What pops into your head when you think of school cafeteria lunch lines? If you’re like us, memories of glaring hot lamps shining on greasy pepperoni pizzas or slices of rubbery meatloaf come to mind.
Every year in the U.S., the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) serves 30 million K-12 kids 5 billion lunches.
3 National School Lunch Program Fast Facts.
The United States operates the largest domestic restaurant chain, the NSLP, and it's hidden inside your child's school cafeteria.
The NSLP serves twice as many lunches a day as McDonald's.
Serves more domestic locations than Subway, Starbucks and McDonald’s combined.
Unfortunately because of kickbacks and outdated policies, the NSLP, operated by the USDA, fills cafeteria menus with highly-processed meat and dairy-heavy meals. Hamstrung by their reliance on the program, food service professionals are resource-strapped as they work with limited budgets, outdated equipment and minimal staff.
OMD supports school districts regionally across Rhode Island, North Carolina and California to offer a hot plant-based lunch every day to K-12 kids by resourcing food service professionals and engaging policymakers and food service manufacturing companies. Bringing our state-specific experience, we also work with the Healthy, Climate-Friendly School Lunch Coalition to grow access to healthy, climate-friendly school lunch by developing resources and also through online and in-person events.
Some of our materials include a guide to support the people feeding America’s kids, OMD’s Plant-Based Food Service Guide for K-12 Schools — complete with more than a week of kid-approved, fully reimbursable school lunch recipes and a parent one-sheet. We also created a School Lunch Toolkit for Change with our partners at PCRM, Chef Ann Foundation and Friends of the Earth for advocates to work with decision makers to create greener cafeterias, one school lunch at a time.
Why We Care.
Health: Bright, healthy kids need the right fuel! Plant-forward diets protect kids from health risks like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease later in life. Plus, studies show that children eating plant-rich diets grow as tall or taller than kids eating meat-heavy meals. We can boost children’s intake of vegetables, grains, fruits, legumes and nuts by guiding them to eat at least one plant-based meal a day.
Environment: Industrialized animal agriculture is the #2 contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, contributing more than all transportation combined. It’s also the largest driver of deforestation and wildlife extinction, water use and pollution, and dead zones in the ocean.
But imagine the change we can create for our wild living Earth. For example, if every student participating in the NSLP chose a plant-based meal for a year, it would be like:
All California households not using water
Every car in Oregon off the road
Saving a forest the size of New York
Here lies both the problem, and the opportunity for schools, passionate parents, students and administrators to make an impact by influencing school districts to serve delicious and healthy, plant-based, climate-friendly foods.
Plant-Based Support for Food Service Professionals.
After talking to food service professionals around the country, we created a new resource to support the hardworking people dedicated to feeding our kids — OMD’s Plant-Based Food Service Guide for K-12 Schools. Inside, we answered top questions from the field and created free, specially-designed materials to set them up for success including more than a week’s worth of NSLP-eligible, fully reimbursable school lunch recipes, a one-sheet to educate parents, marketing collateral for students and more.
Whether you’re a food service pro looking to offer healthy meals to your students, or if you’re a passionate supporter looking to start a revolution in your school cafeteria, consider this your handbook to get there.
Download the Plant-Based Food Service Guide today!
OMD’s School Lunch Recipe Book.
One of the most requested resources from busy food service professionals is where to start in the kitchen. That’s why we created the OMD School Lunch Recipe Book that offers more than a week of kid-approved fully reimbursable school lunch recipes. Download today to help serve up better school food that’s budget-friendly and healthier for students and the planet.
OMD Talks: Free Webinar Series
Getting plant-based school lunch options in cafeterias is a process, whether you’re a parent working closely with your school district, or food service staff making a case for updating your menus. To help, we’ve developed a series of free webinars on our YouTube channel that spotlights school lunch heroes sharing stories and tips to create change.
OMD seeks to increase access to healthier, climate-friendly foods in K-12 schools with the help of people like you. Together with our partners at Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Friends of the Earth and Chef Ann Foundation, you can join the movement to create change.
Be part of the OMD community! Sign up for our OMD Newsletter for tips, recipes, updates, campaign news and more!
As a special thanks for signing up, you’ll also get our free OMD Starter Guide to help support you on your delicious plant-based eating adventure.