A school in New York is testing plant-based power, reported Care2 on October 27. With a 100 percent vegetarian lunch menu, this public school has become the first in the nation to replace chicken nuggets with tofu temptations.
So here's the top question in the "is this working" test: How do the kids feel?
Despite the fact that students can bring any lunch that they desire from home, 90 percent of the students voluntarily are opting for vegetarian virtue. And the news gets even better when it comes to the benefits:
- The number of students at the school who were classified as overweight and obese fell two percent.
- Attendance has improved.
- Test scores have increased.
- Teachers feel that the students are paying attention for longer periods of time and are more focused.
“Students also attend weekly nutrition classes where they learn about making smart food choices,” reports EcoWatch. "Teachers also let students whose energy is lagging to take breaks that allow them to get up for a minute and be active.”
However, EcoWatch also notes that the demography may have helped.
"About 70 percent of the students at P.S. 244 have families with Asian or Indian roots; this veggie-friendly cultural background may have played a role in the smoothness of the transition and the popularity of the program with the school’s parents and students."
Also helping: Gourmet choices, according to the New York City site, such as:
- roasted chickpeas
- braised black beans with plantains
- tofu vegetable wrap with cucumber salad
- \vegetarian chili served with brown rice
- roasted tofu with Asian sesame sauce
The school, which opened in 2008, began offering a vegetarian lunch three times a week and then increased it to four times a week. This year it became the first NYC public school to have a vegetarian menu for all meals.
What's clear: Administrators and faculty take pride in their accomplishments. The school's site showcases its success:
- Recognized by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation as one of the healthiest schools in the nation.
- First public school in the nation to serve a healthy plant-based lunch every day.
- Provide students with comprehensive fitness and nutrition education in addition to their regular Phys. Ed. classes.
- Students participate in healthy food-tastings at least once a month.
- Stellar student attendance rate, well-above city average.
- 100% passing rate in 2011 State ELA and Math Exams.
- 86% in ELA and 92% in Math scoring 3s and 4s in the 2012 State exams.
- Secured over $30,000 in Grant funding for School Wellness and Garden.
Our grade for dietary health: A++! And a tip for those parents and teachers who think that their kids would not dare to take a bite out of anything beyond a burger: Read about Chef Gordon Ramsay's success in teaching kids to love liver by clicking here.