Procuring Healthy, Sustainable
Food for Schools

As the American diet has shifted towards more processed, high-fat, high-sugar foods, the health of our children has suffered. Obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Today, over 18% of children ages 6–19 are obese. Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer and osteoarthritis as adults. With more than 30 million students, schools play a critical role providing opportunities for children to access healthier food and practice nutritious eating. For many students, school is their only consistent source of nourishment through meal programs. While at first glance it may seem daunting to adjust a school food procurement system to healthier (ideally local) choices, there are an increasing number of schools and districts that have already set a precedent with healthy, innovative programs.  Learn more about procuring healthy, sustainable food for your school to provide nourishing meals and teach children about food choices, nutrition, and the food system.

Tip: Also visit our National & State Green School Programs page to learn more about local and national Green School programs and resources to help you improve the health & sustainability of your school!

Before You Start

Form an Action Team

USDA Toolkit: Build a Farm-to-School Team

Eco Schools Sustainable Food Pathway

Design and Preparation

Conduct a Sustainable Food Audit


Develop a Sustainable Food Action Plan

Procure Healthy Food for Your School:

  • School Food Focus: Procurement Change Toolkit
  • Guide to Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs
  • Good Procurement Practices, Competitive Purchasing & Forecasting
  • School Meal Policy Guidance:

  • USDA Food & Nutrition Service School Meal Policy Guidance
  • Sample Policy & Protocols for School Gardens & Garden to Cafeteria
  • Get Involved with Your Local Food Policy Council (State Directory)
  • Networking Opportunities:

  • USDA Toolkit: Build a Farm-to-School Team
  • Participate in the Farm to Cafeteria Conference
  • Become a Seed Change Partner to Create a Farm-To-School Program
  • Join/Start an Alliance for Healthy Schools Program (Search by State)
  • Become a Farm to School Network Partner or Member
  • Also See: Healthy, Sustainable School Food Initiatives

    Also See: Edible Food Gardens

    Using Your Project

    In Defense of Food Curriculum (ages 10+)

    Johns Hopkins FoodSpan: Standards Aligned High School Curriculum

    EPA Lesson Plans, Teacher Guides & Online Resources for Educators

    Eco Schools K-12 Resources for Educators

    Eco Schools National Standards & Curriculum Alignment

    Green Education Foundation: Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

    Learning Lab Sustainability Lessons

    Project Learning Tree Curriculum Offerings

    Sharing Your Project

    Team Nutrition Popular Events Idea Notebook

    Engage EVERYONE with the “The School Day Just Got Healthier” Toolkit!

    Involve Parents & Others Enhancing & Implementing a School Wellness Policy

    Nutrition Education & Promotion Materials

    Forward Food Posters, Postcards & More

    Golden Carrot Award: Food Service Healthy School Lunch Improvement

    Create Signs About Healthy Food Tips & Efforts

    Resource Center

    Project Resource Library: Learn More!
    National & State Green Schools Programs
    Bay Backpack Teaching Resources Search Engine
    Where Your Food Comes From: Farm-Based Education Network Resources
    Farm to School Network Resources Search Engine
    EPA Learning & Teaching About the Environment (awards, resources, more)