On Monday, September 10, the San Diego school system gave students a lesson in healthier eating.
The San Diego Unified School District, acting on a measure passed last June by the school board, served up the district’s first Meatless Monday to elementary schools and by all accounts the students passed with flying colors and full stomachs, eating up delicious meals like veggie burgers, locally grown fruits and vegetables, even sunflower seed-butter and jelly sandwiches.
The San Diego school district has been actively promoting better nutrition to students for years, offering choices like a salad bar and a vegetarian meal on the daily menu. Meatless Monday reinforces this commitment to healthier eating, while introducing children—and their parents—to the concept of cutting meat once a week to do something good for themselves and do something good for the planet.
Like hundreds of other schools across the country, one reason the San Diego Board of Education committed to Meatless Monday is timing.
“We want to get the children while they’re young, teach them good eating habits, teach them about how to compose and make a salad, to make the right choices,” said Gary Petill, Director of Food Services, to NBC affiliate, KNSD.
Substituting meats and other high-fat, processed foods with fresh fruits and vegetables will help reduce the 28% childhood obesity rate in San Diego.
Coinciding with a five-year, $750,000 federal program that will offer students classes in nutrition and healthy eating, Meatless Monday gives kids a chance to apply the lessons from the classroom and make better choices in the cafeteria.
Meatless Monday is healthy for the local economy, as well. Serving 150,000 meals a day, San Diego schools already spend $350,000 annually–10% of their budget–on California-grown produce, pumping tax dollars back to area farmers. Meatless Monday, by bringing more locally grown produce into the school once a week, will further boost the amount spent with local businesses.
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