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7 Feb, 2022 09:34

Parents boiling over Meatless Fridays at schools

NYC Mayor Eric Adams hopes to improve public health with his push for vegan lunches
Parents boiling over Meatless Fridays at schools

Parents of New York City schoolchildren have taken to social media to share photos of what they believe are inadequate school lunches. On Thursday, NYC Mayor Eric Adams mandated ‘vegan Fridays’ in all city public schools, claiming this would serve to improve public health.

Judging by the photos posted on Twitter on the first meatless Friday, children were served dry black bean tacos, bags of fries, a banana along with stir fries and other packaged snacks.

One parent said that while she, too, believed in the virtues of healthy eating, the kind of food served to schoolchildren on Friday did not fall into that category. She also pointed out that some students from less well-to-do families rely on school meals to get the nutrients they need. The woman described Adams’ initiative as not “thought through.

Another twitter user said that “most of the kids dumped this in the garbage or just ate the cookies,” and complained that the meal “smelled like armpits & it was completely unappetizing.” The woman then asked why would the city authorities “remove options for students?

However, according to Mayor Adams’ office, the initiative is a success, with a statement on Friday claiming that “parents, students and principals across the city have given positive feedback on today’s launch.” Officials insist that the change in public-school menus “will eventually improve the quality of life for thousands of New York City students.

Moreover, city officials claim all the plant-based options on school menus have been taste-tested and approved in small groups of students.

Under the new policy, which affects 930,000 New York public-school students, milk is still served with every meal as per federal USDA guidelines. Jenna Lyle, associate press secretary for the New York City Department of Education, assured the public that non-vegan items will also be available on request on Fridays, too.

In fact, students have been able to opt for vegan meals in New York schools for a while already, including peanut butter, jelly sandwiches, hummus and pretzels. However, now all menus will be plant-based on Fridays.

Democratic mayor Eric Adams is a known proponent of veganism, which he credits with reversing his diabetes diagnosis. Speaking on Thursday, Adams gushed about being “thrilled to see that all students will now have access to healthy foods that will prevent debilitating health conditions.” He added that students “asked for this,” as “they are tired of the food that they are being fed in their schools.

A similar but more sweeping initiative introduced by the mayor of France’s Lyon last year saw meat products taken off school menus altogether. Gregory Doucet’s decision caught flak from both parents and government officials, who accused him of putting children’s health on the line and of disrespecting the country’s farmers. The city mayor has, however, stood by his decision despite the criticism.