Fixing School Lunches, One Meatless Meal at a Time

Have you seen a school lunch lately?

Go to any public school at lunchtime and take a look at the food our children are fed during the day. You’ll find processed meats, greasy pizza, half-full containers of milk, and perhaps a pile of peas here and there.

We all know that school lunches aren’t healthy. Jamie Oliver took it upon himself to try to fix the problem, but was met with incredible resistance and hasn’t made the impact he hoped. It’s what is starting to happen next, though, that we hope sparks a real revolution in school lunches.

Universities across the country are starting to change. Plant-based cafeterias are opening at colleges across America and changing the way college kids eat. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that college kids are demanding that they have meat-free options, and schools are obliging.

Our nation’s K-12 public schools are lagging terribly. The problem with primary education is that kids don’t have a say in what they are fed. It’s the parents, principals, school cooks, and the government officials who choose what our kids eat.

Their choices are killing our planet and hurting the long-term health of our children.

This isn’t just an issue about our kids having lunches that don’t taste good. It’s a problem that will contribute to an adulthood of bad eating habits and life-endangering diseases.

Meat-Free Mondays is an initiative spreading across the world and taking hold in American schools. The Humane Society of the United States has taken a leadership role, along with Meat-Free Monday, in helping schools adapt this largely symbolic change.

I say symbolic because, while cutting out meat is a good start, it isn’t enough to cure our problem of unhealthy school lunches.

We attended a Humane Society plant-based culinary training at Eastern Washington University and met Ken Botts, the man responsible for the nation’s first vegan café on a college campus. Now Mr. Botts travels the country helping other schools make the transition. He’s a leader in the effort to fix the broken food system, one plate at a time.

That’s where our public K-12 schools need to go, but the resistance by parents, principals, school cooks, food service providers, and government officials is fierce. The irony is that so many of the people who oppose meatless Mondays, or who believe it’s too difficult to cook without meat, have major health issues and weight problems.

That’s not who I want making food choices for my children.

That’s why we’re working so hard to help schools implement meat-free Mondays. Our children deserve to eat healthy, delicious food while learning about the impact of their food choices on animals and the planet as a whole.

Would you support meat-free Mondays at your child’s school? If so, contact us, tell us your child’s school, and we’ll get to work. 

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2 Replies to “Fixing School Lunches, One Meatless Meal at a Time”

  1. Hey, it’s not just on Mondays that kids are exposed to school lunches. And when cafeteria meals don’t provide plant-based, animal-free options (among other healthy choices), they are not only encouraging less healthy eating patterns in children, they are also — perhaps more importantly — telling children whose parents are raising them to thrive without animal products that their family values are wrong. Is that the sort of message schools should be teaching? The school lunch programs are getting better at reducing salt, sugar, and processed foods. How about also giving good vegetable main dish options/

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