Teens Turning Green

Of course, whenever I hear of a mother-daughter team accomplishing something, I am all ears. Especially when they’re tackling big stuff like Judi Shils and Erin Schrode are. Mother-daughter team Judi and Erin founded Teens Turning Green in 2005 to educate local teens (and anyone else who would listen) about the harmful ingredients in cosmetics and personal-care items. Turns out, lots of teens were concerned about this issue and their campaign was a huge success. They realized their message was reaching far beyond cosmetics and into many other aspects of eco-responsible lifestyles. Teens Turning Green has an impressive resume: They developed a small collection of body- and skin-care products; launched a school platform to investigate the safety of the food, janitorial, and landscape products being used around children; developed an online toolkit called Project Green Prom to highlight ecological beauty, fashion, décor, and transportation options; and took on back-to-school with Project Green Dorm.

Project participants via teensturninggreen.org

The list is long, but the project that especially caught our eye here at the farm is the organization’s Conscious Kitchen Project, which is dedicated to a complete transformation of our nation’s school-lunch programs.

students via teensturninggreen.org

They launched a pilot program in Marin City, California, in August 2013 at a school in which 95% of the 150 students qualified for free- and reduced-meal programs. This provided a unique and significant demographic, as it was representative of so many underserved school children all around the country who are receiving processed, over-packaged meals that provide little nutrition. Teens Turning Green partnered with Executive Chef Justin Everett of Cavallo Point Lodge and Good Earth Natural Foods and raised enough money to transition this school kitchen from heat-and-serve to one where the head chef and his team cook 300 nutritious meals a day from scratch.

Chef Justin and students via teensturninggreen.org

This elementary school has seen a 70% decline in behavioral issues since the program began, as well as measured increases in attention span, on-time arrival, and overall attendance. And Chef Justin is inspiring some would-be chefs by offering mentoring in his kitchen on Friday nights. I love everything about this project. Nice work, Teens Turning Green!

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    School lunch programs are in great need of help everywhere. This is especially true in rural areas here in the South were many children live in poverty Amanda families lack education and resources to eating healthy. My best friend here in town, Kelli, is heading up a Farm to School, program that is funded with a new Federal grant and collaboration between the school board and the University of Florida IFAS department. This is the second year and now children are receiving fresh salad ingredients and seasonal fruits from local sourced farmer so. They also have a huge school greenhouse where students are growing lettuce for the experience of growing and also contributing to the salad bar option now in every school cafeteria in the city.

    It is a huge job getting such a program coordinated but the efforts are worth it and students , who work at the greenhouse are very excited and great ambassadors for healthier eating. I hope more states will learn from the successes of groups like California and Florida to teach our children about sustainable food growing and healthier living.

  2. Very impressive! the whole toxic chemicals in cosmetics thing is very real and most of the ingredients used in USA cosmetics are not allowed in the EU at all. The changeover at this school in behavior alone makes this so worthwhile to show how processed and non-nutritive foods have caused so many problems for today’s school age children.

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