By Barbara Kessler
There are so many ways that getting green is a win-win situation. Adding greens to your diet is healthful, and the more vegetarian your menu, the easier it is on the planet because eating lower on the food chain doesn’t require the extensive use of resources required to raising livestock.
Lately we’ve been watching a green food movement in a surprising place: the school cafeteria. Yes, it’s true, many schools are making a paradigm shift away from fattening, fried and overly meaty school lunches. They are offering more veggie side dishes and more frequent vegetarian entrees in response to concerns that too many American children are overweight and are even developing diabetes and high blood pressure as a result of their fatty, sugary diets.
The federal government in this case appears to be leading the way. They’ve enacted more flexible guidelines for school food directors to make it easier to substitute soy and other high-protein foods for meat and have broadened the fresh produce available under the subsidized commodities program, which many critics blamed for encouraging schools’ over-reliance on meat and dairy products.
If your local school is not among the trendsetters, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, wants to help you help your local district get on a healthier path. Their Making it Happen website delves into six ways schools can do a better job with nutrition exploring how to negotiate better contracts with vending companies and how to create incentives for students to eat better. Each section includes success stories from districts that have already made significant improvements; so your school officials can’t argue that it can’t be done.
Here are the USDA links by category:
- Establish nutrition standards for competitive foods [85K, p. 26-32]
Success Stories [100K, p. 33-50]
- Influence food and beverage contracts [70K, p. 51-54]
Success Stories [90K, p. 55-70]
- Make more healthful foods and beverages available [85K, p. 71-76]
Success Stories [220K, p. 77-112]
- Adopt marketing techniques [65K, p. 113-118]
Success Stories [165K, p. 119-144]
- Limit student access to competitive foods [90K, p. 145-148]
Success Stories [80K, p. 149-158]
- Use fundraising activities and rewards [60K, p. 159-162]
Success Stories [105K, p. 163-172]