School Lunch Reform


Our vision has always been to mirror the lessons of the kitchen and garden classroom in the lunchroom. In 2004, the Chez Panisse Foundation partnered with Berkeley Unified School District to design a model for this vision. With the support of the district, we set about to change what all 10,000 Berkeley public school children eat for lunch in school, and how they learn about food, every day. 
After three years of on-the-ground work in Berkeley, we have transformed the school meal program. The new Dining Commons at King Middle School now serves as the central kitchen for all 16 schools in the district, providing 8,000 meals per day, made from scratch, with wholesome, fresh, and seasonal ingredients. Read about our accomplishments and lessons learned


In October 2005, the Edible Schooylard Project (then named the Chez Panisse Foundation) provided a grant to the Berkeley Unified School District to hire Ann Cooper, a chef and former Kellogg Food and Society Fellow, as the Director of Nutrition Services for the district. Through Cooper's persistence, we eliminated nearly all processed foods in the district and introduced fresh and organic foods to the daily menu, while remaining within the district's food service budget. Read our whitepaper, Lunch Matters. Through support from the Edible Schoolyard Project, Center for Ecoliteracy and Rodale Publishing, the Center for Weight and Health at the University of California, Berkeley conducted a three-year study to evaluate the Initiative's impact on student attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors towards food. The Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Center for Weight and Health, University of California at Berkeley announced their evaluation report of the School Lunch Initiative, Changing Students' Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behavior in Relation to Food: An Evaluation of the School Lunch Initiative, in the Fall of 2010. 


Download the Executive Summary

Download the full report