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School lunch in the United States has been a divisive topic lately. Recently, newly-appointed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue revealed that they would be relaxing the regulations set in place by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which sought to ensure healthy meals for kids in public schools in the United States. While Perdue was vague about what these relaxed regulations look like, the main concern is whether or not children, many of whom depend on the school for lunch, will lose access to healthier foods like fresh fruit and vegetables.
Luckily, some schools have made changes that have earned national attention – regardless of the Secretary’s actions. The Oakland Unified School District recently changed its lunch menu to reduce meat and cheese and add more fresh produce and whole grains. Meanwhile, a ban on processed meats in two California school districts has been proposed due to the connection between eating processed meat and an increased risk for several types of disease. And in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), it seems like teenage activist Lila Copeland’s goal of introducing a vegan lunch option on the school’s menu may finally become a reality.
As reported by KPCC, an unspecified number of schools within the district may pilot a vegan meal program come August. According to LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer, “we have had a demand and when we get a demand like this from our community, we institute a pilot to find out is this something that we really could implement district-wide.” Zimmer was also sure to note that the new program would not make lunches more expensive for students.
Prior to this announcement, Lila Copeland stood before the LAUSD board last June, with actress Pamela Anderson, Cowspiracy’s Dr. Michael Klaper, athlete Torre Washington, and a host of other notable health experts in tow, to present evidence in favor of getting more plant-based food on the school’s menu. It seems like she presented a moving argument, since the district may be moving forward with incorporating more vegan meal options in the cafeteria. The LAUSD Board President presented the pilot program to the district board Tuesday, and according to VegNews, the plans have been approved.
In a press release that announced the pilot meal program, the Food Services Co-Director of LAUDS Laura Benavidez, praised this new development: “The passing of the resolution shows the bold steps this school district is taking to ensure the health and wellness of students. Providing the best possible, highest-quality food for students shouldn’t be a privilege, it should be a right.”
Hopefully, the change won’t stop here. In addition to becoming a champion for healthy, plant-based meal options within her own school district, Copeland is also the founder of the Healthy Freedom Campaign, which seeks to see vegan meal options implemented on a federal level by 2020.
Way to go! Now what are other school districts waiting for?
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