I think one of the best things we’ve done here in the United States is implement strong nutrition standards for school meals. That means children have access to good quality food in school, which helps them learn and grow.
And in the United States alone, school meals reach over 30 million kids, including a high percentage who are from families with low incomes.
So aligning school meals with a planet-friendly diet has great potential. If we do a better job of offering and marketing appealing, healthy plant-based meals in schools, kids will eat them.
The U.S. government could also do a much better job at supporting sustainable dietary principles through national dietary guidelines that are healthy and environmentally and socially sustainable.
Other countries—such as Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, and Qatar—have incorporated environmental sustainability principles into their guidelines. That has not yet occurred in the United States.
The administration could also consider ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Currently, we are the only remaining country in the world that has not ratified this international treaty to protect children’s right to healthy foods, health, and supportive environments.
These ideas are just a start. We need to apply the science and collaborate across borders to use a systems approach to create bold new solutions that prioritize children’s health and reverse the impacts of climate change.
[Note: A study published in Health Affairs finds that aligning national nutrition standards for school meals with the EAT-Lancet Commission’s planetary health diet would provide high-quality nutrition for kids, reduce food costs, and benefit the environment.]