Redwood City, California-based Impossible Foods has secured Child Nutrition Labels for its Impossible Burger products, clearing a hurdle towards widely entering the school market this fall.
CN Labels are voluntary food crediting statements authorized by the USDA that make it easier for schools participating in federal Child Nutrition Programs, including the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, to determine how much a particular food contributes to federal meal pattern requirements for nutritionally balanced meals for children each school day.
The program is run by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), which must evaluate a product’s formulation to determine how much it contributes to federal meal pattern requirements. The submission process not only includes evaluation of a product’s formulation, but also inspection and evaluation of quality control procedures and manufacturing operations. FNS determined that Impossible Burger products met the quality control program requirements and approved Impossible Foods’ CN labels in the Alternate Protein category in April 2021.
“Making Impossible products available everywhere people consume meat, which for kids often includes schools, is key to the mission of the company,” said Pat Brown, CEO and founder of Impossible Foods. “Schools not only play a role in shaping children’s dietary patterns, they play an important role in providing early education about climate change and its root causes. We are thrilled to be partnering with K-12 school districts across the country to lower barriers to access our plant-based meat for this change-making generation.”
K-12 Pilot Program
With CN Labels secured, Impossible Foods is kicking off K-12 pilot programs this month with school districts across the U.S., including: Palo Alto Unified School District, Palo Alto, California; Aberdeen School District, Aberdeen, Washington; Deer Creek Public Schools, Edmond, Oklahoma; and Union City Public Schools, Union City, Oklahoma.
Participating schools are putting the product in dishes ranging from Impossible Street Tacos to, “Impossible Frito Pie”, to Spaghetti with Impossible Meat Sauce. School district pilot participants also surveyed the kids after debuting the Impossible items to understand whether offering Impossible products at lunchtime will have a positive effect on school lunch program participation rates next fall, when schools across the country will be returning to a “new normal.”
“Increasing plant-based menu options is a key part of our strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 34 percent by 2025,” said Michael Morris, senior manager, culinary offer implementation of Sodexo, one of the nation’s largest food service contractors. “The Impossible Burger is a product we think teenagers are going to get excited about. We are interested in how the popularity of this low-carbon food can help effectively lower a whole district’s carbon footprint, while also getting students more engaged in thinking about their connection to the planet.”
In Aberdeen Washington, Superintendent Alicia Henderson served Impossible Meat Sauce on spaghetti and burgers to middle and high school students as part of a pilot, and said, “Early pilot results show a strong response and engagement from both students and teachers. We are excited to be one of the first districts in the country to offer students this product as an alternative to beef.”
The CN labeled Impossible products, Impossible Burger patties and five pound bulk Impossible Burger, are readily available through foodservice broad-line distributors nationally, making it possible for districts to add the Impossible Burger to their menus now, for summer programs and for the 2021/22 school year. Interested school districts can email [email protected] to receive more information about adding the Impossible Burger to their district menu.
To support the Child Nutrition Label launch, Impossible Foods surveyed 1,200 K-12 aged kids across the U.S. to assess their understanding of the connection between what they eat and climate change. In the survey, “Kids Rule: What kids know about climate change and why they are key to the fight against it,” the results showed the importance to the next generation of the shift to a sustainable food system, and that education is key to driving change.
- Climate change is an issue that a vast majority of kids are aware of (four in five kids surveyed stated they were “somewhat to extremely familiar” with climate change);
- The data found that 62 percent of kids surveyed reported that they learn about climate change from their teachers/school;
- Kids are more than just aware of climate change, they feel they can and should put a stop to it; and
- More than seven in ten kids feel that they have the power to make a difference in the battle against climate change, and nearly 90 percent say it’s important to them that they do so.
However, even despite the overwhelming interest in climate change, nearly all kids (97 percent) still eat meat every week, and only half of kids surveyed reported that “raising animals for meat and dairy” contributed “somewhat to a lot” to climate change.
Once informed, however, on the connection between animal agriculture and climate change, 78 percent of kids, a significant 16 percent increase, reported the importance of taking action to reduce the use of cows as a food source to help stop climate change. Additionally, 63 percent of kids said they were more likely to eat less meat after reading about animal agricultural impact. The report, in its entirety, can be downloaded here.
“Kids provide an enormous and largely unexplored opportunity for environmental progress,” said Jessica Appelgren, VP of communications at Impossible Foods. “They care about climate change and they want to do something about it, and data shows that they have a significant influence over family meal decisions. Our CN Label launch is just the beginning of Impossible Foods engaging this next crucial generation.”
Already considered a leading environmental startup, Impossible Foods’ mission is to help solve the planet’s climate and extinction crises. The company is helping to turn back the clock on global warming and restore biodiversity by making the global food system sustainable.
On the road towards a truly sustainable food system, the company continues to work towards a more equitable food system as well – with a focus on increasing access to nutritious proteins in youth communities specifically, through the school system and beyond. Last year, Impossible Foods launched “Impossible: The Cookbook” with proceeds benefiting No Kid Hungry. The company also teamed up with youth-led Intersectional Environmentalist to feed Los Angeles communities in need, and drive awareness around the disproportionate effect of food insecurity on BIPOC communities overall.