Climate-Efficient School Kitchens and Plant-Powered Pupils | Germany

One of the most powerful solutions to addressing climate change lies in the food we eat. Reaching out to young people may well be the most sustainable way of doing that. That is why ProVeg International and IZT  have launched two respective interventions.

First, together with the German health insurance provider BKK ProVita, ProVeg launched Aktion Pflanzen-Power (Plant-Powered Pupils) to educate and empower children to make healthier food choices.

Second, KEEKS (Climate Efficient School Canteens), initiated and managed by IZT (Institute for Future Studies and Technology Assessment), formed a joint project with ProVeg, ifeu, Wuppertal Institut, Netzwerk e.V., Faktor 10, funded by BMU (German Federal Ministry for the Environment) as part of the National Climate Initiative. KEEKS has analyzed and quantified 22 different measures (e.g. food, investments, behavior of kitchen personnel, and waste) that could reduce greenhouse gases. Through their "Measures-Map", KEEKS trains kitchen staff, trainee chefs, and caterers in ways to prepare sustainable, low-cost, healthy meals in public schools. This includes not only the use of energy-saving kitchen appliances, but also the use of ingredients like plant-based, low-carbon-footprint alternatives to meat.

Both projects aim to scale up the availability of healthy and climate-friendly food options in German schools and beyond

Key facts

  • Over 23,000 students from 36 schools across Germany have been reached through Aktion Pflanzen-Power. KEEKS has presented the idea of climate efficient schools in 120 vocational trainings, schools, and nutrition events.
  • KEEKS has shown that 40% of greenhouse gases could be saved by reducing climate inefficient food and waste and promoting energy efficient behavior in kitchens and investments in energy saving technology.
  • 140,000 students were offered a plant-based school lunch for a week in cooperation with catering company Sodexo;
  • 12,500 kitchen staff have been reached through training programmes;
  • If 23,000 children continue to choose plant-based lunches (even only once a week on average for a year), it represents a potential 1,076,400 kg reduction in their combined carbon footprint.

The problem

When it comes to food, the highest carbon footprint comes from the meat industry. In addition, overconsumption of meat is a public health risk, and processed meat was classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a Group 1 carcinogen alongside tobacco and alcohol.

The global food system represents up to 30% of the world's carbon footprint, half of which is from meat production and animal agriculture alone. This represents 14.5% of global carbon emissions, surpassing the entire global transport sector - all the cars, trucks, trains, ships, and planes combined.