Vegetarians are doing their part during the COVID 19 pandemic. Volunteers from Community Solidarity — the country’s largest all-vegetarian hunger relief food program — distributed tens of thousands of pounds of groceries in Hempstead, New York, recently as part of its growing effort to help people in need. Several other regions in New York were also served.
Organizers with the nonprofit said they have watched demand skyrocket as more families face issues of hunger and food insecurity, due to the economic fallout from COVID-19. “We have never seen this before,” said Jon Stepanian, chief executive at Community Solidarity. “Some of the families are in tears when they come to us.” While the nonprofit has been providing food relief for years, organizers are now reaching thousands more families. The organization used to serve 3,000 families directly and is now serving 10,000, Stepanian said.
In normal times, Community Solidarity assists thousands of families each week by sharing free nutritious vegetarian groceries and hot gourmet vegan meals. These plant-based foods are healthier than anything offered by mainstream food banks. They’re also more compassionate and more sustainable. Their cruelty-free mission is simple. By promoting a vegan diet, and sharing vegetarian groceries, they save animals. By empowering communities, and ending hunger, they help people.
Another public school in New York City just went all vegetarian – and this time it was the kids who asked for it. This is the third New York City public school to go all veg. The school’s principal, Arlene Ramos, revealed that students asked for healthier, meatless options and that she is proud to be able to introduce the new menu. “My students have expressed an interest in healthier eating, and the school gave them the option to choose this menu I am very proud of their decision.” Lentil sloppy Joes, pasta fagioli, Mexicali chili, braised black beans with plantains, and teriyaki crunchy tofu will now be the lunch options for the 1,250 pre-K through 5th graders at Public School 1, Bergen Elementary School.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams—who adopted a vegan diet last October to conquer his type 2 diabetes—supports the menu update. “It is particularly exciting to learn that this is a youth-driven initiative,” Adams said. The drive for all New York City public schools to go all veg is a campaign of New York Coalition for Healthy School Food headed by Amy Hamlin. We’ve previously written about the other schools that have gone all veg.
For years we have heard every excuse from many of Washington’s public schools. But, if a city as big and diverse as New York can do it, we’re sure Seattle can as well. Let’s hope New York City will set an example for Seattle and other cities to follow.
Here’s something to cheer about. The second public school in history has just gone all vegetarian. PS (Public School) 342 in New York City has recently announced the move, only 18 months after the first public school, PS 244 became the first ever public school go all-vegetarian.
Principal Maggie Siena said in a statement, “We decided to implement the vegetarian menu because of the health benefits of a diet including more legumes, vegetables and whole grains and our concerns about the environmental impact of meat production. As it turns out, the vegetarian dishes are pretty delicious, too — we are seeing more kids trying and liking chickpeas, brown rice and whole wheat pasta — kale salad was a huge hit.”
The implementation of the vegetarian menu was done with the help of the Coalition for Healthy School Food, a non profit dedicated to getting whole plant foods into schools across the New York City area. Congratulations go to Amie Hamlin, their executive director, for helping this through. They were behind the first school going all vegetarian and now they’ve done it again. Amie says, “they get more fiber, they get less cholesterol, less saturated fat and more of the healthy fighter nutrients that come from plants.”
Parents and kids alike seem happy with the change in both schools. When the first school went all vegetarian, their principal reported that improved test scores and longer attention spans by its students happened within nine months.
At two public schools in New York City, the closest thing to mystery meat one will find on the lunch tray is tofu. Seattle, your turn next!
Thomas Farley, city health commissioner, holds up one of the coupons that doctors can “prescribe” to encourage patients to eat more fruits and vegetables.
It’s no secret that most Americans do not eat nearly enough fruits and vegetables. This problem is especially acute in lower income groups. The growing obesity problem is also no secret, with one third of Americans now qualifying as overweight and another one third as obese. It’s here, as with other health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, that plant foods form a very powerful part of the solution. In fact, vegetarians have a 45% decreased risk of being overweight or obese, and vegans are, on average, 30 pounds thinner than meat eaters with a rather desirable BMI of only about 23. This dietary advantage is especially true of those consuming unprocessed plant foods and produce to be found at farmers’ markets. Read more