Knowledge for better food systems

Future Plates: transforming school lunches in the US

This report from sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future presents findings from a pilot project with ten US school districts and food manufacturers, which aimed to increase consumption of plant-based food options by high school students. 

The seven key insights of the report are:

  • Product development has to be adaptable and work within the constraints of the school food system.
  • Encouraging dietary change is not just about the food, but also about factors such as supportive staff, longer lunch breaks and embedding food education into the curriculum.
  • Behaviour change interventions need to recognise the variation in attitudes and cultures between individual students.
  • Change requires collaboration between school districts and food manufacturers.
  • Behaviour change has to happen in the context of a whole community, including students, staff and parents.
  • Perceptions of new foods need to be shifted away from negative assumptions.
  • Long-lasting change requires a shift in the narrative around food and subsidised food provision.

Read the full report, Future Plates: transforming school lunches to help rebalance diets in the USA, here (PDF link). See also the Foodsource resource What interventions could potentially shift our eating patterns in sustainable directions?

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North America

North America is the northern subcontinent of the Americas covering about 16.5% of the Earth's land area. This large continent has a range of climates spanning Greenland’s permanent ice sheet and the dry deserts of Arizona. Both Canada and the USA are major food producers and some of the largest food exporters in the world. Industrial farms are the norm in North America, with high yields relative to other regions and only 2% of the population involved in agriculture.

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