The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
More than 31 million children in the U.S. consume most of their daily caloric intake at school. For many children, it may be the only food they eat regularly each day. But improving the quality of school lunches offers an effective way to ensure that half of what children eat is healthy, nutritious and sustainably grown. School lunch programs that source organic, local, nutritious and sustainable foods impact children's health and also the health of our planet. Food Tank has compiled a list of 16 school lunch programs making strides to improve children's health.
1. The Baltimore Public School System, Baltimore, Maryland
The public school system in Baltimore was the first to adopt “Meatless Mondays," which benefit students' health as well as the environment. BCPS serves locally grown fruits, vegetables and milk, and teaches its students how to grow their food at Great Kids Farm, a 33-acre teaching farm.
2. The Berkeley Unified School District, Berkeley, California
The Berkeley Unified School District is committed to serving nutritious, delicious and locally grown food to students. All processed foods, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, refined sugars, refined flour, dyes, nitrates, additives and chemicals are banned. Local, organic milk is served throughout cafeterias in addition to organic fruits and vegetables as much as possible.
3. The Burlington School Food Project, Burlington, Vermont
The Burlington School Food Project provides free breakfast and dinner to 4,000 students in the Burlington School District. The project is dedicated to serving local food from farms in the area and was chosen as a model Farm to School program by the USDA in 2010.
4. Farmhouse Café and Bakery, El Prado, New Mexico
The Farmhouse Café sponsors school garden projects, which serve more than 450 meals a day at participating schools and teach children how to grow vegetables and make healthy food choices.
5. The Finnish National Board of Education, Finland
Finland was the first country in the world to serve free school meals dating back to 1948. School meals are designed to support students' health and to give them energy for their studies. Local fish, vegetables, fruit and grains are featured on students' plates to form tasty, colorful, balanced meals. Finnish law requires that half of the plate be filled with fresh and cooked vegetables.
6. The French Ministry of National Education, France
School children in France are required to sit at the lunch table for at least a half an hour to eat a full meal. Fried food, foods high in fat, ketchup and sweets are all limited. Meals are well-balanced and include vegetables, a warm main dish, cheese and usually fruit for dessert. The government charges families on a sliding scale, which averages US$2.56–3.12.
7. The Healthy Schools Campaign, Chicago, Illinois
More than 350,000 students in Chicago public schools eat healthier food thanks to the Healthy Schools Campaign. Produce is regionally grown and chicken is raised without antibiotics in nearby Indiana.
Rome has an incredibly progressive school food program. About 150,000 meals are served daily at 740 public schools. Ninety-six percent of meals are made from scratch and 70 percent of ingredients are organic. Much of the produce and meat is local or regional and menus reflect the seasonality of crops grown in the region.
9. The Good Earth School Lunch Program, Marin County, California
More than 4,000 children in twelve schools throughout Marin County participate in the healthy, organic and nutritious Good Earth School Lunch Program.
10. Kitchen Garden Project, United Kingdom
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver launched the Kitchen Garden Project to teach primary school children in the U.K. how to grow, cook and consume fresh and local produce. The Kitchen Garden Project believes that introducing children to fresh fruits and vegetables at a young age is crucial to developing life-long healthy eating habits.
In Japan, school lunch is referred to as Shokuiku, which translates to food and nutrition education. The free school lunch program aims to promote mental and physical health and is based on government-established nutritional criteria. The program encourages sustainability by promoting environmentally friendly food production in local communities, encourages table manners and celebrates the enjoyment of eating.
12. Shelby County Nutrition Services, Tennessee
More than 110,000 students are served breakfast and lunch daily at Shelby County public schools, where Nutrition Services focuses on providing nutritious, healthy food to improve educational achievements. Nutrition Services are connected with the Farm to School Movement, which aims to serve healthy meals in school cafeterias, provide agriculture and nutrition education, improve student nutrition and support local and regional farms.
More than 800,000 school children in the public school system in Seoul receive hot, healthy lunches at school. The healthy and nutritious meal reflects Korean cuisine. Students are served protein, rice, kimchi (pickled vegetables) and other vegetables on the side.
14. The Sitka “Fish to Schools" Program, Sitka, Alaska
The Sitka “Fish to Schools" Program aims to enhance students' understanding of local seafood resources by including locally-caught seafood in the school lunch program. Students also receive education about the local fishing culture.
15. Urban Sprouts, San Francisco, California
Since 2006, Urban Sprouts has partnered with schools throughout San Francisco to provide garden-based education in which students experience planting, growing, harvesting and consuming crops directly from the school garden.
16. Wellness in the Schools, New York, New York
Wellness in the Schools (WITS) encourages healthy eating, environmental awareness and fitness as a way of life for public school kids in New York City. WITS forms partnerships with school leadership, teachers, chefs, coaches, parents and kids, to develop and implement programs that provide nutritious foods, environments and opportunities for kids to play, learn and grow.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The supply chain that provides medical supplies to the world is favoring the U.S. and Europe, which are outbidding poorer nations for masks, gowns, gloves and ventilators during the coronavirus pandemic, according to NPR.
