Escondido Union School District First Institution to Adopt Good Food Purchasing Program in San Diego County



Sara Wacker, APR
(858) 945-1104

Escondido, Calif. (June 25, 2020) – On June 25, 2020, the Escondido Union School District Board of Education unanimously voted to commit to the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP). This vote marks an important milestone for a campaign led by San Diego Food System Alliance and a diverse coalition of partners to encourage public institutions to adopt GFPP. GFPP encourages school districts to purchase food that meets robust labor, health, animal welfare and sustainability standards, while prioritizing local food sources. As the first institution in San Diego County to adopt the nationally recognized GFPP framework, Escondido Union School District (EUSD) reaffirmed itself as a leader in school food. With more than 3 million meals served annually, EUSD is poised to have a significant impact on students, food vendors, and growers across the region.

GFPP, managed by the Center for Good Food Purchasing, is a nationally recognized program that is supported by a wide range of local and national organizations representing farmers, farmworkers, food workers, parents, animal welfare advocates, students, educators and others. The program is considered one of the most comprehensive food procurement policies. In less than five years, GFPP has influenced over $1 billion in annual food purchases by 48 institutions across 20 cities.

“We are part of the solution – through adversity and hardship come real solutions,” said Gail Gousha, EUSD Nutrition Services Director. “The difficult COVID-19 environment has increased the need for feeding and conservation solutions that we had not even considered before. Keeping a strong focus on our community partnerships, environment and conservation should never wane. Our commitment to GFPP values-based procurement includes this strong philosophy and methodology. We will continue to highly value these relationships and resources that allow us to keep moving forward.”

The diverse coalition of partners in San Diego behind promoting GFPP, facilitated by San Diego Food System Alliance, include the American Heart Association, ASPCA, Community Health Improvement Partners, County of San Diego Childhood Obesity Initiative, Farm Forward, Friends of the Earth, Humane Society of the United States, Project New Village, San Diego 350, Teamsters, UCSD Center for Community Health and the Union of Concerned Scientists. The local coalition is supported by the Center for Good Food Purchasing, a national organization managing the GFPP framework.

“We are so excited to partner with EUSD as the first GFPP participant in San Diego County,” said Elly Brown, Executive Director of the San Diego Food System Alliance. “EUSD has joined a growing network of innovative communities and institutional leaders from across the country who are strategically building a healthy, just and sustainable food system. We want to thank Gail, Brock, and the Nutrition Services team for their passion and dedication, our coalition partners, and Kaiser Permanente San Diego for supporting the assessment work with EUSD.”

Many thanks to the Escondido Union School District Board of Education, Gail Gousha and her Nutrition Services team, the San Diego Good Purchasing Program coalition members and the Center for Good Food Purchasing for their work advancing good food in Escondido.

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San Diego Food System Alliance: The mission of San Diego Food System Alliance (“the Alliance”) is to cultivate a healthy, sustainable, and just food system in San Diego County. The Alliance is a diverse and inclusive network that works across sectors to promote collaboration, influence policy, and catalyze transformation in the food system. The work of the Alliance is grounded in a shared vision for change and informed by the experience and expertise of the network. Together with the broader community, the Alliance is working toward a vision of a food system that elevates social, environmental, and economic equity for all.

San Diego GFPP Coalition Support:

American Heart Association: “The Good Food Purchasing Program is a valuable step towards providing students with the food they need to be healthy and successful learners. We look forward to working with the District to further strengthen their nutrition standards and ensure healthy food is available for all children.” – Chelsea Walczak Vircks, Senior Director, Community Impact, American Heart Association, San Diego Division

ASPCA: “The adoption of the Good Food Purchasing Program is not just a victory for San Diego County students and residents, but also for the multitude of stakeholders in the larger regional food system, who will all benefit greatly from this focus on healthy, local, fair, sustainable and higher welfare food. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed just how fragile our industrial food supply chains are, creating an urgent need to build a more resilient food system and the ASPCA applauds the Escondido Union School District for cementing its commitment to values-based food sourcing, including the more humane treatment of animals.” – Kara Shannon, Senior Manager, Farm Animal Welfare, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

Community Health Improvement Partners: “Escondido Union School District (EUSD) is a leader for Farm to School in San Diego County. Each year, the district’s Child Nutrition Services team has demonstrated their dedication to sourcing local ingredients and offering a variety of meatless options to improve the health of their students. By adopting the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) framework, EUSD will continue to advance healthy food access within their cafeterias, as well as in the community of Escondido.” – Dane Petersen, Program Coordinator, Community Health Improvement Partners.

Farm Forward: “This proposal is supported by a San Diego coalition that includes groups who are ready to provide free technical assistance to the District. For example, Farm Forward supports institutions in reaching higher animal welfare standards, whether they choose the tactic of sourcing higher welfare animal products, reducing the amount of animal products served, or both.” – John Millspaugh, Director of Educational Campaigns, Farm Forward and GFPP Working Group Co-Chair

Friends of the Earth: “Congratulations to Escondido Union School District for becoming the first district in San Diego County to adopt the Good Food Purchasing Program! Friends of the Earth commends their leadership and dedication to providing students with school meals that support a sustainable, healthy, and just food system.” – Elizabeth Vaughn, Senior School Food Specialist, Friends of the Earth

Humane Society of the United States: ““The Humane Society of the United States supports EUSD in adopting the 5 values of the GFPP: supporting local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare and nutrition.” These 5 values help create a more sustainable and compassionate food system for humans, animals and the environment.” – Kathleen Kastner, Food & Nutrition Coordinator, The Humane Society of the United States

UCSD Center for Community Health: “The Good Food Purchasing Program is a natural fit for the Escondido Union School District. Our mission is to actualize the potential of our students, our staff and the community that we serve. We believe that the Good Food Purchasing Program standards which focus on good nutrition, economically viable local economies, animal welfare, a valued workforce and environmental sustainability will further support and empower our organization to achieve our core mission.” – Blanca Melendrez, Executive Director, UCSD Center for Community Health