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 Foodservice, as 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 director video and our student 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.
Friends of the Earth Videos, webinars and presentations:
- Four-part Webinar Series: Healthy, Climate-Friendly School Food: Strategies for Success
- Food Service Directors Making Climate-Friendly School Food Work in California video
- Student Video about Climate-Friendly Food
- The Case for Healthy, Climate-Friendly School Food, Children’s Environmental Health Network
- Webinar on Oakland Unified’s Healthy, Climate Friendly Food Shifts, hosted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
- Chef Ann Foundation webinar, highlighting More Plants Please! Initiative
- Friends of the Earth slide presentations from Northwest Forum on Healthy, Climate-Friendly Foodservice
- Interview with Kari Hamerschlag, Deputy Director of Food & Agriculture, during the Healthy School Food Summit:
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.
School food advocates cheered earlier this month when California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a major boost in state funding for California school food.
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.
Senator Clarence Lam (D-Howard County) and Delegate Jim Gilchrist (D-Montgomery County) introduced first-of-its-kind state legislation this week to set a target of reducing emissions from the food the state and its public universities procure by 25% by 2030.
- Civil Eats: In a year of climate reckoning, where does Joe Biden stand on climate and agriculture?
- New Republic: Can Biden keep his promise to make farms climate friendly?
- The Mercury News: California schools put healthier lunches to the test
- Civil Eats: As beef comes under fire for climate impacts, the industry fights back
- Earth 911: Encourage your school to offer more meat-free options
- Live Kindly: School boards urged to require vegan options at every meal
- Civil Eats: Less meat, better food, happier kids: Oakland Unified reinvents its school lunch
- Yes Magazine: School district cuts carbon footprint and saves money
- Treehugger: What happens when a school district reduces meat and dairy consumption?
- The Lunch Tray: School meals that are healthy for kids – and the environment
- Ecowatch: Farm to school program saves big bucks, slashes carbon footprint at 100 Oakland schools
Resources and climate-friendly recipes:
- Recipes featured in Our Scaling Up Climate-Friendly School Food report (Google Drive)
- Meatless Mondays K-12 toolkit and School food recipe book
- Forward Food’s compliant Recipes and Resources
- Chef Ann Foundation, Plant Forward recipes
- Menus of Change
- Lean and Green Kids
- Coalition for Healthy School Foods compliant recipes
- Vegetarian Resource Group Recipes
- USDA what’s cooking? recipes (for home and school)
- Plant based products available for K-12 created by Forward Food (here is link: Forward Food list)
Staff training and Support:
- Plant-forward Culinary Training from Forward Food (over 65 districts have participated)
- Humane Society presentation from Northwest Regional Greening School Food Forum
- Center for Ecoliteracy, Making the Case – why scratch, why farm-to-school?
- Chef Ann Foundation, School Food Institute – comprehensive staff training guide
- helpful advice and resources for climate-friendly foods on California Department of Education’s website.
- California Department of Food and Ag. Specialty Crop Block Grant
- USDA Dietetic Internship Program
- Golden Gate Dietetic Interns (California specific)
- USDA Community Food Systems Grants (farm-to-school, staff training) (SBUSD, OUSD)