CA Considers Vegan Sch. Lunch

A California assemblyman plans to introduce legislation this month that would urge the state's public schools to offer daily vegetarian/vegan lunch options.

State Assemblyman Joe Nation (D-Marin County) will sponsor the resolution, with support from Project Healthy Beginnings (PHB)—a CA–based coalition of parents, health authorities, environmentalists and animal rights activists.

Need is there: "There is a growing demand for salad bars and plant-based vegetarian hot lunches by vegan/vegetarian families and non-vegetarian families," says PHB director Barbara Gates.

Plant-based vegetarian lunch options include meatless pastas, chilies and soups, veggie burgers, bean and rice burritos, and rice bowls. Gates says these dishes easily meet USDA standards "while benefiting all children's health, behavior and learning capabilities with their emphasis on 'foundation foods' at the base of the Food Guide Pyramid."

Hawaii set a precedent last year by passing its own resolution to facilitate more vegetarian options in school foodservice menus. An estimated 2% to 5% of the U.S. population currently identifies themselves as vegetarians, consuming no animal, meat or dairy food.

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Sidney Central School District in Sidney, N.Y., has received $58,783 from the state to improve its farm-to-school program, The Daily Star reports.

The grant will be used to aid in appointing a farm-to-school coordinator and assistant who will help source local farm products for 10 districts in the region for NY Thursday, an initiative where cafeterias attempt to serve meals made entirely by local ingredients every Thursday.

The funding is part of a $12 million award spread among 12 districts throughout the state by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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