An Environmental and Nutritional Evaluation of School Food Menus in Bahia, Brazil That Contribute to Local Public Policy to Promote Sustainability

Nutrients. 2022 Apr 6;14(7):1519. doi: 10.3390/nu14071519.


Aimed at improving the quality of school meals, the Sustainable School Program (SSP) implemented low-carbon meals, twice a week, in 155 schools of 4 municipalities, reaching more than 32,000 students. This study evaluated the environmental impact and nutritional viability of this intervention for this population. The 15 most repeated meals from the conventional and sustainable menus were selected, and we considered the school age group and number of meals served per student/day. Nutritional information was calculated using validated food composition tables, nutritional adequacy was assessed using National School Feeding Program (PNAE) requirements, the level of processing was considered using NOVA classification, and greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) were estimated using food life cycle assessment (LCA) validated data. We found both conventional and sustainable food menus are equivalent, in terms of nutrients, except for calcium, iron, and magnesium. Sustainable food menus were cholesterol-free. However, there was a reduction of up to 17% in GHGE, depending on the school age group analysed. Considering the greater energy efficiency and lower environmental impact of these food menus, the SSP, therefore, demonstrates that a substantial reduction in climate impact is feasible, successful, and can be an inspiration to other regions globally.

Keywords: GHGE; children health; climate change; diet quality; food provision; healthy citizen; nutrition; plant-based diets; public school meals; sustainable school program.

MeSH terms

  • Brazil
  • Diet
  • Environment
  • Food Services*
  • Greenhouse Gases*
  • Humans
  • Meals
  • Public Policy
  • Schools


  • Greenhouse Gases