According to the Santa Barbara Independent, 50 percent of cafeteria meals served in the Santa Barbara Unified School District are vegan after a partnership between the district and plant-based company Hungry Planet.
Last year the district and Hungry Planet teamed up for Earth Day to serve vegan meatball subs, chicken chile verde burritos, and double cheeseburgers from the company’s food truck. Sales tripled over previous years and food sold out two days in a row. This caught the attention of Nancy Weiss, food director for the district.
This January she decided to offer the vegan meals to students on a call-ahead basis:
I realized I really wanted everyone to be able to experience it. I just decided we would come up with a bunch of kid-friendly menu ideas and roll it out quietly.
This month’s Hungry Planet options include soyrizo quesadillas, crispy chicken burgers, spaghetti and meatballs, beef nachos, and chicken Alfredo. Weiss said, “A lot of days they are running out of the Hungry Planet option.
Santa Barbara isn’t the first school district to offer vegan options. Over 50 school districts nationwide currently observe Meatless Monday, and vegan options at schools have been on the rise for years.
Last year, all 1,800 public schools in the New York City district started to offer at least one vegan option, and Los Angeles Unified School District rolled out a vegan pilot program to offer more plant-based lunch options to students at no additional cost.
Offering vegan meals at schools will not only help improve students’ health and teach them how to eat a nutritious diet but also spare countless animals a life of misery at factory farms. These shifts toward plant-based school lunches are shaping the way future generations will eat.