Today in Oakland, one in four children does not have access to affordable, nutritious food. Simply put, many of our families don’t know how they’re going to get their next meal. What’s more, when our children do eat, far too many of them are forced to settle for unhealthy options instead of nutritious food that will support their physical, intellectual, and emotional development.
The desire to end this pattern of deprivation and ensure that all OUSD students have access to healthy meals is the driving force behind The Center: Central Kitchen, Instructional Farm, and Education Center.
This is much more than a facilities project, it’s a statement of purpose about what’s needed to help our children succeed and an affirmation of the values that have made this city a leader in so many areas: social justice, environmental stewardship, urban farming, and healthy eating.
The Center provides us with a unique opportunity to establish a hub for the Rethinking School Lunch Oakland initiative, an effort to dramatically improve the quality of food served in our schools. By changing the relationship our students have with food and offering nutritious meals that helps boost student achievement and support mental, emotional, and physical health–all of which are closely tied to healthy eating–The Center can move us closer to our goals as a school district and a community.
Among other features, The Center will have:
Roughly 30,000 square feet of space housing a new OUSD Central Kitchen
A teaching kitchen and instructional space to support Linked Learning career pathways in agriculture, culinary arts, botany, and related fields and add a new branch to West Oakland’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Corridor.
A one-acre instructional urban farm, greenhouse, and produce market Central Kitchen, Instructional Farm, and Education Center
A produce market, meeting spaces, and classrooms, that establish the facility as a hub for neighborhood events, adult education, and community engagement.
A hungry child is a child that will struggle to learn. We believe that every student can and should learn and that every student should have access to healthy meals, every day. The Center is the embodiment of this belief. It represents the biggest step Oakland has ever taken toward making this vision reality and it will help transform the food landscape in this city and the lives of our students.