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Cash Prizes for Vegetarian School Lunches

Do you know a student whose school serves veggie gumbo and jerk tofu? Or maybe your local school provides soymilk and rice milk at no cost to students. If you know food service professionals who have developed and implemented healthful and successful school lunch programs, nominate them for PCRM’s 2009 Golden Carrot Awards.

Each year, as part of the Healthy School Lunches Program, PCRM presents the Golden Carrot Awards to food service professionals who offer schoolchildren a range of healthy options, especially a variety of vegetarian foods and nondairy beverage choices.

Awards include a grand prize of $5,000, with $1,500 going to the food service professional and $3,500 given to the school food service program, and up to four additional $1,000 awards, with $500 going to the food service professional and $500 to the school food service program.

school lunch worker"This incentive for food service professionals to provide children with healthful vegetarian lunch options is especially timely in light of a recent federal study showing that hundreds of thousands of American children follow vegetarian diets," says PCRM nutritionist Kathryn Strong, M.S., R.D. "But since vegetarian meals tend to be low in fat and rich in fruits and vegetables, they’re a healthful option even for students who aren’t vegetarians."

Previous Golden Carrot Award winners include Ann Cooper, director of nutrition services for Berkeley Public Schools in Berkeley, Calif., where all vegetables are organic and the schools spend more than $100,000 a year to procure vegetables from local farmers. Dawn Olcott, a nutritionist for Cambridge Public Schools in Cambridge, Mass., won, in part, for implementing a taste-testing process to pilot new recipes and let the students participate in creating a healthier menu.

This year’s nominees will be evaluated on:

  • Variety of vegan and vegetarian entrée items served daily
  • Availability of low-fat and cholesterol-free food options on the school campus, including cafeteria à la carte items, vending machines, etc.
  • Availability of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Offering of nondairy beverage
  • Use and effectiveness of nutrition education and other innovative programs

Parents, teachers, principals, fellow food service workers, and community members are encouraged to nominate food service professionals by the April 8 deadline. Self-nominations are accepted and encouraged.

Please visit to download a nomination form.

Kathryn Strong, M.S., R.D.
Kathryn Strong, M.S., R.D.

PCRM Online, February 2009

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