To: Conejo Valley Superintendent & School Board

Fresh instead of processed food for CVUSD school lunches!

We the undersigned request the Conejo Valley USD Nutritional Office to agree that all CVUSD school cafeterias (or a at minimum a pilot program of one elementary, middle, and/or high school) where the staff of those CVUSD kitchens (and prep kitchen if need be) to be trained in ‘scratch cooking’ (fresh cooking) and for fresh food to be purchased and prepared for school lunches in those schools instead of pre-packaged and re-heated food. The funding to train the staff will be donated if the district cannot afford to train the staff with the agreement that the Nutritional Office at CVUSD will fully support the scratch cooking project (buy fresh food, allow staff to be adequately trained, utilize menus developed by the training institute that meet USRDA guidelines, promote the new fresh food menu, etc).

Why is this important?

As concerned parents of the Conejo Valley Unified School District, we are writing to enlist your support in cultivating a healthier environment for our children. 72% of the US population is overweight or obese with one in three children overweight or obese. Obesity is the leading cause of death in America after smoking. Unless measures are taken to reduce obesity and improve the health of youth today many may live shorter lives than their parents for the first time ever.

The Centers for Disease Control have stated: "Schools may have an ethical obligation to act in response to the precipitous increase in the incidence of obesity among children. Because children are required to spend half their waking hours in school and because they consume a substantial portion of their daily food there, school is a logical focus for efforts to encourage healthy dietary behaviors to prevent obesity and its consequent individual and collective costs...Opponents of school food regulation argue that people have the right to choose the foods they eat. However, we structure and regulate many student activities in the school setting and do not consider doing so an abridgment of children’s rights....For example, parents would rarely serve candy alongside vegetables on the dinner table and expect their children to choose the vegetables instead of the candy. Similarly, school authorities are responsible for offering foods from which the child can select but limiting choices to those that provide nutritional benefit rather than harm."

Currently the majority of the food served in the CVUSD cafeterias is processed, re-heated meals which are high in sodium, preservatives, additives, and low in fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, freshly cooked meats, whole grains/pastas, etc. We want to have the staff of CVUSD kitchens to be trained in ‘scratch cooking’ and for fresh food to be purchased and prepared for school lunches (elementary, middle and high school). This approach has been successful at many local school districts (Oak Park USD, Ventura USD, Santa Barbara, and Carpentaria). We want our kids to eat healthy, freshly cooked meals instead of meals consisting of mostly processed food. While salad bars have been utilized in many Conejo Schools it does not undo the damage to our children being served a diet of mostly processed foods.

Intervention is needed and we recognize the cost to staff training, which we parents will look to local donations to pay providing the district, cannot find funding for the project at this time. We want the district food service to agree that if training of staff can be funded, that they will in turn agree to fully support the scratch cooking project (buy fresh food, raw commodity foods, and assist and support staff in being adequately trained to produce more healthy meals). We would like outside, professional consultants to assist in menu development, training, and implementation of the new program that will meet the new recommendation put forth by the USDA School lunch program.

Please see the other petitions involving healthy changes for CVUSD: