Making School Lunches Organic
Thinking outside of the lunchbox
We’ve all heard the frightening statistics on the current state of public school lunches. Produced en masse, most school lunch programs use food that is processed, genetically modified, and contains high-starch ingredients. Rarely are organic options available.
However, with child obesity on the rise and pressure to make our school lunch programs healthier, organic school lunches are beginning to gain momentum. First, there are many avenues you can take to help make your child’s school lunch healthier on the home front while working to incorporate organic into your local school district.
Encouraging schools to partner with area farmers and organic community gardens is a great way to introduce organic foods. It can also become a hands-on way for students to learn more about organic farming and gardening practices while gaining an understanding of where their food comes from and what happens to it before arriving on their plates.
If you decide to approach your local districts about incorporating organic, look to the models set by forward-thinking states including California, Wisconsin, and New York. Schools in these states have been successful in initiating organic lunch programs in certain districts including Seattle, Berkeley, Santa Monica, and Palo Alto. Additionally, with help from organic yogurt company Stonyfield Farm, schools in Rhode Island, California, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, and Connecticut are offering vending machines stocked with only organic treats. Because the increased cost of organic foods is often a concern, one suggestion to school officials is to simply eliminate dessert from the menu, a cost-cutter that can make offering students organic lunches an affordable option.
If looking for the ultimate go-tos when it comes to organic movements in schools, one need look no further than famed American chef, Alice Waters or Jamie Oliver, Britain’s young chef who prompted the British government to put millions of dollars toward the cause.
Waters pioneered Edible Schoolyard in conjunction with Martin Luther King Junior Middle School in Berkeley, California. Edible Schoolyard provides urban public school students with a one-acre organic garden and a kitchen classroom. Students learn how to grow, harvest, and prepare nutritious seasonal produce. The experiences in the kitchen and garden foster a better understanding of how the natural world sustains us, and promote the environmental and social well-being of the school community. For more information, visit www.edibleschoolyard.org.
Jamie Oliver is doing his work across the pond to incorporate healthier foods into British school systems. Within schools, he is working to make cooking and life-skills classes a must for all students, encouraging them to learn about food and healthy eating habits. He is working with parents and school officials to rid junk food from school cafeterias. Oliver continues to campaign for a 10-year strategic plan that will redirect people back to a proper diet and empower and persuade the public to make healthier choices. As one of Britain’s leading TV personalities, he is making health and organic “cool” for Britain’s young population. For more information on Jamie Oliver and his continued efforts, visit www.jamieoliver.com.
Many organizations are behind making school lunches healthier. Below are a few links: