Lately, the New York public school system has been on a roll with its feeding programs. Since its city council decided to offer free cafeteria lunches, there are now also options for vegans.
The upcoming vegan food options range from Mexicali Chili to Lentil Stew, to Zesty BBQ Crunchy Tofu — all which sounds pretty like a big improvement from conventional school lunches which are often highly processed meats or fried food.
Behind the movement is the Coalition for Health School Food, which has also helped three NYC schools go completely vegetarian. The vegan choices will allow food autonomy to children as well as lower their carbon footprint. While many parents have expressed concern over vegan diets, research can put their minds at ease.
The British Dietetic Association (BDA) have recently confirmed that “they believe a well-planned vegan diet ‘supports healthy living in people of all ages’ including ‘during pregnancy and breastfeeding.’”
Of course, students will be given the freedom to choose their own meals. Though a typical second-grader may be more privy to chicken nuggets, encouraging a side of vegetables may not be too difficult.
Some restaurants give out free meals to the needy. Others make you work for it. At Mirai Shokudo (Future Eatery) in Tokyo, customers either pay for a meal — or work an hour for one. Run single-handedly by Sekai Kobayashi, the unique dining experience teaches individuals the value of diligence.
“It’s an exciting job because I work with a new person every time. It’s interesting to develop a good rapport and work with others,” said [Kobayashi.]
Students are Mirai Shokudo’s most frequent customers — and what better a demographic to learn true independence? Despite the free lunches, Kobayashi’s business remains profitable thanks to open-sourcing. Feedback allows the ambitious entrepreneur to make improvements and remain on top of her game.
“Sharing something with others means supporting those with ambition. That underpins my approach to work,” she said.
In Tokyo without a bill to spare? No problem — just head on over to Mirai Shokudo!
Schools around the world have played a role in the battle against depleting resources. The Panyaden International School in Thailand built a sports hall that gloats a zero-carbon footprint. Now, the German International School in India is shifting to strictly vegan lunches.
The school, now 100% vegan, makes its own mock meat, produces vegan cheese from cashews, and bakes its own bread. Care is taken to see that nutritional requirements are met, by substituting animal products with protein-rich food such as quinoa, lentils, seitan, beans and hemp seeds.
The shift was prompted when the school began rehabilitating injured and abandoned animals. Besides the guilt of consuming mutton meters away from one of the school’s goats, administration believed veganism was more ethical.
“We wanted to reduce the human impact on the environment and eating less meat is the simplest way,”
To prepare for the transition, teachers dedicated classes to informative documentaries. Staff treated parents to a vegan buffet, which was more “delicious and nutritious” than expected. With avocado toast becoming the next millennial craze, I can’t imagine getting teens to up their veggie intake to be too much of a stretch.
When trapped Houston bakers baked bread for Harvey victims, it didn’t matter who they were. If someone needed a loaf of bread, regardless of status, it was going to be delivered to them. The selfless act is inspiring many, and now the Big Apple is offering public school lunches for free.
This move has been long sought by food-policy advocates and many members of the New York City Council, who said that some students would prefer to go hungry rather than admit they cannot afford to pay for lunch. Nationally, the practice of “lunch shaming” — holding children publicly accountable for unpaid school lunch bills — has garnered attention.
In the end, schools chancellor Carmen Fariña believes that all communities matter. The initiative will save families up to $300 a year — a vast amount for those under the poverty margin. New York City finances will remain unaffected.
City officials said the program was not expected to cost the city more money. The state recently changed how it tracks families that are eligible for benefits like Medicaid, matching them with the schools their children attend.
The program aspires to reach at least 200,000 more children. A lot of satisfied stomachs are to be expected.