Stirring up interest in K-12 plant-based meals

Photograph: Shutterstock

Kids are famously hard to please, but more school districts are discovering that encouraging more healthful choices—especially plant-based alternatives—is deliciously doable.

Steps to grow interest in K-12 plant-based dining

  1. Meatless Mondays are on the calendar in 50 districts and many individual schools. Animal products typically aren’t eliminated entirely, but vegetarian entrees get star treatment at least one day a week.
  2. School gardens help students understand the link between farming and what’s on their plates.
  3. Setting up a weekly or monthly tasting table with bite-size portions can whet appetites for a new dish and offer valuable feedback to help gauge potential buy-in.

Success with plant-based options

School districts in New York and Los Angeles have led the way in promoting plant-based choices.

All 1,200 public schools in the Big Apple began offering a vegan hummus option during the 2017-18 school year.

The schools also offer a rotation of chili and sloppy joes (both made with vegetarian ingredients like beans, textured vegetable protein or tempeh), lentil stew, barbecue tofu, and braised black beans with plantains. Brooklyn’s PS1 is one of three city schools that have transitioned to an all-vegetarian menu.

 “My students have expressed an interest in healthier eating, and the school gave them the option to choose this menu.”

-Arlene Ramos, Principal, Brooklyn PS1

Following an enthusiastic response to a pilot program, the L.A. Unified School District in California announced plans to roll out a plant-based lunch option at three dozen additional schools by the end of the 2017-18 school year.

Getting kids on board with plant-based eating isn’t impossible. With these tips and examples of success, plus these plant-forward recipes from Bush’s Best, the challenge of doing so will become a lot more approachable.

These trends and insights were created in partnership with Foodservice Director.

This post is sponsored by Bush’s Best®

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