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Urban Schools Strive for Environmentally Friendly Lunch Programs
posted by: Ruthie | December 02, 2013, 07:58 PM   

As support grows for environmentally conscious food programs, schools are beginning to catch on to the growing movement. Anyone who has been in to a school cafeteria knows how much food often goes to waste. Now urban school cafeterias, including those in Miami-Dade County, are leading the way toward a sustainable and environmentally aware lunch program.

In Miami, plates are made from sugar cane and can be re-used by farmers as compost. As the program spreads, the 345,000 students in the Miami-Dade County school system along with more than 2.6 million others nationwide will make the move to this new system by the start of next school year. Based on this policy alone, 271 million plates a year will be re-used, replacing enough foam trays to create a stack of plastic several hundred miles tall.

Led by the Urban School Food Alliance, the movement won’t stop at compostable plates. The Alliance’s next move is for antibiotic-free chicken and other health conscious meals. Other goals include sustainable tableware, pesticide-free fruit and goods with less packaging waste.

Backed by advocacy groups and districts searching for long-term ways to cut costs, the movement is spreading to Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, and Orlando. These urban schools are hoping their joint efforts will persuade suppliers to create and sell healthier, affordable, and more environmentally friendly products.

“I want our money and resources for food going into children, not in garbage going to the landfill,” said Penny Parham, the Miami school district’s administrative director of food and nutrition.

While wide sweeping changes will take years, the alliance believes the movement will positively change nutrition and sustainability policies across the nation. Farmers will be more supported, antibiotic-resistant bacteria will be less of a threat, and students have the potential to be healthier. Successful implementation in schools could also be translated to hospitals, universities, and other large institutions.

What do you think about this movement? Is your school participating in any environmentally conscious initiatives?
Comment below.


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