Oakland Unified School District Adopts the Good Food Purchasing Program

Center for Good Food Purchasing Staff

On November 30, the Oakland Unified School District School Board voted unanimously to adopt a resolution committing the district to the Good Food Purchasing Program. Adoption of the Program in Oakland will deepen and accelerate the District’s commitment to values-based purchasing that contributes to overall health and community wellness in the city and region.

Oakland Unified School District Nutrition Services spends about $9 million on food, serves nearly 20,000 daily lunches, and is an important source of healthy food for children in the district–about 68% of whom are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. 

The adoption of the Good Food Purchasing Program supports and enhances existing innovative initiatives, including increased purchasing of regional chicken and chicken raised without the use of antibiotics through participation in School Food Focus’ National Learning Lab, a collaborative of 26 school districts, as well as their California Thursdays partnership with Center for Ecoliteracy, where once a week the entire lunch is sourced from California growers and companies.

To help measure the impact of these initiatives and identify new sourcing goals, OUSD has worked with the Center for Good Food Purchasing since 2014 to analyze how their purchasing patterns align with the Good Food Purchasing Program’s values and standards and set ambitious goals for sourcing more and more Good Food from companies that reflect the District’s values.

The District’s adoption of the Good Food Purchasing resolution institutionalizes their commitment to Good Food. “In adopting this resolution to participate in the Good Food Purchasing Program, the Oakland Unified School District voted to lead the nation in using procurement dollars to reflect the values of our district and our city in the areas of local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare and nutrition,” said Nutrition Services Executive Director, Jennifer LeBarre, who brought the resolution to the School Board.

The Oakland Food Policy Council, Teamsters Joint Council 7, Food Chain Workers Alliance and youth leaders of HOPE Collaborative’s Youth Action Board played a leadership role in the District’s adoption of the Program in Oakland. A number of partner organizations also submitted letters of support and/or spoke at the board meeting including Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), Roots of Change, Union of Concerned Scientists, Friends of the Earth, Center for Ecoliteracy, The Humane Society of the US, Pesticide Action Network North America, Farm Forward, ASPCA, SPUR, Slow Food San Francisco, and PolicyLink.

We are thrilled to continue our work with the Nutrition Services Division, who offer incredible leadership and innovation in school food nationwide. Check out some great press coverage on the Oakland announcement here.

Photo 1: Supporters and Nutrition Services staff celebrate OUSD’s Good Food Purchasing Policy adoption. (L-R: Emanuel Sanchez (OUSD Student and Youth Action Board Leader, HOPE Collaborative), Lenny Ibarra (OUSD Student and Youth Action Board Leader, HOPE Collaborative), Alexa Delwiche (Center for Good Food Purchasing), Eli Zigas (SPUR), Doug Bloch (Teamsters Joint Council 7), Sarahy Dominguez (HOPE Collaborative), Mario Balcita (HOPE Collaborative), Alex Emmott (OUSD Nutrition Services), Jennifer LeBarre (OUSD Nutrition Services), Shaniece Alexander (Oakland Food Policy Council).

Photo 2: OUSD Student and Youth Action Board leader, Emanuel Sanchez provides powerful public testimony about how the District’s commitment to Good Food Purchasing can more effectively advocate for and help improve the lives of farm and food workers.