June 9, 2005 at CUSD's Enterprise Middle School. For more information, agenda, and registration go to our web site.
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