The idea is to pair up local neighboring schools into district co-ops that would increase demand for sustainable local food ingredients and lower per unit food costs for the schools. The user inspired education would turn in-school chefs and cooks as educators on food topics inspired and chosen by the students based on a fixed number of choices. The idea is to include the students in the content creation process.
One of the main arguments for not featuring sustainable, organic, or just outright healthy food choices in our schools is the corresponding increase in cost. Organizing school districts into purchasing co-ops would reduce the per unit cost to schools because there is always a per unit discount when purchasing larger quantities. The benefit to farmers is clear (they have more demand for their product) and increased demand in the market should encourage new entries into the supply side. The trick is that the co-ops need to be location based and purchase from farmers in the vicinity only because purchasing outside local areas not only increases per-unit costs (additional transport cost passed onto the consumer), but it also increases the carbon footprint therefore decreasing the sustainability of the entire concept.
Not all areas will be able to support such an increase in demand so it is important to keep in mind that optimizing or "matching" the capabilities of the producers and the demands of the co-ops would be a priority. Reorganizing the way resources are distributed can stimulate the demand without increasing the costs to the schools.
The second part is the user-inspired food education. The students would be presented with either ingredients, recipes, or concepts inspired by locally grown, sustainable products. They will be asked to vote on next week's or months menu that will be inspired by these choices. Additionally the schools in the co-ops will offer food education based around these concepts. The idea is to utilize the safe food service areas as areas of education and reinforcement of making good nutritional choices coupled with storytelling and hands-on food training in age appropriate capacity. This could include personal stories of food producers and visual presentations and co-operative field trips to introduce farming and sustainability to urban children. The benefit to the student is that they learn about what they have chosen to eat that particular week or month and they have the relative control over the choices of what is on the menu making it more customized and personal. They are also internalizing a preference for sustainable food that contributes to the demand for sustainable local food in the long-run. The benefit to the school is that they increase their educational offering by creating a fun, interactive and personal way for students to relate to their food and what they learn.