Healthy, Climate-Friendly Food
Foodservice operations in schools, hospitals, universities, businesses and restaurants supply nearly half of all meals in the U.S. By redirecting their massive purchasing power, these food establishments have a huge opportunity to help us transition to a healthier, more sustainable, and equitable food system
What is climate-friendly foodservice? Healthy, climate-friendly foodservice achieves a lower carbon and water footprint than traditional foodservice by offering a wider array of healthy, plant-based and plant-forward foods. It also cuts emissions by reducing overall food and packaging waste, sourcing from farms that use carbon-enhancing, healthy soil practices and implementing recycling and other energy and water saving measures.
Climate-friendly food also supports public health goals and has the potential to save lives and billions of dollars in healthcare costs. There is widespread consensus amongst public health organizations that eating less meat, especially processed and red meats, can reduce the risk of diet-related illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Over-production and consumption of industrially produced animal foods is unhealthy and unsustainable for our planet. Animal products are the most carbon- and resource-intensive foods in our diet. A recent report forecast that if current consumption trends continue, the livestock sector will account for 81% of global GHGs by 2050, “making it virtually impossible to keep temperature increases below dangerous levels past 1.5˚ Celsius.” This is a threat with severe consequences and a clear solution: We must dramatically reduce production and consumption of meat and cheese in favor of regenerative agriculture and plant-based foods.
Building on our 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines campaign, the Healthy, Climate-Friendly Food Campaign focuses on leveraging public and higher education food policies and purchasing dollars to drive market shifts and consumption toward fewer and better animal products and healthier, plant-forward, sustainable food. Our work focuses on:
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) and Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D (D-NY) introduced the Healthy Future Students and Earth Pilot Program Act.
Earlier today, the D.C. Council unanimously passed the Green Food Purchasing Act of 2021 (Councilmember Mary Cheh – Ward 3). The legislation will measure and reduce the GHG emissions associated with the food that the city of D.C. purchases by 25%.
A first-of-its-kind analysis, the Friends of the Earth report offers substantial data to track progress towards healthy, climate-friendly school meals, recommending a shift to more plant-based entrees on kids’ lunch trays.
Swapping factory-farmed hamburgers for chicken wings will fail to adequately address the climate catastrophe and would actually exacerbate many of the pressing environmental, health, and worker justice problems that are more urgent than ever in the time of COVID-19.
The need for change is urgent, and the benefits to farmer and worker livelihoods, our climate, natural resources, and public health is immense.
Congress should mitigate the racial health disparities that leave Black people so vulnerable to COVID-19 by ensuring every student has access to nutritious school meals.