Climate-Friendly School Food

As a sector that serves over 7 billion meals annually, U.S. public schools have a profound impact and opportunity to improve the health of students and the environment for generations to come. However, public schools face significant challenges to feeding kids healthy, delicious and environmentally friendly food on extremely tight budgets.

To address these challenges, Friends of the Earth’s Climate-Friendly School Food Campaign:

  • Convenes regional, healthy, climate-friendly school forums and webinars that bring together school nutrition service and sustainability staff, NGOs and government to share best practices, resources and strategies for climate-friendly foodservice. You can access video presentations and resources from the 2020-21 climate-friendly school food webinar series here. You can also find resources from the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Forum here; the New York Greening School Food Forum here; and the Fall 2018 Southern California Greening School Food Forum here
  • Promotes practical tools, strategies and policy reforms. See our groundbreaking reports: Organic, Plant-Forward Scratch Cooked School Meals: A California Case Study; Organic School Food Roadmap; Shrinking the Carbon and Water Footprint of School Food and Scaling-Up Climate-Friendly Foodserviceas well as the resources below
  • Provides marketing tools, procurement and menu design assistance, carbon footprinting analysis and infographics in targeted districts to demonstrate the carbon reduction benefits of plant-forward menus and educate and inspire students, parents, food service staff, and administrators to support climate-friendly food shifts. For inspiration, check out our short school food service director video and our student action video on serving climate-friendly food. Please Contact us if your school district would like technical assistance
  • Builds collaboration among local, national and regional organizations to work on systematic policy and institutional shifts to support climate-friendly school food. Join us!
  • Advocates for and advances policies at the federal and district levels that make it easier for K-12 school food service to serve more plant-forward meals. See new toolkit for advocates.
    Engages students and school community members in advocating for healthy, climate-friendly school meals. Check out our Student Action Webpage and Educator Resource site to get involved and help spread the word! 
Resources See All
  • How a Rockstar Lentil Burger Inspired More Plant-Forward School Food
    Learn More
  • USDA Foods: How a $1.3 billion program can be transformed to create a more just and healthy food system
  • The State of School Lunch in California
    Learn More
Friends of the Earth Videos, webinars and presentations:

Latest Blog Posts See All
Biden’s ambitious goals for climate and agriculture require bolder strategies
Biden’s ambitious goals for climate and agriculture require bolder strategies

The need for change is urgent, and the benefits to farmer and worker livelihoods, our climate, natural resources, and public health is immense.

Healthier school food is key to fighting COVID-19 and systemic racism
Healthier school food is key to fighting COVID-19 and systemic racism

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.

California budget boosts healthy food for kids and markets for farmers
California budget boosts healthy food for kids and markets for farmers

School food advocates cheered earlier this month when California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a major boost in state funding for California school food.

Latest News See All
Billie Eilish and Maggie Baird Take to Capitol Hill to Advocate for Plant-Based School Meals

Today, Grammy Award winning artist Billie Eilish and food justice and climate activist Maggie Baird spoke at a Capitol Hill briefing in support of the Healthy Future Students and Earth Act

D.C. Becomes First in the Nation to Set GHG Reduction Target for Food Purchases

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%.

New report: California school meals fall short on health and climate goals with meat-heavy menus

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. 

Resources and climate-friendly recipes:
Staff training and Support:
Salad bars
Nutrition education