Vegan Fridays: NYC school cafeterias launching healthy eating initiative

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Thursday, February 3, 2022
Vegan Fridays: NYC schools launching healthy eating initiative
Stacey Sager reports on New York City public school cafeterias going vegan on Fridays as part of a new policy from Mayor Eric Adams.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City public school cafeterias are going vegan on Fridays as part of a new policy from Mayor Eric Adams that starts this week.

It means foods like macaroni and cheese, pizza, and mozzarella sticks will be off the menu.

"Plant-based options in schools means healthy eating and healthy living, and improving the quality of life for thousands of New York City students," said Adams, who is vegan himself. "Plant-based meals are delicious and nutritious, which is why I previously called for vegetarian and vegan options in schools. I'm thrilled to see that all students will now have access to healthy foods that will prevent debilitating health conditions."

City school cafeterias were already completely meatless on Mondays and Fridays.

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"They asked for this," Adams said. "They are tired of the food that they are being feed in their schools, and they want healthy options."

Milk, which is required to be served under federal USDA guidelines, will still be offered.

The union representing the 9,000 food workers in city schools agree, but leaders think it would work even better with some nutritional education served on the side."

"So if a student learns, you know, I'm eating carrots is good for my eyes, more students may eat carrots, right?" Food Workers DC37 Local 372 Executive Vice President Donald Nesbit said.

City officials say Vegan Fridays emphasize the importance of healthy and nutritious eating. Vegan options are currently offered in all schools on a daily basis, including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hummus and pretzels, and other options.

"The DOE is committed to the health and wellbeing of every child, and having a consistent, nourishing and filling meal each day is essential in ensuring students can succeed both inside and outside the classroom," Department of Education Associate Press Secretary Jenna Lyle said. "Following on the success of Meatless Monday and Fridays, we are excited to be expanding access to healthy and nutritious food options for NYC students with the phasing in of a vegan focused menu on Fridays. Non-vegan menu items will be available upon request."

Students will continue to have non-vegan options available to them on Fridays, as well.

Officials also say all products on the menus, including vegan food options, have been taste tested and approved in small groups of students themselves.

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Monthly menus are made available to all students and families on the DOE website at the start of every month.

"Variety is the spice of life, and I think this another way to introduce new foods," said dietician Stephanie DiFiglia-Peck, Nutrition Coordinator at Northwell Health.

Friday's vegan menu includes veggie tacos served with crispy or soft tortillas and a salsa cup, seasoned broccoli and a carrot and lemon salad.


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