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Thread: Vegan Lunches in High School?

  1. #1
    thread-neutral quagga's Avatar
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    Vegan Lunches in High School?

    A heartwarming article from today's paper...

    Inside Bay Area

    Logan students satisfy vegan cravings

    By Grace Rauh, STAFF WRITER
    Inside Bay Area

    UNION CITY, Calif. For years Seema Rupani, a slender long-haired high school senior, has carried her own lunch to school. As a strict vegetarian who later became a vegan, cutting out all dairy and other animal byproducts from her diet, there wasn't much if anything she could eat from James Logan High School's cafeteria.
    But Rupani and other members of the Youth Humane Society student club hope to change that. They envision a high school cafeteria where students choose between bulgur and burgers, soup and salami, and beans and burritos, where the line for natural fruit juice, nuts and vegan soups stretches as long as the queue for pepperoni pizza.

    "Something I've been wanting to do for a really long time is get healthy and vegan foods available," said Rupani, the club president. "Why shouldn't we be a leader in our district (when it comes to) healthier options?"

    After six months of heavy lobbying, Rupani and her club mates convinced school administrators that healthy food not only belonged in the lunch line, but that students would buy it if given the chance. Now, they are proving their point.

    Since school resumed this month after winter vacation, Rupani and other club members have hawked soy milk, fresh fruit and vegan burgers from a small stand they call the Smart Cart, strategically positioned outside the school cafeteria in Colt Courtyard.

    Minutes after the lunch bell rang, Stephanie Ly and about two dozen other students waited in line. Ly normally brings her lunch from home because the lunchroom food is "kind of greasy," she said, making a face. She was going to make her second purchase from the cart in three days.

    "Most people still eat junk food around here," she said. "I myself like healthy food better."

    The positive reception from students and teachers at the school hasn't surprised club members, but it did stun Elsie Szeto, New Haven's director of food and nutrition services. Her department stocks the Smart Cart with healthy items each day but decided to start out small, in case the project flopped. When the cart sold out in less than 10 minutes on the first day, Szeto said she realized there was a market for healthy food at Logan.

    "I'll be honest I'm flabbergasted," she said. "These kids are buying chocolate soy milk. ... I would never suspect young adults or high school kids would buy soy milk." The students will continue to sell food through Friday. The most popular items then will be incorporated into the regular lunch line at Logan, Szeto said.

    Healthy-minded students conceded they probably are a minority among the more than 4,000 students at Logan, but say they are thrilled to have more vegetarian options on campus. Even if they aren't converting legions of fast-food junkies yet, it appears their efforts are having some influence on the student body at large.

    Senior Anthony Bennett chomped contentedly on his slice of pizza, the hood of his gray sweat shirt pulled over his head, until he spotted the vegan cart.

    "This is bad. This is really bad," he said. "I'm eating pizza by the Smart Cart."
    It is not enough to be a righteous vegan, or even a dedicated, knowledgeable vegan advocate. The animals don't need us to be right, they need us to be effective.
    --Matt Ball

  2. #2
    we are borg grog's Avatar
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    That's great. At the least, its exposure for the masses. I don't think I had even heard of veganism in highschool
    Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? - Gandalf the Grey

  3. #3
    Vegan Philosopher ConsciousCuisine's Avatar
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    That gives me happy feelings and hope for my Daughter's future (she'll be in high school in a couple of years!) and you best believe I will be speaking out and making change happen!
    Vegan is as Vegan does

  4. #4
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
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    Also in Atlanta, sorta.

    High School Opens Vegetarian Lunch Line
    ATLANTA - Miriam Archibong remembers the food offerings her high school cafeteria used to serve for vegetarians: bland salads and greasy cheese pizza.

    But salads are "not sufficient to survive," she says. "Cheese pizza that's not healthy because of all that grease."

    Archibong often brought her own food, lunching on applesauce, carrots and water. Finally, she and other vegetarians at Grady High School demanded and won some changes two years ago.

    Today, Grady High has a separate vegetarian lunch line with a menu as varied as veggie eggrolls, pasta salad, vegetarian pizza and sloppy joes made of tofu.

    "My favorite thing was the veggie burger. It was so good," said Archibong, who graduated in 2005 and now is pursuing more vegetarian options at her new school Spelman College, an all-girls and historically black school, also in Atlanta.

    For years, school cafeterias have tried to please students with vegetarian offerings. The American School Food Service Association says more than a third of U.S. high schools have meatless items that include salads and cheese pizza.

    However, a new trend vegetarian-only lunch lines has started in the unlikeliest of places the South, home of the "Stroke Belt," long known for its trademark fried and fatty foods and higher rates of heart attacks and strokes than other parts of the country.

    The urban Atlanta high school's vegetarian-only lunch line is believed to be one of the first in the country. It's an odd birthplace for such a healthy innovation, considering the school is only blocks from the city's downtown bastions of Southern cuisine, including the fried chicken and fried green tomatoes at the historic Mary Mac's Tea Room and the fried peach pies at the landmark Varsity restaurant.

    Schools in Eugene, Ore., and in other progressive, health-conscious cities of the Pacific Northwest are beginning to look to Atlanta's example, said Tom Callahan, senior vice president of Sodexho Inc., the company that provides Grady's food service.

    Emphasis in the past was simply on making sure there were meatless options, Callahan said. Last year his company brought the separate vegetarian menu to Eugene "and now we're starting to see some momentum building," he said.

    In the middle of a national obesity epidemic in which up to 30 percent of U.S. children are overweight or obese, health officials long have been concerned about what students eat, or whether they eat. For example, Atlanta schools' cafeterias only serve meals to about one in five high schoolers, who aren't allowed to leave campus for lunch. School officials worry that many of the students either are bringing junk food for lunch or are not eating at all.

    "There are students who are coming to us on empty and leaving on empty. We constantly have to look at creative ways to engage middle and high school students," said Dr. Marilyn Hughes of Atlanta Public Schools' nutrition department.

    "That concerns us overall for the obesity rate and for our commitment to academic excellence. We know they never had the opportunity to reach that if they never had proper nourishment," Hughes said.

    But Grady's vegetarian line has been a popular cafeteria draw. Originally designed for the 30 students in Archibong's Vegetarian Club, meat-eaters also jumped in line and the cafeteria now serves vegetarian entrees to up to 400 of the school's 1,200 students each day. This past fall, the school district offered the vegetarian option to other schools, although so far there have been no takers.

    At Grady, non-vegetarian students who graze in the vegetarian line said they like having better non-meat choices.

    "I get the vegetarian meals because they have a decent selection you can choose from," said ninth-grader Jessica Fortney, 15. "Otherwise, I would have to eat the disgusting pizza every day."

  5. #5
    tiny banana gur's Avatar
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    wow, impressive!

  6. #6
    Ordained Church of Cheezish Minister MissLovely's Avatar
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    I swear, I thought Eugene would be ahead of Atlanta. Then again, we had a Tacotime in our cafeteria.

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