When it comes to the carbon footprint of schools, what food you’re serving can make a big impact.

Food accounts for up to 30% of all global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Different foods vary in their production systems, harvesting, storage, packaging and modes of transportation. The result is that certain foods emit substantially more carbon than others.

Often we hear that sourcing food locally is the key to sustainability when it comes to catering. However, this oversimplification is not the case for most foods. The impact of transport, with the clear exception of airfreight, is actually often minimal.

You might be surprised to learn that for beef, the majority of CO2 emissions stem from the farm stage – transport only accounts for 2% of beef’s carbon footprint. Therefore, as is the case for many foods, reducing ‘food miles’ will have a minimal impact on reducing emissions. Likewise, UK produce grown out of season in hothouses can actually be as bad as airfreighted produce, emitting significantly more carbon than produce imported from overseas, grown in season and outdoors.

  • 1kg Beef emits the equivalent of 60kg of carbon dioxide
  • 1kg lamb emits the equivalent of 24kg of carbon dioxide
  • 1kg Pork emits the equivalent of 7kg of carbon dioxide
  • 1kg chicken emits the equivalent of 6kg of carbon dioxide
  • 1kg of bananas from the Caribbean emits 700g of carbon dioxide
  • 1kg of root vegetables is equivalent of 400g of carbon dioxide, 150 times less carbon-intensive than beef.

Clearly, the emphasis needs to be on what food is being eaten, not just where it comes from and as such allmanhall are implementing a carbon impact assessment tool to help school catering teams quantify precisely how much CO2 sites within their pupils’ meals.

Here are just a few things your school can be doing:

We need to act with urgency. The most complex challenges will involve tackling the environmental impacts of our supply chains.

It is best to face this challenge early, as it moves from a nice to have to a need to have with impending legislation…

allmanhall look forward to providing an update on the Department for Education’s strategy when it is released this spring. In the meantime, why not take a look at our review of the draft release.

For this and more, take a look at https://allmanhall.co.uk

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