A garbage yard in Lucknow, India where plastic bottles are dumped before being sent to recycling. Abhimanyu Kumar Sharma / Moment / Getty Images
Scientists have engineered a mutant enzyme that converts 90 percent of plastic bottles back to pristine starting materials that can then be used to produce new high-quality bottles in just hours. The discovery could revolutionize the recycling industry, which currently saves about 30 percent of PET plastics from landfills, reported Science Magazine.
- Scientists Develop 'Infinitely' Recyclable Plastics Replacement ... ›
- Plastics: The History of an Ecological Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- Scientists Find Bacteria That Eats Plastic - EcoWatch ›
Cabin fever is often associated with being cooped up on a rainy weekend or stuck inside during a winter blizzard.
In reality, though, it can actually occur anytime you feel isolated or disconnected from the outside world.
What is cabin fever?<p>In popular expressions, cabin fever is used to explain feeling bored or listless because you've been stuck inside for a few hours or days. But that's not the reality of the symptoms.</p><p>Instead, cabin fever is a series of negative emotions and distressing sensations people may face if they're isolated or feeling cut off from the world.</p><p>These feelings of isolation and loneliness are more likely in times of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/yes-covid-19-cases-are-rising-why-you-still-need-to-practice-social-distancing" target="_blank">social distancing</a>, self-quarantining during a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-a-pandemic" target="_blank">pandemic</a>, or sheltering in place because of severe weather.</p><p>Indeed, cabin fever can lead to a series of symptoms that can be difficult to manage without proper coping techniques.</p><p>Cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological disorder, but that doesn't mean the feelings aren't real. The distress is very real. It can make fulfilling the requirements of everyday life difficult.</p>
What are the symptoms?<p>Symptoms of cabin fever go far beyond feeling bored or "stuck" at home. They're rooted in an intense feeling of isolation and may include:</p><ul><li>restlessness</li><li>decreased motivation</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irritability" target="_blank">irritability</a></li><li>hopelessness</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/unable-to-concentrate" target="_blank">difficulty concentrating</a></li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irregular-sleep-wake-syndrome" target="_blank">irregular sleep patterns</a>, including sleepiness or sleeplessness</li><li>difficulty waking up</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/lethargy" target="_blank">lethargy</a></li><li>distrust of people around you</li><li>lack of patience</li><li>persistent <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/depression-vs-sadness" target="_blank">sadness or depression<br></a></li></ul>
What can help you cope with cabin fever?<p>Because cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological condition, there's no standard "treatment." However, mental health professionals do recognize that the symptoms are very real.</p><p>The coping mechanism that works best for you will have a lot to do with your personal situation and the reason you're secluded in the first place.</p><p>Finding meaningful ways to engage your brain and occupy your time can help alleviate the distress and irritability that cabin fever brings.</p><p>The following ideas are a good place to start.</p>
When to get help<p>Cabin fever is often a fleeting feeling. You may feel irritable or frustrated for a few hours, but having a virtual chat with a friend or finding a task to distract your mind may help erase the frustrations you felt earlier.</p><p>Sometimes, however, the feelings may grow stronger, and no coping mechanisms may be able to successfully help you eliminate your feelings of isolation, sadness, or depression.</p><p>What's more, if your time indoors is prolonged by outside forces, like weather or extended shelter-in-place orders from your local government, feelings of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety" target="_blank">anxiety</a> and fear are valid.</p><p>In fact, anxiety may be at the root of some cabin fever symptoms. This may make symptoms worse.</p><p>If you feel that your symptoms are getting worse, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can help you understand what you're experiencing. Together, you can identify ways to overcome the feelings and anxiety.</p><p>Of course, if you're in isolation or practicing social distancing, you'll need to look for alternative means for seeing a mental health expert.</p><p>Telehealth options may be available to connect you with your therapist if you already have one. If you don't, reach out to your doctor for recommendations about mental health specialists who can connect with you online.</p><p>If you don't want to talk to a therapist, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/top-iphone-android-apps" target="_blank">smartphone apps for depression</a> may provide a complementary option for addressing your cabin fever symptoms.</p>
The bottom line<p>Isolation isn't a natural state for many people. We are, for the most part, social animals. We enjoy each other's company. That's what can make staying at home for extended periods of time difficult.</p><p>However, whether you're sheltering at home to avoid dangerous weather conditions or heeding the guidelines to help minimize the spread of a disease, staying at home is often an important thing we must do for ourselves and our communities.</p><p>If and when it's necessary, finding ways to engage your brain and occupy your time may help bat back cabin fever and the feelings of isolation and restlessness that often accompany it.</p>
Pope Francis spoke about the novel coronavirus, suggesting that the global pandemic might be one of nature's responses to the man-made climate crisis.