Since its inception in 2010, the California Food for California Kids initiative has incorporated engaging, hands-on professional development as an essential component of improving school food service programs and increasing job satisfaction.
The Center for Ecoliteracy recognizes that professional development is especially important when making a transition to using fresh ingredients. One goal of the professional development program is to provide nutrition services staffs which are cooking at a commercial scale with the training and support they need to offer meals featuring freshly prepared and California-sourced food. A second goal is to encourage educators to teach students about the relationship between food, health, culture, and the environment and to integrate classrooms, cafeterias, and school gardens.
The California Food for California Kids initiative offers a variety of professional development resources designed for different skill levels and learning types. School districts in the California Thursdays Network are provided with an enhanced tool kit of resources and hands-on training opportunities.
Conferences and Trainings
Center for Ecoliteracy hosted three statewide California Food for California Kids conferences, starting in 2011, for innovative nutrition service directors. The conferences featured hands-on professional development and shared best practices. As part of its Rethinking School Lunch program efforts focused on individual school districts, the initiative includes tailored trainings to nutrition services staffs and educators.
California Thursdays Orientation
All school districts invited to participate in California Thursdays attend day-long orientations that include a summary of available resources, hands-on cooking opportunities, media training, and sessions led by innovative school food service directors who share successful practices.
Professional Development Academies
With more than two decades of leadership development, the Center for Ecoliteracy recognizes the importance of supporting leaders at multiple levels of scale. In the 2016–17 school year, the Center will pilot a new series of California Food for California Kids Professional Development Academies.