Foodprints for the Future

Happy National School Lunch Week!

Science Daily estimates that by 2020 as many as 16 million kids under the age of 5 will be obese. Despite increased public focus on obesity and health, children’s health and nutrition in the US is in a state of crisis that affects our nation’s educational success, job readiness, global competitiveness, and the surging cost of healthcare. This is an epidemic that demands multiple strategies and tactics. The importance of food in schools can hardly be over-stated. Switching from preserved foods to fresh fruits and vegetables will also help the environment. With almost 20% of global carbon emissions originating from the global food system, greening food supplies and cafeterias can greatly reduce a schools’ carbon footprint. It is imperative to look at the food cycle as a whole when choosing what is the most healthy and sustainable for all students around the country.

On October 7, 2011, Congress and the President established National School Lunch Week with a Proclamation recognizing that “children are America’s greatest treasure” that “too many children go without proper nutrition.” This year, National School Lunch Week will be held on October 12th through 16th. The National School Lunch Program is one of the most successful federal programs ever initiated during the modern era. Created as a direct response to alarming levels of malnourished U.S. children during WWII, the program has garnered considerable bipartisan support. Over 99% of all public schools now participate in the program, with over 219 billion lunches served including today’s 32 million lunches on a daily basis – 21 million of which are free or at reduced price.

This year Earth Day Network has put together a fun and informative National School Lunch Week menu writing challenge, that allows high school and middle school students to team up and design their dream school lunches. But there are no French fries and burgers on this menu. Students have to create a week-long menu that is equal parts delicious, sustainable, and healthy!

All submissions to the Challenge are due October 30th!