Quantcast
Food

16 School Lunch Programs Making a Difference

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.

Nutritious, organic and sustainably grown school lunches are served every day in Rome, Italy. Photo credit: Food and Wine

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.

8. Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, Italy

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.

11. Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan

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.

13. Ministry of Education South Korea

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

How to Treat ADHD Naturally

10 Reasons to Oppose the Senate Version of the DARK Act

Organic Milk and Meat Is Healthier for You, Scientists Say

NBA Superstar Ray Allen to Open Organic Fast-Food Restaurant

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Popular

New Mexico Tribes Step Up to Protect Land Before Fossil Fuels Vote

Native American tribes are voicing concerns and demanding input on regulations on fossil fuel development in a New Mexico county, in the latest wave of tribal voices growing louder on oil and gas development across the country.

Sandoval County, home to 12 Native tribes, will hold a final vote in January on a draft ordinance to regulate oil and gas development in the county. In packed public meetings over the proposed ordinance last week, tribal leaders called out the lack of tribal input in the draft ordinance and raised concerns over the ordinance's lack of protections for water, air and land resources.

Keep reading... Show less
iStock

How to Talk to Your Relatives About Climate Change: A Guide for the Holidays

By Abigail Dillen

Most people who know me are too polite to question climate change when I'm around, but there are relatives and old family friends who hint at the great divide between their worldviews and mine. I think they sincerely believe that I would crush the economy forever if I had my way. On the other end of the spectrum are friends and family who are alarmed by climate and genuinely want to know what we and our elected officials can do about it. But no matter who's in the mix, it's hard to bring my work home for the holidays. Most of the time it feels easier to leave our existential crisis unmentioned.

Keep reading... Show less
Print Your City! The New Raw

3D Printing Turns Plastic Trash Into Public Furniture

Dutch designers are giving Amsterdam's plastic trash a second life by creating 3D-printed benches out of discarded plastic bags.

The "XXX" plastic bench, a collaboration between The New Raw and Aectual, made its debut in late October in the Dutch capital.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular

Chocolate Makers Agree to Stop Cutting Down Forests in West Africa for Cocoa

By Mike Gaworecki

At COP23, the UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany that wrapped up last week, top cocoa-producing countries in West Africa announced new commitments to end the massive deforestation for cocoa that is occurring within their borders.

Ivory Coast and Ghana are the number one and number two cocoa-producing nations on Earth, respectively. Together, they produce about two-thirds of the world's cocoa, but that production has been tied to high rates of deforestation as well as child labor and other human rights abuses.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food

Why Thanksgiving Is the Perfect Time to Give Up Meat

By Peter Kalmus

Of all our holidays, Thanksgiving is my favorite. It's a time out from the frenetic pace of life, a time for families to slow down and gather in the kitchen—to just be. It doesn't lend itself to the garish onslaught of commercialization. (You can sense the capitalist frustration and over-compensation in that oddest of add-ons, Black Friday). And for me, Thanksgiving was the perfect time to finally give up meat.

My journey to vegetarianism has been one of gradual awareness. In college, while living off campus, I discovered the wonders of cooking Indian food. Because the one cookbook I owned was from the Vaishnava tradition, my Indian cookery was strictly vegetarian. At a formative period of my life, I fell in love with the flavors of India. Those dishes never wanted for meat.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Red wolf in Randolph, North Carolina. Valerie / Flickr

Senate Republicans Push for Extinction of North Carolina's Red Wolf

Tucked away in the Senate report accompanying Monday's funding bill for the Department of the Interior is a directive to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to "end the Red Wolf recovery program and declare the Red Wolf extinct."

"Senate Republicans are trying to hammer a final nail in the coffin of the struggling red wolf recovery program," said Perrin de Jong, staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. "It is morally reprehensible for Senator Murkowski and her committee to push for the extinction of North Carolina's most treasured wild predator. Instead of giving up on the red wolf, Congress should fund recovery efforts, something lawmakers have cynically blocked time and time again."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Pexels

Connecting With Nature Improves Minds and Moods

By Marlene Cimons

Twentieth Century German social psychologist Erich Fromm first advanced the notion that humans hold an inborn connection to nature. Later, it was popularized by biologist E.O. Wilson as "the urge to affiliate with other forms of life." In the ensuing years, support for the positive effects of nature has gained considerable traction, grounded in a growing body of research.

In recent weeks, at least four new studies have emerged adding more validity to what science repeatedly has revealed: Being around nature is good for us. The latest research shows that interacting with nature makes the brain stronger and soothes the psyche.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
The Trump administration has proposed increased entry fees at 17 national parks, including the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park / Flickr

You Now Have More Time to Protest National Park Fee Hikes

Following widespread outrage, the National Parks Service (NPS) has extended the comment period for the public to weigh in on the proposed rate hikes at 17 of the most popular national parks across the country.

The comment period now closes Dec. 22, 2017. The original deadline had been set for Thursday.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!