Vegan School Lunches Could Become the Norm in Nation’s 2nd Largest School District Next Year

Vegan School Lunches Could Become the Norm in Nation's 2nd Largest School District Next Year

After a successful pilot program offering vegan school lunches at seven Los Angeles schools, the Food Services Division plans to suggest expanding the program to every school in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) by the end of the 2017-2018 school year. LAUSD, the largest school district in the state and the second-largest in the country, would become the first in the nation to offer a vegan lunch option at every school, which covers about 650,000 students.

The pilot program began in September, with the introduction of vegan school lunches in addition to regular school lunch offerings at one school in each of LAUSD’s seven districts. The program was inspired in part by work by Lila Copeland, an eighth-grade student who founded the nonprofit Earth Peace Foundation with the goal of increasing the availability of vegan school lunches.

The program immediately proved successful, reports LA School Report, even among non-vegan students. Preliminary district data shows that students choose a vegan lunch option 13 percent of the time, on average.

“We are thrilled with the reaction to the pilot and that most of the kids trying the new lunches were not vegan or vegetarian,” says Copeland. “We think more kids will now choose a healthy lunch option.”

Food Services Director Joseph Vaughn has planned to expand the vegan school lunch program to 35 additional elementary, middle, and high schools in January. He also intends to increase the vegan meal choices on offer from five to 10.

“The data clearly shows that a sufficient number of students desire vegan options in addition to the regular lunch menu,” he tells LA School Report.

This summer, the American Medical Association indicated that hospitals would do well to propose plant-based meals to patients due to their health benefits.

Amazon’s Whole Foods Market recently announced that the plant-based diet topped its list of food trend predictions for 2018.

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Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco