No meat on the menu at this elementary school
May 2nd, 2013
01:45 PM ET
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Asked which school meals were their favorites, students at a public school in the New York borough of Queens don't say chicken fingers or meatballs. Instead, they name rice and kidney beans, black bean quesadillas or tofu with Chinese noodles.

"Whoever thought they would hear a third-grader saying that they liked tofu and Chinese noodles?" asked Dennis Walcott, New York City schools chancellor.

Walcott was at the Active Learning Elementary School this week to celebrate its move to all-vegetarian meals five days a week. The school of nearly 400 students, from pre-kindergarten to third grade, was founded five years ago on the principle that a healthy lifestyle leads to strong academic achievement.

"We decided on a vision where health and nutrition would be a part of educating the whole child," school principal Bob Groff said.

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Filed under: Health News • School Lunch • Vegetarian

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. goatsandgreens

    As a meat eater, I have to say this school lunch plan sounds healthier than getting served wads of factory farmed mystery meat. Presumably they'll get their veggies and can opt out of the unhealthy overdoses of soy if they or their families wish. (And a note: textured soy/vegetable protein should be served less often than the meat.... talk about bad food choices!)

    I note that the veggies in the photo don't look cooked and drained of all nutritive benefits. Good going on that end of things!

    May 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  2. EricInNC

    It's ONE meal per day, so it isn't preventing anyone from getting meat and dairy, if their parents want it for them. Besides, it helps ensure that the kids get the recommended servings of fresh fruit and vegetables, whatever else they eat during the day. I wish I had such a cafeteria when I was growing up. We had the standard fatty meat on worthless white buns, oily mac-n-cheese, canned sugary fruit with fake coloring, nasty over-salted canned green beans, and all the crap approved by the industry-influenced USDA. Bleah. These kids have it GOOD.

    May 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  3. McDonalds_is_tasty_And_Does_not_Make_You_sick

    this a terriable idea ,forcing kids to eat ONLY what the mean and powerful grown-ups say to eat.

    They don't 'like' it,they only eat it cause it's forced to them.They want EREAL food,not rabbit food.

    They're HUMANS and need animal protein.Sheesh,whats wrong with dis country.

    Give 'em some guns so they can hunt and consume tasty organs and flesh

    May 3, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • ok

      because school lunches are known for their wide variety of choice where kids dont have to eat what the grown ups tell them to, this is completely destroying their plethora of choices like pizza or cold hamburger

      May 6, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  4. AJ

    This quote is ridiculous: ""Whoever thought they would hear a third-grader saying that they liked tofu and Chinese noodles?" asked Dennis Walcott, New York City schools chancellor."

    Guess what? My niece and nephew have liked a wide variety of foods since before they were even old enough to go to school! They aren't vegetarian, they were just exposed to different cuisines early-on. A vegetarian diet is LIMITING food exposure.

    My kid isn't school-age yet, but when he is if his school would do something like this, I'd be packing his lunch for him. We eat more along a combination of the WAPF and paleo/primal philosophy. And tofu/soy is NOT a healthy food, soy is something I try to avoid!

    May 3, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  5. Caiha

    Children's needs are different from adults. Basically, adults can live just fine as vegetarians, but doing it to children will cause life long health problems and poor development. However, it's not the end of the world. It's just lunch. If parents really care about their children they can make up for this school's short sighted cave in to pop nutritional fads by giving their children real food for breakfast and dinner.

    May 3, 2013 at 3:10 am |
  6. shawn l

    So, cut protein and add more carbs. Lovely.

    May 3, 2013 at 2:13 am |
    • Tessa

      Where does this myth come from that protein only comes from animals' decomposing flesh? Protein is more than abundant in plant based foods. i.e. 1 cup of black beans has 15 grams of protein. That's a third of most adult's daily need. This could be a long discussion, but I do encourage everyone to do their research. The benefits of eating a plant based diet are innumerable. We are cutting through so many of our earth's resources so fast; it is pointless, and at this rate there will be nothing left! Plus, meat, dairy, and eggs are the biggest components to an unhealthy body (physically and spiritually). Why do people think that milk, for example, is good for them? Milk causes osteoperosis! It's time to put science to good use, and teach our children about compassion.

      May 7, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
      • Buck

        "Plus, meat, dairy, and eggs are the biggest components to an unhealthy body (physically and spiritually)." I have to disagree with that statement. Lack of exercise and over eating are the biggest components to an unhealthy body. You can be physically and spiritually healthy whether or not you live a vegan lifestyle. Furthermore, by my experience, a majority of vegans I've met were not the most pleasant people. Many to me seemed downright miserable actually. And don't get me started on how most vegans revel in applying a holier than thou attitude when it comes to food topics (as illustrated by your comment).

        May 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  7. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Who cares. Daddy makes the best steaks, anyway. I'd rather that than mystery meat being fed to my kid, I guess.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      That, and some of these kids never see veggies at home.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
  8. Vegann

    Anyone who does not serve their child a strict, all organic, vegan diet should be reported as abusive and subsequently jailed.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫


      May 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Shirley U Jest

      I agree 100%. But to be clear, beef and chicken and even farm raised salmon are other form of vegetables.... All concentrated into their meaty goodness.

      I can't see any harm in one vegan meal a day. I do see harm in a school system that Dicktates what children should eat.
      What happened to parenting?

      May 2, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
      • Tessa

        Education is a way bigger problem in America... *ahem* you mean dictates? In fact, most children who are misdiagnosed with "ADHD" are fed sugary crap for breakfast and processed foods for dinner. Why are people on here commenting about "dictating?" That's the best people can come up with? We're talking about healthy food!

        May 7, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • chefmom

      I certainly hope you are joking. You know nothing about human nutrition. I was a began for 7 years, went to school for nutrition, thought I made a healthy choice and wound up very ill. Children's needs are very different than full grown adults. While everyone needs more vegetables in their diets, this school needs to be better educated. Soy in high amounts damages the thyroid. I know this personally.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:06 am |
  9. Cathy Laws

    very cool!

    May 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
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