Chicken nuggets, beef burgers, and other high-fat foods are common menu items in school lunch lines. But this March, students at three schools in Broward County, Fla., had the opportunity to test drive healthier options.
Gardenburger’s flame-grilled veggie burger appeared on the menu at Eagle Point Elementary School, Driftwood Middle School, and Everglades High School, along with vegan chili and other healthful choices. The meatless burger has no cholesterol and no trans fat, but it does offer 11 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. The launch of the new entrées is part of an effort by Broward County Public Schools—the nation’s sixth largest school district—to serve more healthful food.
The veggie initiative began with one student. Ashley Capps, a 10th grader at Everglades High School, wanted more vegetarian options in her school lunch line. To persuade administrators that students would buy meatless foods, she circulated a petition that was signed by more than 100 of her classmates.
“I started the petition so that the people who were vegan or vegetarian—or even just people looking for healthy options—could have something to eat at school,” Capps said. “It was really hard when all there was to eat was vending machine food.”
At the request of a Broward County school board member, PCRM nutritionists helped the district’s food service department roll out the new veggie burger. PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., visited each school to speak to parents and administrators about the healthfulness of vegetarian options.
Young people are increasingly inclined to choose vegetarian foods. A recent Harris Interactive Poll found that the number of vegetarian teenagers has tripled in the last 10 years. More and more schools are now looking to support this healthy trend. For more information, please visit www.HealthySchoolLunches.org.