Schools are the place where students go to learn, and part of what they learn about, at least in certain grades, is nutrition. While what they are taught about nutrition is influenced by the food industry, and is therefore less than ideal, it is at least far better than how most American’s are eating these days. When schools offer foods and beverages that are inconsistent with what students are being taught, the hypocrisy is not lost on students. Schools act “in loco parentis” (in place of parents) and when children pass through the front doors of a school, parents expect that their child will be cared for and protected while they are at school. The school food environment is a microcosm of the food environment in our society, and it contributes not just to obesity, but also to setting children up for heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, behavioral problems, and poor health regardless of whether the student is overweight or not.
Cool School Food in New York City and Ithaca are partnerships between the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, the school districts, businesses and organizations to develop, test, and implement plant-based, made from scratch, international bean-based recipes in school cafeterias. The program seeks to introduce the recipes with promotional events and educational materials designed to make trying new foods and learning about their health benefits both fun and exciting. In Ithaca, Cool School Food is also a Farm to School Program, featuring locally grown, organic beans and grains grown at Cayuga Pure Organics!