August 19, 2011
Last school year, nearly 49.4 million students attended public elementary and secondary schools. That is an overwhelming number of families that could make a real difference in creating healthy schools for our children. There are a lot of choices that individuals can make to go green in their daily lives, including how they send their children to school and what they send with them, but when like-minded individuals get involved in an effort to make their schools better there is change.
One way to get started is through the parent/teacher organization at your neighborhood school. These organizations have great influence over how schools function, the relationship between the school and families, and make decisions that can affect the entire school. It only takes one advocate to spark a movement.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.” ~Margaret Mead
There are several national organizations that are devoted to creating cleaner and healthy school environments for the children in this country. The Healthy Schools Campaign and Green Schools Initiative are incredible resources for parent organizations to make their child’s school a little greener. Both organizations provide the steps and the tools to take the small steps necessary for a safer, healthier, more eco-friendly school.
There are three main issues that parent/teacher organizations can change to create a better world for their children:
The events that parent/teacher organizations are designed to bring the school community closer together. They also tend to create a lot of waste. As much as the kids like to come home with a lot of trinkets and candy, most parents would be happy to do away with the stuff that comes home from these family fun events.
As hard as it may be, moving away from using disposable products for food, snacks, and crafts, would have such an enormous impact. Think of what values our children would be learning by example?
Fundraisers have become inevitable for public schools, but they don’t have to be full of useless junk that no one really wants anyway. Fundraisers can be effective and they can also be eco-friendly. Utilize local businesses, recycling programs for cash, or other eco-friendly fundraising companies like Greenraising, Equal Exchange, or Flower Power.
School lunches as they are now are not good for our children. A non-profit organization of retired military leaders even believe that our school lunches are a threat to national security because of the linked rise in obesity. The National School Lunch Program serves approximately 8 million breakfasts and 28 million lunches each day. Unfortunately for the children served these meals, they are not receiving healthy, nutritious meals.
The Healthy School Lunch Campaign, sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), is one organization working to improve school lunches by educating government and school officials, food service workers, parents, and others about the food choices best able to promote children’s current and long-term health.
There are schools that see the need and have the motivation to change their school’s lunch program. Using the resources from the Healthy School Lunch Campaign, any parent group can too.
The bottom line is that parent groups have influence. Use that influence to create healthier schools for all children. Find the passion that ignites a movement in your community.