BACKGROUND & PURPOSE
- America’s children are increasingly afflicted by obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension, as a direct result of their diet and lifestyle.
- The easiest way to bring down children’s intake of fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol and increase fiber and other nutrients is by providing them with healthy plant-based (vegetarian) choices.
- JAINA helped pass “The Healthy School Meals Act (H.R. 4870) This legislation provided plant-based foods to schools, increase the availability and affordability, and provide incentives for schools to provide daily plant-based options.
- The HR-4870 Act directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct a pilot program in which the selected school districts with plant-based protein products (center of the plate entrée items like vegetable burgers) and nondairy milk substitutes to evaluate free of charge.
- The USDA has conducted an evaluation of the pilot program and invested $7 million for program implementation.
More Plant-Based Commodities:
- Following the pilot program, the USDA has purchase plant-based protein products and nondairy milk made available to schools through the commodities purchase program and provided training materials regarding nutritional benefits and preparation of these products.
Incentives for Schools to Offer Healthy Plant-Based Meals:
- School districts where at least two-thirds of the students are offered plant-based entrées on each daily lunch menu has received supplemental commodity assistance of 25 percent of their total commodity assistance, which is used to purchase fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains through the USDA commodities program.
Increased Availability of Cow’s Milk Alternatives:
- An increasing number of children cannot drink milk due to lactose intolerance, allergy, or preference, and are therefore falling short nutritionally.
- Maryland, Florida, California, Alabama, New York and HawaiI passed Resolution Requiring Vegetarian Choices in Schools
- The resolution, which acknowledges that one-fourth of school children are overweight or obese, recommends an emphasis on The New Four Food Groups and a vegetarian entrée option.
The resolution highlights the fact that many children do not get the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, and that a vegetarian entrée would help improve those poor eating habits.
It also notes that vegetarian or vegan schoolchildren should have appropriate dishes for them at school.
Several states are considering similar resolutions.
- All schoolchildren deserve to have healthy, vegetarian entrée options as part of their school lunch program.
- If you live in a state with an existing resolution make sure your school food service staff is aware of it and encourage them to follow the resolution.
- To help pass a healthy school resolution in your state, contact your local state senator or representative and ask them to support a similar resolution.
- For more information on how to pass legislation on school lunches, visit: http://www.choiceusa.net/State%20Initiaves.htm
Dr. Sushil Jain
Chairperson Plant-based Meal Initiative Program
Dr.Sushil.Jain@jaina.org / firstname.lastname@example.org