PS 244, an elementary school in Flushing, New York, is now serving an all-vegetarian menu. It is believed to be one of the first public schools in America to do so.
The menu includes healthy recipes such as roasted chickpeas, braised black beans with plantains, tofu vegetable wrap with cucumber salad, vegetarian chili served with brown rice, falafel, and roasted tofu with Asian sesame sauce. The school, which opened in 2008, began offering a vegetarian lunch three times a week and then increased it to four times a week. This year it became the first NYC public school to have a vegetarian menu for all meals.
The importance of healthy and nutritious meals
“I am proud of the students and staff for trailblazing this extraordinary path,” Chancellor Walcott said. “Our school meals program has evolved under the Bloomberg Administration to offer dishes that meet our nutritional standards. I want to thank the Office of SchoolFood and the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food for working collaboratively to create vegetarian meals.”
“We created PS 244 based on a principle of a healthy lifestyle and academic achievement,” Principal Robert Groff, one of the school’s founders, said. “We discovered early on that our kids were gravitating toward our vegetarian offerings, and we kept expanding the program to meet the demand. The vegetarian menu fits right in with our mission and we are thrilled that our students in Pre-Kindergarten all the way up to Grade 3 understand the importance of healthy and nutritious meals.”
Attendance, test scores and energy are all improved...
The New York Daily News reports that Students at the top-rated Public School 244, in Flushing, have longer attention spans and better academic scores since the school went vegetarian, school officials said.
The school was recognized Tuesday by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that promotes plant-based diets, for becoming the country’s first public school to serve vegetarian-only meals in its cafeteria.
“We believe that [students] achieve better when they have healthier food choices and are educated about those food choices,” said Bob Groff, principal of the pre-k through grade 3 school that went veggie in January.
Groff said the school went vegetarian because the plant-based choices were better than the carnivorous ones offered by the city.
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The New York Post says that while the food was well received, not all the kids were wild about having their meat consumption restricted to grandpa’s chicken wings or mom’s home-cooked fish.
“The beef and meat is pretty good [at school],” said 9-year-old Mavis Li, a third-grader. “I already miss the meat we had a few months ago.”
School officials said that parents have been consulted every step of the way and that the school began by piloting an all-vegetarian menu three days of the week.
Parents still have the option of packing meaty offerings into their kids’ lunch boxes.
“It’s been received very well; that’s why there’s so much excitement about it,” said Amie Hamlin, director of the school’s partner, the NY Coalition for Healthy School Food.