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It's not easy being green! - Kermit T. Frog   Home K-12 Schools 12 Steps toward Sustainability Food and Food Services

    Purchasing local foods and goods, such as those from local dairy vendor The Farmer's Cow, cuts down on transportation-related costs associated with non-local foods.
Food and Food Services

Food service is an area of consumption in K-12 schools which create a significant environmental impact. In some cases foods are often being transported across oceans and national borders, wasting large amounts of fuel and energy when equivalent products could be purchased from local suppliers. Thus, an important aspect of “Greening” one’s school, is encouraging the consumption of foodstuffs that are less energy intensive and environmentally degrading. A school's purchasing power can be directed to advance sustainable dietary practices and promote sustainable eating habits in its student body.


    Farm-to-School connects K-12 schools with local farms to improve nutrition in schools and support local agriculture.
    Image courtesy CT.gov
  Organizational Assistance   Best Practices  
  • Buy Locally in Season
    Purchasing food is becoming very expensive. The cost of transporting food is one that is often ignored, and foods transported to distant consumers may waste significant amounts of energy. Gasoline and diesel are needed to transport produce from faraway places, and electricity is required for their preservation. These costs are often hidden by government subsidies, so consumers pay for added costs in tax dollars even though they do not pay as much at the market. Additionally, the further food is transported, the more preservation techniques must be used, increasing the likelihood of contamination caused by mishandling. Most of these long distance foods, however, have some equivalent that is locally or regionally grown. Collaboratives exist that support school food purchases from local farms.
  • Eat Low on the Food Chain
    Eating low on the food chain means consuming foods such as grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits. Provide students with the opportunity to eat low on the food chain by making available vegetarian and vegan foods. Make sure that vegetarian and vegan options served in school contain a wide range of beans, grains, seeds, nuts, fruits and vegetables from day to day. The benefits to this type of diet are both environmental and health related. Animals raised for meat require a very large amount of food and water, pesticides, antibiotics and more.
  • Minimize Disposable Trays, Plates and Utensils
    Disposable kitchen materials waste resources that are usually non-renewable. It is best for the school to promote the use of reusable dishes, utensils, and no trays or reusable trays in cafeterias.
  • Support Organic Food Producers
    Organic food production by definition is food production which prohibits the use of artificial pesticides, fertilizers, and preservatives that can pose a health threat to consumers. They also typically utilize polycultures and intercropping to boost production without using chemical fertilizers. Organic farming is far more sustainable than large scale monoculture farming methods as it does not utilize pesticides and minimizes soil erosion by properly managing soil.
  • Promote Reusable Mugs
    Reusable mugs and water bottles are a great way to cut down on waste paper, plastics, and Styrofoam cups. One effective strategy often used to promote the use of these mugs and bottles is to sell them at school stores, and offer a small discount on beverage purchases to students using a mug or bottle.
  • School Gardens
    School gardens are a great way to not only cut costs of food, but to ensure its quality and to engage and educate students on growing their own food. School-run gardens give the institution control over the quality and quantity of food grown, as well as the manner of pest control. The locality of the food supply negates the need for transportation, and with it the associated fuel costs and carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Staples High School, Westport
    • Utilized a local farm and school property for the construction of gardens which provide local, healthy food that requires little fuel and reduces greenhouse gas emissions
Want to learn more? Visit the Keep Connecticut Cool website!
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