NEW YORK CITY — New York public school cafeterias will offer an all-vegan menu on Fridays as part of a new healthy eating initiative by Mayor Eric Adams.
Starting this week, foods containing animal products – from macaroni and cheese to pizza – will be excluded from the Friday menu.
Adams, who is a vegan himself, told WABC-TV, “Plant-based options in schools mean healthy eating and healthy living, and improving the quality of life for thousands of New York students. “
“Plant-based meals are delicious and nutritious, which is why I have previously called for vegetarian and vegan options in schools. I am delighted to see that all students will now have access to healthy foods that will prevent problems debilitating health issues,” Adams said. .
School cafeterias across the city were already completely meatless on Mondays and Fridays.
“They asked for that,” Adams said. “They are fed up with the food they are given in their schools and they want healthy options.”
Milk, which must be served under federal USDA guidelines, will still be offered. Students will continue to have non-vegan food options available to them on Fridays as well.
WABC-TV reports that the union representing the city’s 9,000 school food workers agrees, but leaders believe it would work even better with nutrition education served alongside.
“So if a student learns, you know, I eat carrots is good for my eyes, more students can eat carrots, right?” Donald Nesbit, executive vice president of Food Workers District Council 37 Local 372, said.
New York City officials say “Vegan Fridays” emphasize the importance of healthy, nutritious food. Vegan options are currently offered daily at all schools, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or hummus and pretzels.
“The DOE [Department of Education] is committed to the health and well-being of every child, and having a regular, nutritious and hearty meal every day is essential to ensure that students can succeed inside and outside the classroom class,” said Jenna Lyle, associate press officer for the Ministry of Education. Following the success of Meatless Mondays and Fridays, we are excited to expand access to healthy and nutritious food options for college students in New York City with the phased introduction of a vegan menu on Fridays. Non-vegan menu items will be available upon request.”
Officials also say that all menu items, including vegan options, have been tested and approved by small groups of students themselves.
“Variety is the spice of life, and I think that [is] another way to introduce new foods,” said Stephanie DiFiglia-Peck, registered dietitian and nutrition coordinator at Northwell Health.
This Friday’s vegan menu includes vegetarian tacos served with crispy or soft tortillas and a cup of salsa, seasoned broccoli, and carrot-lemon salad, according to the DOE’s website.