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New paper proposes large-scale shift in school meals to tackle sustainability challenges

The article highlights the multisectoral impact of the school meal system on health, environment, economy, community welfare, and social protection domains.

A recent article by the Sustainmeals – Sustainable School Meals team advances that a reform of the current school meal system to increase plant-based eating will have important health and environmental consequences. The systemic impact of this transition may extend to economic, social protection, and community welfare domains. The paper introduces the Systemic Regeneration Wheel as a conceptual framework for informing sustainable food transitions in schools.

“School meals have a massive global impact if we consider that about 370 million children receive at least one school meal every day” – explains João Graça, one of the authors of the study. The paper used a narrative review to identify the opportunities and implications of a transition toward more sustainable eating patterns through increased plant-based eating. “Our main goals were to encourage transdisciplinary dialogue and design a conceptual framework for systemic change. With that, we hope to inform future programs, interventions, and policy-making that wish to take advantage of the potential of plant-based eating for building a more sustainable school meal system.” – says the author.

The article published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Research highlights the multisectoral impact of school meals, not only for health and sustainability, but also for economy, social protection, and community welfare domains. This synergistic perspective on the school meal system is best depicted by the Systemic Regeneration Wheel, a conceptual framework that reinforces dialogue among relevant stakeholders and the mobilization of multiple sectors of society as relevant steps for addressing the current need for a sustainable food transition.

The full paper is freely available at


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