Greening School Food: A Northeast Forum on Climate-Friendly School Food

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University at Albany Campus Center

1400 Washington Avenue


Albany, NY 12206

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**CEU Information: If you attend the full day, you will earn you 7 CEUS through the National SNA! Nutrition, Operations and Administration Topic Areas**

Friends of the Earth and Tisch Food Center at Teachers College Columbia University are excited to invite you to a Greening School Food Forum specifically designed for the Northeast. This is the third in a series of regional forums being held around the country to provide education and inspiration, highlight district-level efforts towards serving more plant-forward menus, and cultivate new relationships and leadership among school foodservice professionals and stakeholders.


8:15 to 9:00: Registration, coffee and mingling

9:00 to 10:15: Introduction & Opening Remarks
Welcome: Mary Ellen Mallia, Director of Sustainability, University at Albany
Why healthy, climate-friendly foodservice? – Kari Hamerschlag, Friends of the Earth
The health benefits of plant-forward meals – Dr. Milton Mills

Mini-Keynote: The intersection of child nutrition and food justice – Pam Koch, Executive Director and Research Associate Professor, Tisch Food Center, Program in Nutrition, Teachers College, Columbia University

10:15 - 12:00: Climate-Friendly School Food Case Studies
Introduction & Moderation – Jen Dalton, Kitchen Table Consulting & Friends of the Earth

Beth Krause, R.D. – Director of Child Nutrition, Ithaca City School District

Mellissa Honeywood, R.D. –Director of Food and Nutrition Services, Cambridge Public Schools

Stephen O’BrienDirector of Strategic Partnerships, New York City Department of Education Office of School Food

Bill Whitcomb, Jr. – Compliance Director of Whitsons Culinary Group

12:00 – 1:15: Plant-Based Lunch, Short Video and Keynote with Yadira Garcia

1:15 - 2:45: First Steps, Next Steps: Resources for Change
Introduction & Moderation – Jen Dalton

Meatless MondaysJoy Lehman
Food ForwardStefanie Heath
Chef Ann FoundationEmily Gallivan

Tisch Food Center, Teachers College Columbia University Claire Raffel
Physicians Committee for Responsible MedicineMaggie Neola

Coalition for Healthy School Food – Amie Hamlin

Wellness in the School – Deborah Soffell

American Farmland Trust – Stephanie Hsu

2:45 - 4:30: Breakout Discussions
Participants get an opportunity to dive into topic areas more deeply and connect with resource experts in 3-rounds of 30-minute facilitated table talks. Discussion will include: What barriers have you encountered? What’s working? What opportunities do you see? What resources are currently available that your peers should know about? What do you need that you don’t have in order to move forward?
Facilitated by Jen Dalton

Breakout Discussion Topics include:

Fostering Leadership Opportunities, Skill-building and Staff Training

Facilitators: Stefanie Heath, Food & Nutrition Specialist with Food Forward and Deborah Soffel, Program Manager for Wellness in the Schools

Food Waste

Facilitators: Stephen O’Brien, Director of Strategic Partnerships, New York City Department of Education Office of School Food and Elizabeth Vaughn, Senior Campaigner for Friends of the Earth

Farm to Institution

Facilitators: Stephanie Hsu, Farm to Institution New York Manager for American Farmland Trust, and Tish Food Center

Student Engagement, Taste Tests & Recipe Development

Facilitators: Emily Gallivan, Programs Director of the Chef Ann Foundation and Joy Lehman, Campaign and Communications Manager at Meatless Monday

Working with the Community

Facilitators: April Liles, Food Service Director for Waltham Public Schools and Renee Saldana, Engagement Manager for One Meal a Day for the Planet

Institutional Commitments for Long-term Change

Facilitators: Rebekah Williams, Good Food Buffalo Coalition Campaign Lead and Ribka Getachew, Director of NYC Good Food Purchasing Campaign

Nutrition Ed from Classroom to Cafeteria

Facilitators: Claire Raffel, Deputy Director of the Tisch Food Center, Teachers College, Columbia University and Amie Hamlin, Executive Director of New York Coalition for Healthy School Food

Policy Change to Scale-Up Climate Friendly Food at District, State and Federal Levels

Facilitators: Maggie Neola, R.D., L.D.,staff dietitian for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Barnard Medical Center and Chloe Waterman, Senior Food Campaigner, Friends of the Earth

4:30 - 5:00: Share Out & Closing
Facilitated by Jen Dalton

HOW: Please contact Jen Dalton if you need a discount on the registration fee in order to attend or if you need to pay by Purchase Order:

CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDIT: If you attend the full day, you will earn you 7 CEUS through the National SNA! Nutrition, Operations and Administration topic areas

HOTEL INFO: We have reserved a room rate of $129 for those of you that need to stay the night. Please click on the link below to reserve your room.

WHAT: Let’s talk about school food that’s healthy AND climate-friendly.

Leading foodservice directors from Northeastern school districts will share successful strategies for making shifts toward climate-friendly, plant-forward menus and waste reduction in their cafeterias. National and regional nonprofits will discuss resources and map out strategies and policy reforms that are needed for scaling up climate-friendly school food. Forum participants will share their experiences, gain valuable information and cultivate new relationships in several roundtable discussions. This forum will build on existing local and regional efforts to provide students with innovative nutrition education and make school meals healthier, local and more sustainable.

WHY: With more than $16 billion in taxpayer funds invested and seven billion meals served annually by K-12 schools, shifting menus toward more plant-forward options and increasing sourcing from local, organic farms is a powerful lever for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other harmful impacts of industrial food, while generating major health benefits and leading towards a generational shift in food awareness and consumption habits.

WHO: Key stakeholders in K-12 foodservice: Foodservice directors, nutrition services directors and staff, foodservice operators, sustainability coordinators, parents, students, policy makers and non-profits working on healthy and sustainable food solutions. (CE credit will be offered for attendance. Details to come.)

THANKS to OUR CO-SPONSORS: University at Albany Green Scene, Chef Ann Foundation, Coalition for Healthy School Food, Forward Food, Meatless Mondays, One Meal a Day for the Planet, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, VegFund


The first two forums were held in the Northwest (2017) and Southern California (2018) and attracted over 100 people each within 200-miles of each location for a deep dive into the most successful strategies for implementing healthy, climate-friendly school food. You can view presentations and see videos from the Southern California Greening School Food Forum here.

These forums are a part of a growing trend to put more plant-forward food on school menus across the country. Friends of the Earth recently released a report entitled “Scaling-Up Climate-Friendly School Food: Strategies for Successthat spotlights this growing movement of pioneering school districts using their massive purchasing power to provide plant-forward, climate-friendly food that is healthier for students and the planet, and cost-effective. The report, which is based on interviews with over 30 districts, shows how just one recipe shift can make a huge impact. For example, Lee County Public Schools in Florida reduced its carbon emissions footprint by 2.3 million pounds simply by replacing a pasta beef dish with a soy-based tomato sauce recipe just eight times a year. Over a two-year period, this one recipe swap had the same environmental impact as not burning 1.2 million pounds of coal or 120,000 gallons of gas!

Friends of the Earth also conducted research with Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), published in a groundbreaking report “Shrinking the Carbon and Water Footprint of School Food: A Recipe for Combatting Climate Change.” This pilot showed that over a two-year period, OUSD reshaped it’s menu with fewer animal foods and more protein-rich legumes and vegetables resulting in saving over 42 million gallons of water, a 14% reduction in the carbon footprint of its purchases, and a cost-savings of $42,000.

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University at Albany Campus Center

1400 Washington Avenue


Albany, NY 12206

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