Shrinking the Carbon and Water Footprint of School Food
As schools across the nation grapple with how to feed kids healthier, more sustainable food on tight budgets, an inspiring story from Oakland Unified School District provides a roadmap for change. Friends of the Earth’s new case study shows how the district was able to significantly reduce its carbon and water footprint by replacing a share of its meat, poultry and cheese purchases with plant-based proteins. These actions also saved the district money and improved students’ access to healthful food.
Get the full report & executive summary
Read the press release
Read our blog on EcoWatch: A Triple Win for One of California’s Largest School Districts
Resources from our Southern California Regional Forum on Healthy, Climate-Friendly School Food
- Civil Eats Article: 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
- Green Schools National Network: Schools Cut Meat and Cheese, Serve up Big Wins for Kids and Climate; Greener School Lunches Can Help Fight Climate Change
- Interview with Kari Hamerschlag, during the Healthy School Food Summit
Despite the growing trend towards serving more plant-based meals, shifting institutional food purchasing towards less and better meat has rarely been tapped as a climate mitigation strategy. We hope this report inspires more public institutions to track their animal foods purchases and serve less and better meat and more plant-based foods as a cost-effective way to achieve environmental and public health goals. We also hope policymakers will begin to consider meat reduction as a powerful, cost-effective climate mitigation strategy.
If institutions across the country made similar menu shifts to Oakland Unified School District, we could achieve dramatic reductions in carbon emissions and water use with no additional cost to schools. This is a rare silver bullet solution that can address many challenges simultaneously!
Create Climate-Conscious Menus
- Meatless Mondays K-12 toolkit and
- School food recipe book
- Bring Food Forward
- Chef Ann Foundation, Lunch Box Resources
- Menus of Change
- Lean and Green Kids
- Coalition for Healthy School Food
- Plant Forward
- Slide presentations from Northwest Forum on Healthy, Climate-Friendly Foodservice: Humane Society and Friends of the Earth
- Webinar on Oakland Unified’s Healthy, Climate Friendly Food Shifts, hosted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
- Chef Ann Foundation webinar, on their More Plants Please! initiative, which offers schools free recipes, menu cycles, and educational materials to get more plant forward meals in schools.