There has been a lot of hubbub lately about school lunch programs thanks to attention from the First Lady and her Let’s Move! initiative as well as demonstrations by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who outright attacked the L.A. public school system for their lack of nutrition in school lunches and their general unwillingness to listen to his plans for an affordable overhaul. And while changes seem to be in the works thanks to more and more parents jumping on the bandwagon and demanding healthier options for their children, the mindset has not yet extended to making school lunches more eco-friendly in the process. And since you probably don’t want to wait for administrators to get their heads out of the sand, it is incumbent upon you to make these changes in your own home by providing your kids with the healthy and green fare you prefer. Here are just a few tips to help you get started.
Providing healthy lunches for your kids starts with giving them fresh produce. But if you want to make a green choice as well as a healthy one, the place to begin is with organics. As you may know, organic fruits and veggies are grown without the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and so on. This means that they are not only a healthier option for you and your family to consume, but they also decrease the amount of toxins seeping into the ground (and the ground water) to the detriment of surrounding ecosystems. As for organic animal products (meat, eggs, dairy, etc.), these items are raised without hormones and antibiotics, they are often fed only organic grains, and many are free-range and otherwise humanely treated. So you can feel good about giving these products to your kids.
But there are other ways to go green with school lunches, as well. One good option is to skip the brown bags. While it may be easier to give your kids disposable sacks for their food so that you don’t have to worry about them remembering to bring containers home, this process is responsible for deforestation (and all the subsequent issues that follow). Consumers that want to go green need to discard (no pun intended) the disposable mentality. Instead, entrust your kids with this minor responsibility by providing them with reusable lunch boxes, lunch bags, or bento boxes, just for example. And if you want to go the extra mile, purchase products that are manufactured sustainably (with recycled materials and/or eco-friendly practices).
Of course, you should still do your part to rally for better lunch options at school. Since many parents can’t afford to provide nutritious and environmentally sound fare for their own kids they must rely on the school lunch program to do so. Every parent dreams of sending their kids to college (or at least enrolling them in online MBA programs), but in the meantime it can be a struggle to ensure that they’re getting the proper nutrients that will allow them to be strong, healthy, and focused in school. Your voice can help to ensure that every child has access to healthy foods, as well as a future free of pollution. So even if you are able to provide for your own kids, don’t forget that you can do more by supporting the movement to improve public school lunch programs.