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Study reveals the state of scratch cooking in California schools

About one-third of survey respondents say their districts do high levels of scratch cooking.
Photograph: Shutterstock

A new study by UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities + Schools reveals the current scratch-cooking landscape in California school districts.  

Two hundred foodservice directors throughout the state filled out a survey as part of the study, which was conducted in collaboration with Conscious Kitchen and The Edible Schoolyard Project. About one-third of respondents said their districts do high levels of scratch cooking, meaning that 75% or more of the food they serve is made from scratch. By contrast, 16% said they do little to no scratch cooking, meaning that 10% or less of their menu items are scratch-made. 

Rural school districts were more likely to say they conduct scratch cooking compared to districts in urban areas, and districts where the majority of the population is white also reported doing more scratch cooking than those with a non-white majority.

Not having skilled staff or the necessary facilities and equipment were the main obstacles to scratch cooking, California districts said. The study estimates that around $5.81 billion would be needed to make all school kitchens in the state capable of producing scratch-made meals. 

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