Credit: Johnny Miller

Cost: Low (less than $100)

Commitment: High

Green Impact: 5 out of 5

If your child's school district isn't one of the more than 2,000 that are starting to replace processed cafeteria foods with fresher options, there are still ways you can make a difference.

Find other concerned parents, tap into the resources of, and draw up a plan.

How to Make It Happen

1. Do Your Homework

Get a copy of your school district's wellness policy and see whether your school is meeting its nutritional standards. No need to reinvent the wheel here. Just research existing farm-to-school programs (through, especially those nearby.

2. Build a Team

Enlist teachers, the school principal, and the cafeteria manager as allies. "Don't get preachy," says Kim Johnson, who started the Hawaii farm-to-school education program 'Aina in Schools with her husband, musician and green giant Jack Johnson. "You don't want to come in and tell them that everything they've been doing is wrong." See if you can partner with local farmers, restaurants, health professionals, gardening programs, and nonprofits.

3. Think Big, Start Small

Present a realistic plan to the PTA. You can't accomplish everything in the first year. Start with a monthly healthy snack and move toward a weekly salad bar. Or plant a small garden on school grounds that teachers can work into the science curriculum. "The idea is to just start something," Johnson says.

4. Stay Positive

Remember, this is not about toppling the whole system -- it's about teamwork. "We can benefit the students, the school, and the local food producers if we all work together," Johnson says.


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