California Thursdays is a collaboration between the Center for Ecoliteracy and a network of public school districts to serve healthy, freshly prepared school meals made from California-grown food.
The idea behind California Thursdays is powerful yet simple: Beginning with committing to serve a freshly prepared meal made from California-grown food just one day a week, districts gradually revamp their practices so that fresh, healthy food can become an everyday event. It’s important to schools because healthier meals support the well-being and academic achievement of students. It’s important to communities because local hiring and purchasing benefit regional economies and the environment.
It’s impact is growing. So far, our network includes nearly 3,000 schools in 71 districts across the state that enroll 1,851,000 students, and serve over 309 million meals to every year.
A highlight of the program is “Collective Action Days” when the entire network serves California Thursdays meals, hosts school community events, and joins a statewide media campaign to celebrate the program’s collective impact––all on the same day. California Thursdays has received extensive local, state, and national media coverage and was honored by the State of California in 2015 through HR15, a resolution that commended the program and urged all schools in California to join.
To support the program, the Center for Ecoliteracy provides professional development workshops and marketing strategies, and develops and shares resources that include standards-based educational materials linking classrooms with school gardens and cafeterias.