The COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis have intensified inaccessibility to healthy foods, while half of Americans already suffering from diet-related diseases. Now, it is more urgent than ever to make healthy and climate-friendly food accessible in schools. California School Districts spend $1.5 billion annually to provide meals to nearly four million students. Many of these students come from low-income families. Therefore, food that we decide to serve has profound impact on students’ health, their educational outcomes and our planet.
Figure 1: Top menu items in California’s school lunches
Friends of the Earth analyzed lunch menus of California’s 25 largest school districts and found that 94% of entrees feature animal proteins, 25% entrees contain cheese and 16% of meals include processed meats. Beef, chicken and cheese are most frequently offered menu items and plant-based proteins are notably limited. Red meat dishes make up 4 of 10 most commonly offered entrees. Moreover, three of most frequently offered menu items contain processed meats. These food items are rich in saturated fat, sodium and nitrite that are associated with increasing risk of several chronic diseases and recommended to reduce them in healthy dietary pattern by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines.
Therefore, we are recommending California School Districts to adopt a resolution of Vision 2025 to replace 50% animal derived food with healthy and climate friendly plant-based foods. If you have any questions regarding advocating for above resolution, please contact us at email@example.com .