Six of the biggest public school districts in the United States are working together to get more healthy foods on kids' plates while using more sustainable products, starting with compostable dishware. The school districts in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Orlando have formed the Urban School Food Alliance to cut the costs of serving healthy meals.
"This show of solidarity is unprecedented," says David Binkle, Director of Los Angeles Unified School District Food Services.
Because of local, conflicting regulations about how food is purchased, they aren't buying in bulk. Rather, they figure that vendors can lower prices for quality foods if they provide the same lunch to 2.9 million children. Besides common menus, the Alliance is currently focused on switching from Styrofoam to compostable plates, a switch of 271 million plates and trays a year.
"We want to set the tone for the marketplace, rather than having the marketplace tell us what's available," Leslie Fowler, who directs nutrition support services for Chicago's school system, told the NY Times.
Each school system is in charge of developing one aspect of the program: NYC is developing specifications for purchasing chicken (antibiotic, hormone-free), Miami is working on compostable plates, Dallas is focusing on cutlery, and Los Angeles is in charge of marketing and communication. All the schools will place their orders using the very same specs, making it much easier for food vendors to provide those foods at lower prices.
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