I laughed out loud on Thursday when I read the post by Robin Shreeves (MNN's Food Blogger) entitled Thursday food "nooooo": school lunches.  I completely empathize with Robin's fear of the school lunch program.  A while back, I blogged about my own school lunch issues over at The Green Parent.  School lunches, whether they are served in house or brought from home, can be rough on the planet. Pesticide-laden foods, mounds of energy-intensive packaging, and a mountain load of waste are a disaster for both human and environmental health. Check out these tips for making you school lunch better for your health, your taste buds, and the planet.

  1. Make it waste-free: School lunches are responsible for mountains of trash. Learn how to make your child's waste-free and ask the school to use reusable napkins, silverware, plates, and cups in lieu of disposables.
  2. Pass the beef: It takes an enormous amount of energy, water, chemicals, and grain to make a burger. Why not make lunch your child's “veggie” meal of the day?
  3. Avoid the vending machinesSodas and vending machine fare are not only terrible for your child's health; they also create waste, and use ingredients that can be harmful to the environment. Pack your child her own drinks and snacks in reusable containers instead.
  4. Find a farm: Farm-to-School is a national program to connect schools with local farms. Through this program, schools get access to fresh, healthy, local produce, the local farmers will get access to a new market, and your children will get better, healthier selections at lunch. 
  5. Compost it: Food scraps account for 12% of the waste stream in the U.S. A compost bin at your child's school can save a bundle in waste removal costs…and it can also save the school $$ on landscape fertilizers.  Whether it’s a large bin that the whole school uses, or a small vermi-composting bin in your child's classroom, composting at school can reduce waste and save money.

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