In an effort to educate students about various ways to help protect the planet, Atlanta Public Schools’ cafeterias recently featured plant-based recipes and promoted environmentally sustainable efforts as part of Earth Day 2019 activities.
Held in partnership with the Georgia Department of Agriculture on April 19, all school lunch menu items were plant-based to promote healthy eating and the conservation of the earth’s resources.
Students began the day enjoying a new breakfast menu item known as broccoli egg and cheese bake. Lunch items included black bean and corn quesadillas, ranch dip with tortilla chips, ranch wrap sandwiches, vegetarian garden salads, Mexicali corn, broccoli, peach salsa, black bean burgers, and veggie pizza.
“One of the easiest ways to help the planet is to reduce the amount of meat consumed by eating more plant-based foods,” said Angela Douge, APS Farm to School coordinator/regional nutrition compliance specialist. “These foods help the environment because less resources and energy are used in growth and production.”
Environmental sustainability efforts were also recognized across 15 schools in the District. Those schools included Jackson Intermediate, Garden Hills, E. Rivers, Finch, Dobbs, Parkside, Mary Lin, Benteen, Centennial Academy, Deerwood Academy, Cascade, M. Agnes Jones, and Usher-Collier Heights elementary schools, Burgess-Peterson Academy and Brown Middle School.
“As part of those efforts, biodegradable products replaced styrofoam trays and cups and utensils and straw packaging,” Douge said. “The biodegradable products are made of earth-friendly materials such as sugar cane and bamboo, which are sustainable and renewable. These actions will increase the conservation of the earth’s resources and encourage a more sustainable vision for other schools to create in the near future.”
One APS parent said she is thankful for the District’s commitment to improving the planet.
“I hope this will be an opportunity to incorporate more healthy lunch options for students every day,” said Allison Glass, whose two daughers attend Parkside Elementary School. “We’re excited to examine how Parkside can do away with the styrofoam trays permanently. Imagine the national model and accolades APS would receive if we did this system wide!”