Anda di halaman 1dari 5

Running head: SUSTAINABILITY AND THE SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM

Sustainability and the School Lunch Program


Shannon Owens
Drexel University

Running head: SUSTAINABILITY AND THE SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM

What is Sustainable Food?


Eating sustainably refers to making food choices that involve growing or raising food in
ways that protect the physical environment, protect human health, involve humane treatment of
animals, and treat workers fairly (GRACE Communications Foundation, 2015). The Alberta
Rural Sustainable Alternatives Network (ARSAN) provides seventeen principles of sustainable
foods:
1. Food comes directly or indirectly (livestock) from a sustainable, healthy soil that gives
and receives its nutrients in a cycle and over time grows its food-producing capacity
rather than losing it
2. Food production is in sync with the natural environment and supports the biodiversity on
which food production directly or indirectly depends
3. Food can be produced at local climate conditions and with the amount of water available
in the area
4. Production of food at all parts of the supply chain strives to maximize use of sun energy
and minimize use of fossil fuels
5. Food can be obtained from the wild if it is done without damaging the natural ecosystems
6. Livestock is an indispensable part of a healthy sustainable farm environment and its
production is mutually beneficial to animals and the larger ecosystems of which they are
a part
7. Food production supports the diversity of both plants and livestock and also diversity
within species (different breeds and varieties)
8. Food is grown or raised and processed locally, avoiding the costs and environmental
impact of transportation. Geographically, the closer its production is to the point of
consumption, the better
9. Food is processed without industrial ingredients, complex industrial equipment and
facilities that require excessive amounts of energy to build and operate
10. Food requires minimum levels of processing; the less processed it is the better
11. Processing enhances foods nutritional qualities and/or preserves foods for off-season
consumption
12. Food is best if eaten in season; if it is preserved, this should be done with minimal
damage to its nutritional qualities and by using renewable energy
13. Food sustains human health; first, it must not be harmful, but even more importantly, it
has to provide nutrition that will allow people to stay healthy over generations
14. All groups involved in food production; farmers, processors, workers, business people,
traders, etc. can sustain their livelihoods at the level comparable to other sectors of the
society
15. Food is produced by a very diverse and large group of local farmers and food
entrepreneurs; together they form a co-operating, resilient and sustainable web of food
supply
16. Food needs to be tasty, cherished and celebrated when eaten

SUSTAINABILITY AND THE SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM

17. Food contributes to, builds and helps sustain cultures of which it is part
(ARSAN, 2013).
This expansive list ties sustainable foods to environmental conservation, humanist economic
policies, social justice, and physical wellness.
What is the status of School Lunches?
Nearly 44 million meals are served in schools in the United States each day (Center for
Ecoliteracy, 2014). These meals deliver a large portion of students daily caloric intake, and for
many students, provide a necessary source of food security. UNICEF (2013) ties the provision
of sufficient nutrition directly to sustainable development: investment in adequate maternal and
child health, nutrition and adequate water and sanitation for all children provides high paybacks
for society by fulfilling rights and raising the ceiling of development potential. (p. 8). By
focusing attention on the lunch program, schools are taking steps to impact the world for this
generation and beyond.
Unfortunately, current practices for preparing these meals have negative environmental
effects. Among these impacts, the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food (n.d.) cites:
their dependence on animal products, their inclusion large quantities of highly processed foods,
their support large agribusinesses rather than local economies, their production of large quantities
of waste, and the transportation of food across many miles. Perhaps most importantly they
deprive students of the opportunity to learn critical skills about the origins of their foods and
their own relationships with the planet. Barlett (2011) cites water and air pollution, public health
concerns and concern for workers well being as reasons food service providers have
increasingly included environmental and social criteria to their economic choices. While no one
program or event will make the changes necessary for us to live more sustainably, changes to the

SUSTAINABILITY AND THE SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM

provision of food in schools can provide support for growing children, local economies, and the
environment.
How can the cafeteria serve as a classroom?
To help our students become responsible citizens of the world, we must help them
understand the, natural, physical environment as well as the social constructs of society,
economics and governance. Education must help students develop styles of thinking, attitudes
and skills to create a just and sustainable future for all. (Childrens Environmental Literacy
Foundation, 2014). The same organization holds that we must develop a citizenry empowered
to make decisions that will improve the state of ecosystems, the economy, and the health and
well-being of people on the planet. Mayor (2011) argues that the use of food as a tool to
introduce education for sustainability brings the enormous topic to a more manageable size. She
also cites examples of a school integrating the sustainability of its food service program into
mathematics, science and social studies content. Developing a sustainable school food program
provides opportunities for all students to become engaged in learning about these critical issues,
while simultaneously supporting students physical health and academic achievement.
Additionally, a sustainable school lunch program can support local agricultural and food
production businesses, support the professional development of food service staff, and conserve
natural resources.

SUSTAINABILITY AND THE SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM

References
Alberta Rural Sustainable Alternatives Network. (2013). Principles of Sustainable Foods.
Obtained from http://arsan.ca/principles-of-sustainable-foods.html
Barlett, P.F. (2011). Campus sustainable food projects: Critique and engagement. American
Anthropologist, 113, 101-115, doi: 10.1111/j.1548-1433.2010.01309.x
Center for Ecoliteracy. (2014). Making the case for healthy, freshly prepared school meals.
Obtained from
http://www.thecaseforschoolmeals.org/downloads/CEL_making_the_case_research.pdf.
Childrens Environmental Literacy Foundation. (2014). Sustainable sustainability programs.
Obtained from http://celfeducation.org/About.html.
GRACE Communications Foundation. (2015). What does it mean to eat sustainably? Obtained
from http://www.sustainabletable.org/271/food-personal-health.
Mayor, L. (2011). Zero waste total impact: Transforming school lunch. Obtained from
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leah-mayor/sustainable-school-foodgreen_b_842816.html
New York Coalition for Healthy School Food. (n.d.). Environmental issues. Obtained from
http://www.healthyschoolfood.org/environmental.htm
UNICEF. (2013). Sustainable development starts and ends with safe, healthy and well-educated
children. Obtained from
http://www.unicef.org/socialpolicy/files/Sustainable_Development_post_2015.pdf.