Pilot Program Is So Popular, School District Is Expanding!

The vegan lunch program, that started as a test to see if pupils would really eat the food, has proven to be so incredibly popular. That the LA Unified has announced the Food Services Division are planning to expand the program by the end of this school year, to include every school in the district!

Started in September, some of the vegan items have already run out, surprising everyone involved, and with students asking for more choices, regardless if they identify as vegan or not. The enthusiastic reception has really surprised everyone, not lest of all the students.

Carolina Sagrero, a sixteen year old student at Roosevelt High School, who has claimed to neither be vegan or even vegetarian. Explained that ‘Everyone loves the vegan chili’ said Sagrero, a junior on the volleyball team. “It got me thinking about my diet, and so I’ve tried more of the vegan options. There’s a stereotype that it has less flavor, but it’s not true.”

She explained that that the school’ vegan options have drastically changed her eating habits at home, not just for herself, but her family also. They are not eating less meat and her mother cooks more healthy options while at home.

“It is exciting to see that students are trying something different for the first time,” said the district’s Senior Nutrition Specialist Ivy Marx, who has worked as a school dietitian for more than 25 years. With students now picking the vegan option a lot more than expected, and even on some days, the divide is split 50/50 with the vegan option growing in popularity, it’s no wonder the school district is expanding the program.

Food Services Director Joseph Vaughn said he is committed to the program and expanding it, without increasing the food services budget, which he has been mandated to rein in. He is now drafting an informative for the entire board that could  “begin a strategic roll out of the vegan option” starting in January.

A total of 31,204 vegan entrees were dished out during 52 days of the pilot program so far, rotating five menu items. The district plans to increase the menu items to 10. Vaughn noted, “The data clearly shows that a sufficient number of students desire vegan options in addition to the regular lunch menu.”

The vegan pilot idea was championed by former school board president and vegetarian Steve Zimmer, and increased in popularity by sophomore Lila Copeland, who as an eighth-grader founded the nonprofit Earth Peace Foundation to push for vegan school lunches.

“We are thrilled with the reaction to the pilot and that most of the kids trying the new lunches were not vegan or vegetarian,” Lila said after a recent meeting with the Food Services division. “We think more kids will now choose a healthy lunch option.”

With veganism growing by 500% since 2014, it’s understandable that groups such as Vegan Pregnancy and Parenting, the largest vegan parenting group in the world is so popular with hundreds of families joining every week with the same agreement of raising their families vegan, and now with more popping up, as Dietitians provide their services online at drastically reduced costs. Veganism looks like it’s going to jump in numbers for 2018 also! Let’s hope more schools decide to provide plant based food for the students.

With recent chatter to how children who are raised on vegan diets are healthier, maybe the next generation of kids will be sneaking out for their favorite vegan dish!

Let us know in the comments if your school has started adding more vegan options!