Scaling up Healthy, Climate-Friendly School Food: Strategies for Success

  • October 22, 2018

A new, first-of-its-kind report spotlights a growing movement of pioneering school districts using their massive purchasing power to provide plant-forward, climate-friendly food that is healthier for students and the planet. The new report from Friends of the Earth, which includes four detailed case studies, builds on a 2017 analysis that showed how Oakland Unified School District reduced its carbon footprint by 14 percent and saved $42,000 over two years by serving less meat and more plant-based foods.

Based on interviews with 33 school food professionals, “Scaling up Healthy, Climate-Friendly School Food: Strategies for Success” provides resources and numerous examples from 18 public school districts showcasing the climate benefits and strategies that school food visionaries are successfully deploying to serve more plant-forward foods on their lunch menus.

The report provides a comprehensive road map for boosting student participation rates and increasing appreciation of healthier, climate-friendly food. Key strategies include:

  • Using fresh and local ingredients; increasing scratch and speed-scratch cooking and serving plant-forward meals in a friendly dining environment via food trucks, food courts, build-a-bowl stations, salad bars, grab-n-go carts and plant-based “pop-up restaurants.”
  • Engaging students and creating opportunities for taste tests, including try-it days, recipe competitions, build-a-meal concepts, student focus groups and food festivals.
  • Positive messaging that highlights the flavors and deliciousness of plant-forward items while avoiding the words “vegan” and “vegetarian.”
  • Investing in staff training and better cooking facilities for scratch cooking.
  • Identifying culturally appropriate recipes and employing staff ambassadors as effective and motivational spokespeople who can help instill healthy eating habits.
  • Ensuring class-based and parent-focused nutrition education, including school gardens.
  • Implementing creative revenue generation strategies and increasing joint procurement bids for plant-based products.

You can access the full report here

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