New York mayor announces “Meatless Monday” public-school lunches

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CNN reports today that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that all New York public schools will have “Meatless Mondays” in the 2019-20 school year. At a news conference, de Blasio touted the advantage of the meatless meals, saying that reducing meat consumption will improve New Yorkers’ health and be environmentally friendly. CNN also cites an interview with dietitian Sharon Palmer, who pointed out: “Even going meatless one day a week can make a difference, as you increase all of those whole plant foods—beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits—and decrease more animal foods, in particular red and processed meat.”

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But not everyone is on board with the mayor’s plan. Some point out that the meatless Monday meal may contain less protein, which may not be helpful for low-income kids who depend on the school lunch as their main meal. And some conservatives are pointing to it as evidence of a calculated socialist regime:

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The effort was first piloted in 15 Brooklyn schools, and will go citywide when the 2019-20 school year kicks off in the fall. For the naysayers, CNN reports that Staten Island Borough President James Oddo has this to say: “Look at the science… Look at the data. Look at the childhood obesity. Look at pre-diabetes diagnoses. Look at the fact that 65 percent of American kids age 12 to 1 4 shows signs of early cholesterol disease. Then, perhaps you will embrace the fact that we can’t keep doing things the same way, including welcoming the idea of Meatless Mondays.”

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.

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DISCUSSION

PalestinianChicken

Former NYC public school lunch kid here. The protein access concern is legitimate when 25.2% of the under-18 population in NYC lives below poverty and a much higher % of that goes to public schools. My family never suffered from food insecurity, but enough of my friends and classmates did that I saw it firsthand.

The real solution is good, balanced diet in schools that kids want to eat. Vegetables in NYC public schoools 20 years ago were over-vinegared three-bean salad out of a can or a plop of unappetizing, over-vinegared iceberg lettuce salad. If they can’t work tasty, decently-prepared vegetables into the menu, then the only thing those kids will be eating on Mondays will be french fries.