Environment, Development and Sustainability (2022).
Autores: Simon, X., Copena, D. & Pérez-Neira, D.
The role of policies and public school canteens as drivers of sustainable and healthy diets
is increasingly becoming the center of attention of academics and policy-makers alike.
This work therefore aims to assess the environmental, economic and nutritional qual-
ity dimensions of the menus consumed across the Local Network of School Canteens in
the municipality of Ames (Galicia, Spain). It additionally performs different scenarios to
evaluate the effects on the environment-cost-nutritional quality trilemma of implementing
two major dietary changes in these menus: introducing more organic products, and shift-
ing toward a more plant-based consumption pattern. To this end, this study considers the
following indicators: a) those obtained from an energy and carbon life cycle assessment of
the school menus (cradle-to-grave approach), mainly the cumulative energy demand (CED)
and the carbon footprint (CF), complemented by some energy efficiency indicators; b) the
total cost (TC) of the menus, obtained from their life cycle cost assessment (cradle-to-fork
approach); and c) the nutritional quality of the menus, calculated and assessed based on the
nutrient rich diet index (NRD 9.3). The CED, CF, TC, and NRD 9.3 index of a daily meal
at school canteens are, respectively, estimated at 18.87 MJ, 1.30 kg CO2 -eq, EUR 4.65,
and 278 per meal. The consumption of animal products and labor (for food preparation)
are identified, respectively, as the main environmental impact and economic cost of the
menus. The results of our research show how implementing changes in consumption habits
toward a more vegetarian diet in school menus makes it possible to include organic prod-
ucts to generate the most positive effects in terms of the environment and nutrition without incurring in cost overruns. Our work discusses the main barriers to be overcome and the
political actions that must be enforced to advance the procurement of more sustainable and
healthy public food.