On March 11th, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announced that New York City schools are adopting Meatless Mondays, bringing plant-based meals to all 1 million students in the nation’s largest school district. Mayor de Blasio cited the benefits of plant-based meals at a press conference the day of the announcement, mentioning that the city adopted the new policy to promote students’ health and protect the planet.
“Cutting back on meat a little will improve New Yorkers’ health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We’re expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come.”
By adopting Meatless Mondays, New York City adds to its impressive record as a leader in offering healthy school food. New York schools already offer daily plant-based options, and the district is home to The Active Learning Elementary School (TALES), which was the first all-vegetarian public school in the nation. Two additional New York schools have followed and now serve plant-powered menus packed with foods like crunchy tofu with sesame lo-mein noodles and pasta fagioli with roasted zucchini.
These schools are proving every day that students will embrace healthful meals and thrive on plant-based options. TALES principal Robert Groff joined the Physicians Committee on Capitol Hill to talk about his school’s transition to a plant-based menu, citing increased energy levels, attendance, and test scores since the switch. Nearly 80 percent of TALES students opt to participate in the vegetarian lunch program, and Principal Groff reports that some of his students are so enthusiastic about healthful options that they ask their parents for brown rice and broccoli at home!
New York City officials are also considering removing processed meat from school menus. Last month, the Physicians Committee’s Maggie Neola, R.D., joined Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Bronx Council Member Fernando Cabrera, local doctors, chefs, and parents at a hearing to talk about the health benefits of dropping processed meat. The video below covers that meeting and the issue of removing processed meats from New York City school menus.
Featured image: students eating school lunch. Image credit U.S. Department of Agriculture, CC BY-SA 3.0.