Marin Organic School Lunch

The Marin Organic School Lunch and Gleaning Program is helping to transform school lunch choices for our kids. Seven years ago, Marin Organic saw the potential in creatively connecting local farms to local schools to help our communities thrive. Now this extraordinary program each week enables 14,000 students from more than half of Marin’s schools to eat organic foods grown in Marin, while cultivating a strong connection to place through our innovative Farm Day Program for these school children.

When Marin Organic was formed, a tiny number of schools were developing school gardens and none were imagining it would be possible to create a local source of food supply for their lunch programs.

– Steve Kinsey, Supervisor, County of Marin

Feed Your Students Well : with the best ingredients possible, delivered to your school

Join the Marin Organic Glean Team! : from Marin Organic farms to your schools and community centers

Learn And Teach From Our Farms : with our Farm Days Program and Student Internships

Collaborate With Other School Chefs : with the Marin Organic School Chef Collaborative

Join Our Partner Schools : with over half of all Marin schools and dozens of community centers participating in our program

Feed Your Students Well : with the best ingredients possible, delivered to your school

Each week, we deliver a combination of purchased and gleaned foods from Marin Organic farms to participating schools throughout the county, serving more than half of our public and private schools in Marin. Each school’s purchase is supplemented with the week’s donated gleaned foods which offsets their costs, enabling all schools to choose the best ingredients possible while staying within their limited budgets.

All Marin Organic foods are certified organic, from Marin County farmers, and delivered from farms to schools often on the same day and always within 24 hours. Now that’s local! Marin Organic acts as the liaison between farmers and schools, as the fiscal sponsor, as well as the distributor. An updated product availability list is sent to participating schools on Thursdays, then all purchased and gleaned foods are delivered to schools and community centers with our biodiesel-powered truck on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Gleaned food is produce which would otherwise be left in the fields because it doesn’t meet the strict aesthetic requirements of restaurants and retail markets. This can account for up to 20% of what is grown, and throughout the year may include potatoes, squashes, spinach, leeks, beets, carrots, arugula, lettuces, meats, eggs, yogurt and more!

So far over 160,000 pounds of local certified organic products have been gleaned and delivered to participating schools, camps, and under served communities throughout Marin, offsetting their costs and therefore allowing them to serve local and organic options while staying within their limited budgets. Each week the program enables 10,000 children to eat organic foods grown from Marin soils.

Learn And Teach From Our Farms : with our Farm Days Program and Student Internships

Marin Organic Farm Days put students to work, celebrating the abundance by harvesting glean able foods for donation, while meeting curriculum standards for students of all ages. Our curriculum is modeled after the California Science Standards, creating opportunities for students, teachers, and farmers to work and learn together while building soil and harvesting the bounty. The best way for us to learn about our food is to harvest it ourselves from our neighborhood farms!

The ideal Marin Organic Farm Day builds powerful connections for kids by fully integrating educational farm visits with engaging cafeteria exhibits for lunchtime learning, farm curriculum aligned with classroom teaching, take-home materials for parents, and follow-up opportunities to further their farm-to-food connection. A typical Farm Day for first graders may include tasting the garden’s rainbow, role playing the needs of plants, milking a goat, and playing games that engage all of our senses. Sixth graders may investigate watershed ecology and play the integrated pest management game while harvesting food for their own school. High school students will learn the ins and outs of organic farming, from compost and soil building, to inter-planting and crop rotations, all while gleaning real foods for their own school lunch or favorite community center.

Marin Organic School Lunch Internships : educate students about the value of truly sustainable agriculture in our county and empowers them to become student advocates within their own communities. Marin Organic Interns work closely with staff to co-create fun, hands-on, and creative projects that support our work with School Lunch, Farm Days, the Glean Team, and within schools and classrooms. Projects may include teaching kids on Farm Days, gleaning from farms with adult volunteers, designing and installing educational exhibits in cafeterias, collaborating with school administrators and chefs to green their schools, and learning the ins and outs of our innovative non-profit from the office.

Collaborate With Other School Chefs : with the Marin Organic School Chef Collaborative

The Marin Organic School Chef Collaborative hosts quarterly potlucks giving school chefs and food service directors an opportunity to share effective strategies that enable them to feed their students well. Dedicated school lunch leaders are now working together to transform school lunch choices, from the inside out.

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