Tag Archives: school lunch

California allocates $100 million for plant-based lunches in schools

Here’s a great investment. California just approved a $700 million investment for public schools to improve cafeteria food service infrastructure with $100 million dedicated to expanding the plant-based and sustainable food offerings with the help of Impossible Foods, which just launched two new meatless options specifically for students. The additional $600 million will be allocated to compensating workers, increasing food budgets, and upgrading kitchen appliances. Participating public schools will receive reimbursement funding for their efforts in expanding the plant-based and sustainable food offerings.

California will become the first state to invest public funds into a plant-based meal program. The budget will allow schools to better cater to plant-based students as well as adapt to other dietary restrictions. This program will give students an opportunity to learn about healthier eating at a younger age.

Soon after California passed this investment, Impossible Foods announced that it would launch new selections developed for school lunch menus. The food tech brand – which acquired Child Nutrition [CN] certification last year for the Impossible Burger and Sausage – unveiled a fully cooked Impossible Burger Patty that can be easily reheated by standard cafeteria kitchen appliances. The kid-friendly patty promises a completely balanced nutritional profile and earned a CN label from the US Department of Agriculture.

In addition, the brand will provide new whole grain Impossible Chicken Nuggets, slated to become available in by the end of 2022. The new plant-based nuggets will contain five more grams of fiber, 13 grams of protein per serving, and 40 percent less saturated fat than conventional chicken nuggets.

Before California’s statewide plant-based program was signed into law, several smaller-scale campaigns have helped bring plant-based meals to kids nationwide. This February, New York City public schools initiated the “Vegan Fridays” project to help introduce students to healthier, more eco-friendly meal options. Catering to all 1 million students in the NYC public school system, the new program led by vegan Mayor Eric Adams will help provide students with plant-based meals that would otherwise have low access to these foods.

Illinois requires plant-based school lunches

The state of Illinois has passed a bill (HB 4089) in both houses, that requires a school district to provide a plant-based school lunch option to those students who submit a prior request to the school district.  It now just awaits the governor’s signature.

“All students deserve the opportunity to have a well-rounded, nutritional meal at school that meets their dietary needs,” said sponsoring senator Dave Koehler, D-Peoria. “For some kids it may be the only substantial meal they get that day, and they need to be able to make the most of it.”

We’ve written before about the New York City school district requiring Meatless Mondays and now Vegan Fridays, championed by mayor Eric Adams. Some schools in the NYC district have gone even further by providing only vegetarian lunches every day of the week.

While we wish that school lunches were plant-based for all students, Illinois has taken a good first step, enabling those students who want to have a healthy and animal-free lunch to get one.  

Meatless Mondays in New York Schools

Children eat healthy school lunchNew York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week that starting next school year, all schools in the city will have vegetarian meals on Mondays.

According to the mayor, the Meatless Mondays program is aimed at improving student health and the city’s environmental impact, “We’re expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come.” the mayor said.

“Meatless Mondays” are good for the environment, said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. “Our 1.1 million students are taking the next step towards healthier, more sustainable lives.”

Food such as lentil Sloppy Joes, pasta fagioli, Mexicali chili, braised black beans with plantains, and teriyaki crunchy tofu will now be served in New York City’s public schools!

This progress comes on the heels of three New York City schools that have become completely all vegetarian every day of the week-and the kids love it. Parents have also become very supportive of the change as they see improvements in their children.

For years we’ve 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.