A recent article highlighted the importance of efficient and effective school menu planning. This school district in California reinvented its school lunch program and not only increased the nutrition of its meals for students, but saved money and reduced its carbon footprint at the same time. The Oakland Unified School District’s school menu planning offered less meat and cheese, while increasing the beans and fresh product on the plate–and also sourcing higher-quality meats.
How can school districts–low on financial and human resources–feed students healthy meals AND protect the environment? It’s a problem all school districts face. With budget cuts, bureaucratic red tape, district politics, USDA regulations, complexities of school menu planning, and employees spread thin, it’s no wonder that big changes to the cafeteria and lunch menu–and school menu planning in particular–take a back seat to other initiatives. The bandwidth simply isn’t there. With so many options or so many arenas to tackle, where do you start?
In the case of the Oakland school district,
“By increasing the district’s fruit, vegetable, and legume purchases by 10 percent, reducing its meat and dairy purchases by 30 percent, and improving the quality of its meat by buying organic grass-fed beef from retired dairy cows in Northern California, FOE found that OUSD reduced its carbon footprint by 14 percent, reduced its water use by nearly 6 percent, spent 1 percent less per meal, and saved $42,000 in the process.”
Changing school food menus requires an immense effort and it also requires experience and planning to make changes seamless and effectively. At Health-e Pro, we continuously work to make school menu planning simple and easy so you can try out possible menu and product changes. We help you gain back your personal bandwidth so you can focus on finding ways to save money while not sacrificing nutrition. Small, incremental changes, when thoughtfully planned, can make a dramatic difference. In this case, you can turn it into a win-win-win for the environment, for health, and for the district in the form of financial savings.