In Honor of Earth Day: 8 Simple Ideas for a Greener (and Healthier!) School
|April 22, 2014||Posted by Stacy under Eco friendly lunch gear, Making change, School wellness programs, USDA policy|
Hey, everybody–it’s Earth Day! Last year, it was my goal to eat only local foods for one full day at home. This year, I’m focusing on ways to minimize waste and be more eco-conscious at school. Because as we know, there’s more to school wellness than just healthy eating and physical activity. So with no further ado…8 ideas for creating a healthier, greener school:
Salvage uneaten fruit While I appreciate and support the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) nutrition standards for school meals, there have been reports of more food ending up in the trash. On a recent visit to our local high school cafeteria, I observed quite a few students disposing of untouched fruits like apples and oranges. That’s why I’m working to ensure it doesn’t go to waste. Our elementary school kitchen manager already has spearheaded an effort to place leftover fruit in a bowl and leave it near the front office with a sign that says “free for the taking.” And later today, I’ll be talking to the head of our local food pantry about recruiting volunteers to collect uneaten fruit and redistributing it to those in need.
Ask about buying locally Talk to your food service director about the possibilities for purchasing more produce and meat from local farmers. While it’s hard to compete with USDA commodity prices, locally grown foods that are in season may be an affordable option.
Have a waste-free lunch sale Promote waste reduction and raise money for your school by hosting a sale of U-Konserve eco-friendly stainless steel lunch gear. U-Konserve will let you sell products at 20 percent off, or give 20 percent back to your school.
Start a Cool the Earth program Inspire K-8 students to take simple steps to fight global warming. As part of the Cool the Earth program, each child receives a booklet of Cool the Earth coupons coupons featuring simple, energy-saving actions that they and their families can take to reduce carbon emissions. All it takes is one parent volunteer to run it (with minimal time commitment), and it doesn’t cost a cent.
Organize a Walk or Bike to School Day Encourage kids and staff to ditch the car and head to school on foot or bike instead. I’m currently working on getting volunteers for my school’s Walk or Bike to School Day next month!
Plan a Farmers’ Market Treasure Hunt Talk to your child’s teacher about taking a class trip to your local farmers’ market, where you can snack on locally grown organic goodies, meet the farmers and learn about the food system with this fun treasure hunt idea from The Produce Lady.
Start a Healthy Child & Earth Committee Form a group to address ways to be more eco-conscious and healthy, like Lisa from 100 Days of Real Food. You even may find your school community more receptive to change if you switch the focus from food and to environmental issues.
Throw a Healthy “Green” Fundraiser Instead of candy and other junk, ask your school PTA about selling tree growing kits instead. Earth Day Network and ForestNation have teamed up to create this healthy fundraiser that can earn your school up to 80 percent of the profits.
What’s your school doing to be more environmentally friendly? Please share in the comments section below!