Vegan Fridays will begin this Friday at all New York City public schools. Fridays at NYC public schools will feature plant-based alternatives such as bagels and jelly, vegetable tacos, Mediterranean spaghetti, black bean, and plantain rice bowls, and more as part of the new effort. The 930,000 students who attend NYC public schools will be able to eat these meals for free.
Following the acceptance of Meatless Mondays by all 1,700 public schools in NYC in 2019, the Vegan Friday’s project was launched. On Mondays, then-mayor Bill de Blasio and then-Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams—who was elected as NYC’s first vegan mayor last year—made the decision to provide vegetarian lunches to children. After assisting in the implementation of Meatless Mondays in NYC schools, Adams is now assisting in the implementation of Meatless Fridays in 2021.
Vegan Fridays will be phased in in NYC public schools, with non-vegan choices provided for pupils upon request. Dairy milk will continue to be available due to federal regulations.
Plant-Based School Lunches In NYC
Adams turned vegan in 2016, and a plant-based diet helped him overcome health difficulties, including severe type 2 diabetic symptoms. Adams spearheaded the $400,000 Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program in the NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue medical system, which focused on providing whole-food, plant-based nutrition and lifestyle counseling to critically ill patients. As Brooklyn Borough President, Adams implemented several initiatives to help New Yorkers embrace plant-based eating for better health, including spearheading the $400,000 Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program in the NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue medical system, which focused on providing whole-food, plant-based nutrition
Prior to winning the mayoral election last year, Adams approved a $10,000 discretionary grant to fund the Food As Medicine Initiative at the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate College of Medicine, a plant-based nutrition teaching program.
Adams has been on a quest to make school meals healthy and free of dangerous items like processed meats. To that purpose, Adams championed Resolution 238, which instructed the Department of Education to eliminate processed meats like bologna, pepperoni, and hot dogs from all public school meals in the city. The resolution was passed by the NYC Council in October of this year.
Adams is now putting his whole support behind the Vegan Fridays program, which he regards as a significant step forward for his constituents’ children. “Plant-based options in schools means healthy eating and healthy living, and improving the quality of life for thousands of New York City students,” Adams stated.
The Barrier of Vegan Schools
The National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, a USDA rule enshrouded in dairy industry lobbying, mandate that schools distribute fluid dairy milk. Participants in the program “cannot discriminate against the drinking of cow’s milk before school, after school, on school grounds, or at any school-sponsored event.” according to federal laws. Despite the fact that many children, particularly those of race, are lactose intolerant, the rule is based on assertions that dairy is nutritionally necessary for them.
This milk requirement not only discriminates against children of race, but it also makes it difficult to run totally vegan schools in the United States. In 2019, King Charter School in Florida attempted to become the first public school in the US to serve a 100% vegan meal and curriculum. The school’s eligibility for meal reimbursements under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs was one stumbling point. While refusing the reimbursement is an option, it puts the school at a significant financial disadvantage when compared to institutions who accept to provide dairy milk.
Source: “NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS NOW SERVE VEGAN MEALS TO 930,000 STUDENTS EVERY FRIDAY” by VegNews