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In 2009, the Oxnard Union High School District contracted out its school lunches and breakfasts to Sodexo, a mega-corporation notorious for poor nutrition and labor standards. For years, students, parents and teachers have been raising concerns about the health and quality of Sodexo meals in this district where most students rely on free and reduced lunch.
Many other Central Coast school districts have made huge strides in recent years converting from reheated frozen meals to scratch cooking and sourcing fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms in popular salad and sandwich bars. But when Oxnard students asked for the same improvements in 2011, they were met with resistance and empty promises. A salad bar promised by Sodexo in 2011 was only implemented days before the school board vote four years later when the company’s financial contract was in jeopardy.
CAUSE’s Oxnard youth committee met with school board members, spread the word on campus, started a social media campaign to gather pictures of unhealthy frozen food, gathered petitions, and came out to the school board meeting to speak. Faced with a powerful turnout of students, the school board unanimously chose not to renew Sodexo’s contract, opening the door to improving nutrition services.
Thanks to new leadership on the school board, support from our allies at the Oxnard Federation of Teachers, and most of all the inspiring work of dozens of local youth who led this effort, we have the opportunity to improve the health of thousands of young people in Oxnard, Port Hueneme, El Rio and Camarillo.
CAUSE is continuing to work to compare best practices from other local school districts and implement them in OUHSD.