The “plate to planet connection” – the notion that what we eat matters as it impacts the environment and helps to fight climate change – is about to get a boost in American schools. Impossible Foods, a plant-based meat company in California, has received a Child Nutrition (CN) label from the USDA. CN labeled products are easier to serve in school cafeterias, as the labels denote information about portion sizes. The label was approved in April. Other CN products, such as pizza, beef patties, burritos, and fish, will be joined by Impossible Foods’ plant-based pasta sauce, tacos, and frito pies.
A few school districts in California have tested Impossible Foods in their cafeterias as a part of a pilot program to gauge their student’s reactions. One of the participants, Palo Alto Unified, tested Impossible Food samples with students in Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School and Henry M. Gunn High School. According to Alva Spence, the district’s food service director, they have not made a decision on whether to continue serving impossible products. Other participants include Union Public Schools in Oklahoma and Aberdeen School District in Washington. School districts interested in the program can reach out by emailing email@example.com.
To complement the CN’s launch, Impossible Foods conducted a nationwide survey to find out what K-12 students know about global warming.
The survey found that only 54% of the students said that raising animals contributed “somewhat to a lot” to climate change. A similar number was reported by adults.
The company provided a statement on their blog to accompany the study, “Despite the recent success of meat alternatives, many still don’t understand the “plate to planet connection” and the impact that what we eat has on the planet. A 2014 survey found that 64 percent of respondents identified direct transport emissions as a major contributor to climate change, compared to only 29 percent who singled out meat and dairy production, even though the contribution to overall emissions is almost equal between the two sectors.”
For other schools interested in offering plant-based meats, legislation is on the table to help them begin.
Two democratic representatives, Jamaal Bowman and Nydia Velázquez, introduced The Healthy Future Students and Earth Pilot Program Act to congress in June. If passed, the act would create a grant program to assist school districts in serving plant-based meals. The funds would provide for a district’s culinary training, student engagement, and any additional labor. As for what’s on the menu, the program calls for ingredients sourced from local producers, veterans, women, and small businesses.
The act prioritizes handing out funds to school districts with the most food-insecure students first, leading some supporters to believe the act will help fight child hunger as well as climate change. Around a hundred organizations support the act, joined by representatives like Eleanor Holmes Norton and Yvette Clarke.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists or contributors are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo: Impossible Foods plant-based meat. Featured Photo Credit: Impossible Foods.