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School Meals are a Climate Solution

There are nearly 50 million students enrolled in almost 100,000 public schools across the nation. These students eat a significant portion of their daily calories at school and with Universal Free Meal programs expanding, schools meals are a powerful way to shift our food system. Every day, we have the opportunity to invest in the next generation of mindful eaters who can make choices to address the climate crisis. With Eat REAL’s support, school food leaders across the country are making a big difference.

Eat REAL works with public school food service programs to integrate nutritious foods into school meals, while also working towards their climate goals. All elements of our food system contribute to the climate crisis—from cultivating the soil to the act of growing to transportation—these activities contribute over half of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Fortunately, we know what to do! Eat REAL addresses the climate crisis by supporting schools in focusing on plant-based meals, purchasing more regenerative organic ingredients, and increasing local sourcing and reducing food waste.

Livestock is one of the primary emitters of greenhouse gases in the agriculture sector, so reducing animal protein consumption even just one day a week has a major impact. When farmers focus on improving their soil health with organic and regenerative practices, we all benefit and the buying power of our school food system is a powerful way to support these farmers. Purchasing food in your local region reduces food miles traveled, reducing the associated greenhouse gases emissions as well. About one third of the food we produce is lost or wasted. According to the USDA, the annual emissions from this lost and wasted food is equal to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of 42 coal-fired power plants. Implementing standards for reducing food waste is a powerful way to tackle these emissions.

This week Eat REAL CEO Nora LaTorre dove further into school food’s potential to support our efforts in addressing the climate crisis at TedX event in Boston.  Stay tuned to watch the recording soon!

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