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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #23-32
May 4, 2023
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Showcases Universal Meals and Honors Student Nutrition Employees as School Lunch Heroes

NOVATO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond visited Pleasant Valley Elementary School in the Novato Unified School District (NUSD) today to tour the school nutrition program, meet with staff, and participate in a garden classroom and lunch with students. Thurmond and Sarah Neville-Morgan, Deputy Superintendent of the Opportunities for All Branch at the California Department of Education, celebrated teachers and staff, particularly the nutrition workers being honored this Friday on School Lunch Hero Day, as well as the success of NUSD’s food program.

“Farm-to-school programs allow students to learn about the relationships between food systems and the environment and not only benefit our students, but also promote equity, economic growth, and environmental resilience in our communities,” said Superintendent Thurmond. “What Novato Unified is doing when it comes to sustainable nutrition for their students is impressive. Innovative practices like those we see here are a byproduct of our Universal Meals programs, which is one of several key components of our Transforming Schools initiatives.”

State Superintendent Thurmond’s visit marked the 10-year anniversary of School Lunch Hero Day External link opens in new window or tab., which honors school nutrition professionals. As a special surprise, Thurmond presented Pleasant Valley Elementary food service staff with donated Golden State Warriors tickets in honor of School Lunch Hero Day. Thurmond has been a champion of Universal Meals, a key component of his Transforming Schools initiative, which ensures all California students have access to breakfast and lunch each school day at no charge. The success of California’s Universal Meals program is due to the school food services professionals statewide who are dedicated to ensuring our students have healthy meals each and every school day.

Pleasant Valley Elementary School serves 433 students. NUSD’s Food Service Department serves approximately 3,500 breakfasts and 4,000 lunches daily with a district enrollment of approximately 7,400 students. This year, the school parent-teacher association (PTA) funded a garden and nutrition program that is available to students in transitional kindergarten through second grade. The district received $1 million in state funding from the 2021 and 2022 Kitchen Infrastructure and Training grants, including $575,000 to focus on increasing freshly prepared meals. Students are learning about the seasons, growing vegetables, what plants need and how they grow, pollination, and nutrition.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Friday, May 05, 2023
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