Cheered on by a group of supporters holding up green signs saying “Meatless Monday,” members of the San Diego Unified School District’s board of education voted Tuesday evening to begin Meatless Mondays this fall at the district’s 118 elementary and K–8 school cafeterias.
“Our job is to improve our students’ prospects for a healthy, happy and successful life,”school board trustee Kevin Beiser said before the vote.“Learning how to make good food choices is an essential component.” Driving home just how important such choices are, Beiser cited statistics saying nearly 28 percent of children in San Diego are overweight or obese.
The move to go Meatless Monday had vocal support from San Diego community members as well. Speaking in favor of a “yes” vote on the proposal during a public comment period, Dr. Lawrence Hansen, a professor at UC San Diego medical school told board members, “I have five reasons why the district should adopt Meatless Mondays: heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes and obesity.” Research has shown that cutting down on meat intake can help prevent the chronic conditions Hansen referred to, and that adopting a more plant-based diet has numerous positive health effects.
California’s second largest school district, San Diego now joins nearby Los Angeles (the state’s largest) in doing its part to promote healthy meal choices at school to tens of thousands of kids. Los Angeles schools implemented Meatless Mondays in March 2012. Across the country, 18 school districts and 47 independent schools have joined the campaign. Baltimore City Public Schools became the first fully Meatless Monday school district in 2009.
Want to bring Meatless Monday to your school? Get started with simple ideas for engaging students, staff and parents in our K-12 Tools and Resources PDF.