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School Lunches Made Healthy, Safe and Easy by the Oregon Environmental Council

New Eco-Healthy Lunch Box Kit helps reduce kids’ exposures to toxins, increases amount of healthy, local and tasty foods in school diets

Aug 25, 2008

PORTLAND, Ore.—Aug. 25, 2008—Just in time for the back-to-school rush, the Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) is pleased to introduce the Eco-Healthy Lunch Box Kit. This kit is designed to help kids eat healthy, local and organic foods while reducing their exposure to toxins from products we all use every day. The kit includes practical tools for a youngster's healthy lunch as well as educational materials, recipes and guidelines for grown-ups.

“It’s our hope that this lunch box can serve as a guide to making healthy consumer decisions and an example of why we need to address these loopholes in our consumer-safety system,” said Renee Hackenmiller-Paradis, MPH., Ph.D., program director at the Oregon Environmental Council. “Unfortunately, there are still few laws regulating known harmful chemicals found in products we use every day. We need to be proactive in protecting our most vulnerable citizens, our children, from exposure. This is an easy way to educate both parents and students how to do just that.”

The Eco-Healthy Lunch Box Kit includes the following items:

  • A stainless steel lunch box: Many lunch boxes today are made with vinyl. Vinyl is a plastic that releases potentially harmful chemicals throughout its life cycle. During production of vinyl, carcinogenic dioxins are released. Vinyl also incorporates plasticizers called phthalates. Phthalates mimic hormones when they get into the human body and have been linked to a number of undesired health outcomes ranging from early onset of puberty and breast cancer to decreased sperm counts. On Aug. 14, 2008, President Bush signed a federal bill banning six toxic phthalates from children's products. This stainless steel lunch box is a safe, toxic-free container for children’s food.
  • A Klean Kanteen® beverage container: Many common beverage containers contain bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA mimics estrogen in human bodies after being ingested. BPA has been linked to reduced fertility, breast cancer, prostate cancer and obesity. Klean Kanteens® are BPA-free and reusable. This helps reduce waste created from single-use beverage containers and reduces exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.
  • Spudware® biodegradable, compostable, and re-useable utensils: Unlike regular plastic utensils, these potato-based utensils break down in the environment over time rather than existing for centuries after they are disposed of.
  • A re-useable sandwich wrap: Designed with a safer plastic (low density polyethylene or LDPE) and kid-friendly cloth, these re-useable sandwich wraps are far better than single-use disposal plastic bags. Plastic bags are petroleum-based products that release potentially harmful chemicals during their production, clog up our waste disposal systems, and persist in our ecosystems.
  • Environmentally (and kid)-friendly stickers: These Oregon-themed stickers help teach children about Oregon’s natural resources. They are designed to be cut out and organized on the outside of the lunch box, giving each child the opportunity to create a uniquely personalized Eco-Healthy Lunch Box.
  • Healthy lunch recipe guide: In partnership with New Season’s MarketTM, the kit comes with eight healthy, delicious, and easy-to-make lunch box recipes – keeping the food in the lunchbox nutritious and fun.
  • Also included: a seasonal buying guide and organic purchasing guide, refrigerator magnets to help with local, seasonal produce purchasing; OEC’s “Safer Plastics Guide” and “Green Cleaning Wallet Guide.”

The Eco-Healthy Lunch Box Kit is available for purchase online at www.oeconline.org/eco-healthy or by calling Jason Menke at 503-222-1963 ext. 113. The kits are $25 each. All proceeds go toward the cost of the kit. OEC has donated 100 of these kits to low-income elementary school children in the Portland area. Development of the kit was made possible by project sponsors Kellogg Foundation, Spirit Mountain Community Fund and New Season’s Market TM.

About the Oregon Environmental Council
The Oregon Environmental Council safeguards what Oregonians love about Oregon – clean air and water, an unpolluted landscape and healthy food produced by local farmers. For 40 years, we’ve been a champion for solutions to protect the health of every Oregonian and the health of the place we call home. Our vision for Oregon includes solving global warming, protecting kids from toxins, cleaning up our rivers, building sustainable economies, and ensuring healthy food and local farms. Find out more at www.oeconline.org.

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