Climate Action

Earth Day Network Launches National School Lunch Week Campaign

August 27, 2012

Earth Day Network Launches National School Lunch Week Campaign Campaign for Healthy, Sustainable Food Will Fast-forward School Lunch Improvements

WASHINGTON – Earth Day Network launched a new multi-year campaign today to raise the profile of National School Lunch Week and the need to provide K-12 students with healthy, sustainable food. The campaign’s launch comes as millions of American children head back to school and the higher school-food standards of the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” go into effect across the country. “The federal government has taken the first steps to achieve better nutrition in school food programs with the passage of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act and the reaffirmation of National School Lunch Week,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. “Earth Day Network and our partners now have a unique and significant window of opportunity to guide their implementation; to educate students, parents, and school officials; and ultimately to help change the way American children eat and think about their food.” Established by Congress in 1962, National School Lunch Week remained largely unobserved until the Obama administration – bolstered by First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” Initiative – began making yearly proclamations in 2010 to highlight its existence. However, the opportunity to substantively implement National School Lunch Week has gone untapped. This year, National School Lunch Week is October 15-19. Despite increased public focus on obesity and health, children’s health and nutrition in the U.S. is in a state of crisis that campaign organizers say affects our nation’s educational success, job readiness, global competitiveness, the surging cost of healthcare, and environmental sustainability. “The importance of food in schools can hardly be overstated,” said Rogers. “Yet, the food provided to schools is some of the lowest quality food in the country, in terms of both nutrition level and sustainability.” Heavily processed and treated with pesticides and preservatives, the food served in U.S. schools today is much lower in nutrients than fresh, local food, having traveled on average 3,000 miles on its journey between field and fork. “On the other hand, fresh, local food delivers more nutrients, reduces carbon emissions, connects a school to its community and benefits the local economy,” said Rogers. In its first year, the campaign will entail hands-on school vegetable garden and farm-to-school demonstration projects, collecting commitments from schools and parents to advocate for and serve healthy and sustainable food during National School Lunch Week and beyond, delivering healthy-foods curricula to teachers, community screenings of a documentary film presenting school lunch success stories, a student poster contest, lobbying to bolster the National School Lunch Program, and more. The campaign’s programs will focus on pilot-project schools in low-income areas this year and will scale up over time. To learn more about Earth Day Network’s National School Lunch Week Campaign, go to


Earth Day Network mobilizes over one billion people in 192 countries through year-round advocacy, education, public policy and consumer campaigns to protect the environment.

About Earth Day Network’s Green Schools Program In 2007, Earth Day Network, along with the Clinton Foundation, U.S. Green Building Council and several major school districts, made a commitment to “green America’s schools within a generation.” In the years since, Earth Day Network has led a national green schools movement and has worked extensively with the U.S Department of Agriculture, the Department of Education, and other federal agencies on child nutrition and healthy school food. Among its many accomplishments, Earth Day Network’s education program was instrumental in the creation, passage and current success of one of the most progressive pieces of healthy schools legislation ever passed by a municipality: the D.C. Healthy Schools Act, which is serving as a model for many school districts across the country. Earth Day Network was also instrumental in the creation of the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools Program. Earth Day Network takes a comprehensive five-pronged approach to school greenings, focusing on facilities, curriculum, recreation, transportation and food. For more information, go to