Students worldwide are awaking. They are marching, striking, speaking. They know humanity is in peril, and some are starting to act to save themselves from pending disasters. Greta Thunberg from Sweden, speaking at world conferences and encouraging school strikes in Europe. Students leaving school, marching and shouting “Save our Planet!” In the US students from Oregon are suing the US government, students in California confronting Senator Feinstein. They understand; why go to school when they have no future
They realize the urgency. Michael Soule, UC Santa Cruz professor emeritus of environmental studies, is one of many who have predicted that our planet will be unlivable for our children and grandchildren by the end of this century, in other words, in 82 years. Regardless of the causes of climate change, we earth residents, especially the young, have to deal with the biggest threat to our survival. To paraphrase Einstein: “You cannot solve a problem (Climate Change) from the same consciousness that created it.” The youth sense this and are striking out in ways that are available to them. Climate Clubs are another way.
Once club members understand the scientific causes and consequences of climate change, they could focus upon the most serious environmental problems of their own bioregions that will affect them directly and then take action that will have positive impacts on their lives and communities. The members will learn how to make the social, economic and political changes necessary to make up for decades of ignorance and inaction. Club activity will provide opportunities to learn personal and social skills of decision making, critical thinking, leadership, public speaking,
Starting School Climate Clubs will take a partnership between concerned and informed parents, teachers, school administrators and youth leaders. Science teachers are the obvious sponsors of Climate Clubs. One advantage of school clubs is that they will likely be easier and quicker to form than adding to or changing the school curriculum. Another advantage is that clubs would allow students to come together, supporting each other to become change agents for their own communities.
Think of the huge progress that could be made in dealing with climate change if every elementary school, high school and college had active Climate Clubs. They could be models for the rest of us to make headway in this most difficult urgent crisis. Local communities could form Climate Cooperatives to prepare for how climate change will affect them. What better place than schools for starting a worldwide effort to save our planet for future generations?
For years I’ve known that my generation caused most of the worldwide destructive activities that have led us to the brink of an environmental disaster, but I didn’t know to express it until an 11 year old girl said, ”You should repair as much as you can. And then you should teach young people what happened so it doesn’t happen again. And you need to say sorry.” (Isa Moore-Backman in YES!magazine, No 83, Fall 2017)
If you think School Climate Clubs are a viable idea, talk to your kids, neighbors, teachers about how to channel the outrage of the students into positive action.
Wayne Kessler, Mount Shasta, California
The Value of Good School Food
School food is the most neglected part of our kids’ education. On one hand, it provides food to many students who come to school hungry. Siskiyou County has the second highest percentage of food insecure kids in California (Kidsdata.org). But on the other hand, most schools are providing the cheapest heat-and-serve fast food possible. The high-calorie meals are very high in sugar and carbs with very few fresh vegetables and fruits, and consequently, are low in nutrients.
School food can be generally characterized by a menu which
Like you, I am very interested in our students getting good grades, behaving well in class and in winning at sports. Schools could improve student performance by increasing the nutrition in breakfasts and lunches. Scientific studies have linked increases in student health and performance with nutritious school meals.
Now, what is good school food? Genuine nutritionists (not from the food processing industry) agree that school food needs to be high in vitamins and minerals found in unprocessed meats and in fresh fruits and vegetables, and much lower in carbs and sugar. In addition to improvement in health, as studies have shown, nutritious school food results in significant improvement in physical development, cognition (e.g. memory and concentration), and behavior. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 9, 2008.
Serving more fresh food, as in salad bars, benefits not only student health but also the financial bottom line of meal programs. In schools with salad bars studied by the Pew Charitable Trusts, 54% saw an increase of total revenue in the 2014-15 school year, compared with the previous year. And 30% saw revenue hold steady. Close to home at Dunsmuir High School, where about 100% of the students choose to eat tasty meals while selecting fresh fruit and vegetables from a salad bar, the food program has a surplus of about $10,000. However, schools without salad bars often struggle with costs and waste. Currently, Mount Shasta Unified School District pays over $60,000 out of its general fund to cover the food program because over 60% of the kids don’t eat the school food. These results show that better nutrition and financial stability can go hand-in-hand.
What can we do to improve school meals? First, learn about the problems and current standards for school food. YouTube’s TED talks on school food are eye openers. Second, contact local groups such as the Siskiyou County Food Access Network within Great Northern Services www.gnservices.org or School CAFE in Mount Shasta www.schoolcafeclub.org that are concerned with food insecurity and the nutritional quality of school food.
Wayne Kessler: A fresh food advocate and lifelong grower of food,
agricultural enterprise developer, organic nursery owner, garden workshop presenter