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Marin Public School District Becomes First In U.S. To Serve All Organic, Non-GMO Meals

SAUSALITO (CBS SF) -- The Sausalito Marin City School District became the first school district in the nation Thursday to serve only organic and non-GMO meals, according to a nonprofit that helped launch a pilot program in the district in 2013.

Students at both Bayside MLK Jr. Academy in Marin City and Willow Creek Academy in Sausalito, the two schools in the district, ate all organic meals for the first time today, officials with the nonprofit Turning Green said.

Turning Green officials launched the pilot program at Bayside MLK Jr. Academy in 2013, with the help of The Conscious Kitchen, and said they found evidence of a drop in disciplinary cases, an increase in attendance and a greater sense of community.

"The results speak for themselves," Sausalito Marin City School District Superintendent Steve Van Zant said in a statement. Bayside MLK Jr. Academy serves 150 students and Willow Creek Academy serves 380 students, Turning Green executive director Judi Shils said.

Shils said it was her desire and passion to care for children and the future of others that prompted her to launch the program. She said she spent time talking to parent groups and parent teacher associations when she set out to prove the concept.

"USDA nutritional standards do not prioritize organic and non-GMO food, and as a result, students everywhere are vulnerable to pesticide residues and unsafe environmental toxins," Shils said in a statement. "Not only does this program far exceed USDA nutritional standards, but it ties the health of our children to the health of our planet."

Turning Green officials said their program takes a stand against GMOs, the effects of which are still unknown. They said evidence links GMOs to environmental damage and health risks and that GMOs are in many school foods.

Turning Green officials said they have joined the meal program to a nutritional curriculum to teach students why food is good for them, how it's grown and where it comes from.

Through the curriculum Turning Green and The Conscious Kitchen are aiming to reduce future childhood obesity and encourage kids to champion sustainable food, Turning Green officials said.

"This is so doable" for schools, Shils said. She said there really are no obstacles. People just have to have intention.

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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