Steps toward sustainable school food

Published on: 
2 Mar 2016
Author: 
Greg Christian

Greg Christian is a sustainable food service consultant, chef, author and entrepreneur. His company, Beyond Green Sustainable Food Partners, is a food service and consulting company that promotes scratch-cooked foods, local sourcing and zero waste. Don’t miss an opportunity to hear his insights at the Master Speaker Series event during the upcoming Green Schools Conference and Expo in Philadelphia, Penn. This article was originally published on the Green Schools National Network blog. Read the original version.

I recently did a three-day food waste study with the Environmental Protection Agency at a school district in Illinois.  Here is what we found: 10-20 percent overproduction, 100 percent processed food, canned vegetables that were individually cupped, and food placed in warmers by 10:00 a.m. for lunch service at 12:00 p.m. It’s no wonder that students are tossing their lunches in the garbage can! 

If I could choose two things to focus on to change school food, they would be teaching the kitchen staff how to cook and about "just in time cooking." This enables them to serve fresh foods and make the right amount of food so there is no overproduction, resulting in food waste.  Without this, none of the policies, standards, or laws will help us serve better food to our nation's children. There are many great intentions around moving school food to include tastier, fresh, local, sustainable meals, but it all starts with knowing how to cook from scratch. Scratch cooking is preparing meals using basic ingredients from a natural state rather than serving foods that have already been prepared or processed. 

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