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Unless you are a vegetarian, the concept of a cafeteria with no meat, probably evokes images of broccoli (eww) and spinach (yuck). However, ask the kids at Active Learning Elementary School in Flushing, New York and they will tell you that it's much more than that. They would know because their school cafeteria offers only vegetarian food!
And if you think that the kids are moaning and groaning about losing all the mystery meat, think again - They are all giving it a big thumbs up! The East Coast public school, which is the first in the US to make this 'radical' change, says that they began offering healthier vegetarian options about three years ago, when they noticed students avoiding the cafeteria and instead, bringing in their own vegetarian lunches.
They began by going meatless just three days a week about a year and a half ago, and then gradually shifted to four, before going all out in January 2013. However, along the way they did something most organizations making drastic changes often forget to do - Get the opinion of the kids and tweak the menu, based on the feedback.
In case you are wondering what a 'yummy' vegetarian menu comprises of, here are a few examples of what the students get to choose from - Fluffy egg omelet with melted cheese on a New York-style bagel or Waffles with warm syrup and string cheese, for breakfast, black bean and cheddar quesadilla with salsa, red roasted potatoes and broccoli or roasted organic tofu with cacciatore sauce, whole-grain pasta and roasted zucchini, for lunch.
In all fairness, the fact that Active Learning's student body which is 85% Asian and 10% Hispanic is accustomed to vegetarian and ethnic foods, made this transition a lot easier. But given the growing diversity in American schools and the push to offer healthier cuisine we would not be surprised to see the concept adopted by other public schools maybe one or two days a week.
Would you be open to at least trying it for a short period of time or would the idea of losing chicken fingers and pepperoni pizza be just inconceivable? Be sure to let us know, by adding your comments below.
Resources: CNN.com, upi.com