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Local school lunches entirely California grown

Posted: 7:22 PM, Feb 25, 2016
Updated: 2016-02-26 03:22:53Z

This year, all San Diego Unified School District schools are taking part in a program where the entire lunch meal is grown in the state.

Jonathan Lashchuk looks forward to harvesting vegetables with his 5th grade class at Torrey Pines Elementary.

"If they're smooth and dark green they'll be really fresh," Lashchuk said.

From snap peas, to rainbow chard, taking care of their school garden gives the students great pride and teaches them the importance of eating right.

"It keeps me healthy, I'll have a nice strong body," Lashchuk said.

The garden isn't just part of their curriculum, it's also part of their lunch.

Students harvest more than 100 pounds of fresh produce a year. They say the best part about it is being able to eat what they grow.

While the salad bar has always been a hit, the highlight about hot lunch on Thursdays is that now the entire meal, including the entree is grown right here in the state.

SDUSD's "California Thursdays" nutrition program has now expanded to all of its schools.

Last year, only 20 schools participated.

The district says buying poultry and other protein sources in-state boosts the economy and ensures students eat the freshest foods.

"I think it really gets kids excited about their food and where it comes from," said Bill Jenkins, Torrey Pines Elementary Garden Coordinator.

The district works with farmers up and down the state to provide a variety of fresh food options.

After all that work in the garden, Lashchuk and his buddy can't help but chow down - enjoying the fruits of their labor.

"It's just really cool to know that you're eating stuff that came from your school and you're growing it right there," Lashchuk said.

San Diego Unified's "Farm to School," which is the umbrella program, started in 2010 and is one of the nation's most progressive programs.