How can high schools implement not only nutritious but environmentally sustainable foods into their meal plans?


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Over 2020 during quarantine, I started to focus on the food I was eating and putting my physical and mental well-being first. Coming back to in-person learning in the fall of 2020, I suddenly realized the need for not only nutritious, but environmentally conscious food served in schools. With many schools cooking hot lunch, students don’t second guess that the food the school is serving them. However, through my Climate Change and Global Inequality Class, I have learned that some foods may look nutritious, yet they are doing terrible things for our environment. Schools’ kitchen staff members need education on food that is environmentally sustainable in order help our planet, and give the students delicious and nutritious food. Secondly, there is a lack in knowledge of whether to recycle, compost, or just throw their food in the trash. Through my project, I will be creating potential meals for schools to serve their kids, while also creating signs that can be posted in cafeterias to help students recycle and save the environment. The smallest actions make the biggest difference. It seems like it’s not the end of the world, but when the world we live in is full of pollution, our oceans are full of trash, and all the coral reefs are gone, there is nothing you can do to save them. 

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You can’t save the environment in a day. It’s a process that requires everyone, no matter how big or how small the action. They are many ways to start saving the environment, but it starts with you. My plan for making an impact on an individual level is making the most environmentally conscious choices I can whether it comes to eating the right food, recycling, or planting my own garden to produce my own vegetables. Once I have implemented change on an individual scale, it is time to get my community involved. The more the better! On a society level, I plan to educate those around me: my fellow classmates, siblings, and friends. It starts with informing others on the pressing issue of climate change, and then comes the actions. I plan to post signs throughout my school encouraging environmentally sustainable food choices and whether to recycle or compost. I believe that these initiatives are effective, because when it comes to the environment, every small action counts.  My project will not only encourage others to implement change in their own lives, but to change the the way those around them eat and get rid of food. In the end, one poster can go a long way. This project has taught me the importance of educating others on how food impacts climate change and that the smallest actions make the biggest difference. 


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Why are these foods environmentally sustainable and nutritious?

A meal idea for schools to serve their students consists of salmon, quinoa, and broccoli. In addition there is a salad bar filled with organically grown fruits and vegetables to compliment the meal. Salmon is both a nutritious and environmentally sustainable source of protein because a 100g serving contains around 25 grams of protein. Salmon benefits the environment, because unlike cows, sheeps, and goats that burp of methane when they digest, salmon does not release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Quinoa, and many other protein rich plants, such as nuts, grains, and legumes, are all good ways of including food in our diets to help with climate change. The salad bar I have proposed contains organic and locally grown produce. Because the produce is locally grown, large pieces of land are not being cleared. Locally grown food requires less fossil fuels for transport, releasing fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. All of the food in the proposed meal and salad bar are better for the environment, while still attaining the nutritious value needed for energy, focus, and good health. 

I would love to hear what you guys think about my project! Make sure to leave a comment below on your thoughts!

Answering a few of these questions would help me learn how to continue my project in the future:

  • If any of you practice nutritious and sustainable eating, what led you to that diet?
  • What did you like about my meal ideas?
  • If any on you guys are hesitant about adopting a environmentally sustainable diet, why is that?


Here is my bibliography



  1. Hi Caroline! I am very proud of the work you created! It is evident that you thought this through and took the time and effort to collect your information in a way that the viewerr can digest it and then hopefully make positive changes. Kudos to you for receiving the Citation Award!

  2. Wonderful job! I’ve always had an issue with the lack of healthy and sustainable school cafeteria food. I think one of the first steps is just reducing food waste. I went to public school through 8th grade and we never had a compost bin or even recycling in the cafeteria. Everything just went in the garbage. It would be such a simple fix to separate waste into different bins, and it would make a huge difference since a lot of kids don’t eat all their food. Maybe if it was delicious and fresh, they would. Salmon, quinoa, and broccoli are great ideas. I think public schools should start making fresh meals with whole foods like grains, legumes, and vegetables. This would be more work for the cafeteria staff, but many public schools have lunch duty for kids, and they could also probably stand to pay their kitchen workers more. Another idea is to have school gardens that the students help take care of. It would be a great educational experience as well as a way to supply food for lunch! Lastly, more vegetarian food would be great for the environment. I’m vegetarian, mainly for environmental reasons, and schools employing a “Meatless Monday” would have a dramatic effect.

  3. Hi Caroline! I’ve heard some controversies surrounding fish farming and the negative ecological threats that it may pose. Could you provide some further insight as to how salmon is more sustainably efficient than other kinds of fish?

  4. Caroline, I really enjoyed watching your video, reading your research, and looking over your signs and meal ideas. You’ve provided some practical solutions that I can follow through with individually and collectively. It’s likely we’ll have a new food service provider at Potomac next year, and I hope you’ll perhaps set up a meeting with them in the fall to share your findings and begin a partnership with them as you seek more sustainable meal plans for all of our students. Great work!

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