The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) is a Chicago Public Charter School, located on the underserved Southwest side of Chicago. The school’s innovative and holistic approach to education aims to foster systemic change and inspire the way society educates our future generations. Its food program is a pilot program in partnership with Chicago Public Schools. AGC has operated an intentional food program that is 100% organic and includes meatless options since its founding.
Meatless Monday at AGC
AGC serves, scratch-made breakfast, lunch and snacks to 450 students and 50 staff. The school celebrates Meatless Mondays as well as one additional plant-based day each week.
Going Green at AGC
AGC offers a vegan and vegetarian options every day and never serves red meat. In line with AGC’s green mission, all food scraps are composted while trays, glasses and silverware are washed and re-used. This helps the cafeteria also achieve zero waste status.
For lunch, students may enjoy tasty options such as teriyaki tofu, hummus wraps, or black bean burgers, all served with a fruit and vegetable side dish.
“Meatless Monday is a weekly tradition every school should celebrate. Our students start the week with a healthy and delicious reminder of the daily choices they can make to positively impact their bodies and their earth.”
— Katherine Elmer-DeWitt, External Initiative Manager
Providence St. Vincent Medical Center is a non-profit, acute care teaching hospital in Portland, Oregon. The center is the largest hospital in Oregon. It’s licensed for 552 beds and has over 3,500 employees.
Meatless Monday at St. Vincent
St. Vincent serves 2000 meals daily to patients and guests. On Meatless Mondays, St. Vincent’s café dishes up meat-free entrees like rich Indian dishes with curry and coconut milk, tacos with cilantro and lime, hoisin glazed tofu with string beans, vegetable lasagna and stir-fry veggie dishes. The hospital also uses signage to educate the community about the health benefits of eating more meat-free meals.
From Idea to Implementation
Dr. Melissa K. Li, a gastrointestinal pathologist at Providence St. Vincent, first presented the idea to the hospital’s foodservice department. Dr. Li spends much of her workday at the autopsy table where she sees firsthand the disease caused by unhealthy diets at a microscopic level. “I believe it is the responsibility of all medical professionals to promote health and prevent disease, not just to treat the symptoms,” she says. And part of that responsibility is advocating a healthy diet.
After she read an article about a Colorado hospital that had adopted a Meatless Monday program, Dr. Li forwarded it to Jason Lee, St. Vincent’s retail restaurant manager. Just three weeks later the hospital kicked off a Meatless Monday program.
Dr. Li commended the hospital’s dining operation for its announcement, saying, “Reducing meat consumption and eating a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables is a great way to combat chronic disease and improve overall health.”
“Hospitals should be setting the example for good health in their communities,” said Jason Lee. “We’re participating in Meatless Monday to introduce our patients, employees and the community to all the healthy, delicious meat-free foods available.”
Generating Community Attention
When St. Vincent kicked off Meatless Monday, the local newsmedia, including the daily newspaper, The Oregonian, and local television stations covered the launch of the program. This generated thousands of dollars’ worth of earned media coverage and brought the message of Meatless Monday beyond the walls of the hospital into the community at large.
With close to 33,000 students, University of California, Davis has the third-largest enrollment in the UC. The 2015 U.S. News & World Report college rankings named UC Davis as the 9th-best public university in the United States. Dining services at UC-Davis is operated by Sodexo. There are three resident dining halls and eight retail locations, including a full-service restaurant. The resident dining halls are open to the public and are all-you-care-to-eat. UC-Davis serves more than 55,000 meals each week in its three residential dining halls.
Meatless Monday at UC-Davis
UC-Davis has been participating in Meatless Monday since 2007. The university offers vegetarian and vegan options daily and demarcates them on menus which students see upon entering the dining halls. One dining hall has a vegan action station, The Blue Onion. Students can enjoy options like Roasted Vegetable Panini, Green Curry Soup with Noodles, Seitan au Vin and Jungle Curry.
UC-Davis is reducing meat purchases by encouraging students to participate in Meatless Monday by highlighting some of its most delicious meat-free options on Mondays.
Marketing Meat-Free Meals
Marketing is a huge part of Meatless Monday at UC-Davis. Dining services uses its paid student coordinators and volunteer interns to table on a variety of issues, including Meatless Monday, throughout the year.
Using this peer-to-peer model, 8-10 times per year, students set up tables in dining commons and retail locations. They educate peers on the benefits of eating more plant-based foods for the environment and their health. Tablers encourage students to participate in educational activities and collect Meatless Monday pledges. Between 500-1,000 UC-Davis students pledge to do Meatless Monday each year. Every Monday, students who have pledged are e-mailed a weekly reminder including Meatless Monday menu options and they’re invited to a vegan ice cream social at the end of the year. In addition to staying in touch with students, the pledge allows the school to track the impact it can have by doing Meatless Monday, as seen in the graphic to the right.
Using social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, UC-Davis’ marketing team can alert diners to Meatless Monday offerings. Posters featuring pictures of students who have taken the pledge adorn the dining commons’ walls. Student interns learn valuable marketing skills by designing table tents that are placed throughout the dining halls for students to read while eating.
From the Alabama Media Group:
Alabama parents overwhelmingly support healthier school lunches, poll finds
June 16, 2015
By Amy Yurkanin
An overwhelming majority of Alabama parents believe that serving nutritious foods in school is important to prepare children for learning, according to a poll released today by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Most also support standards that require schools to serve fruits or vegetables with meals, to add more whole grains and even reduce salt, according to the survey. Here are the results among voters and parents of public school children:
- 95 percent of voters and 96 percent of parents support the requirement that schools include a serving of fruits or vegetables with every meal.
- 71 percent of voters and 70 percent of parents think schools should provide foods made from whole grains with every meal.
- 73 percent of voters and 69 percent of parents say salt should be limited.
- 67 percent of voters and 64 percent of parents support requiring healthier snack foods.
In 2012, the USDA updated school nutrition standards for the first time in 15 years, in part to combat rising rates of childhood obesity. Obesity rates rise as school-age children get older. In 2011-2012, about 29 percent of Alabama kindergartners were overweight or obese, compared to 38 percent of third graders, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Childhood obesity rates are higher in Alabama than the national average, according to the department, particularly among low-income and minority students.
Despite the controversy that emerged after the new standards went into effect in 2012, parents do not dispute the need for healthier food, said Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids' Safe and Healthful Foods Project at Pew.
"Almost everyone thinks it's important to serve a fruit and vegetable with meals," she said.
The poll results in Alabama mirror the results nationwide, Black said, with even greater support for requirements that schools serve fruits and vegetables with meals.
Hoover City Schools began adopting healthier standards for school meals in 2007, said Melinda Bonner, director of child nutrition for the district.
Most parents have supported efforts to improve the nutrition in school meals, Bonner said. Recently, some schools in the district began serving kale chips and snap peas with hummus.
"I have not had one parent call to tell me they can't believe I was serving snap peas and hummus," Bonner said.
Nutrition changes have met more resistance in other school districts. Officials from Etowah County Schools said they will apply for a waiver from the state to exempt biscuits from the whole grain requirement.
Black said some school districts have been more successful than others in updating their menus. In many districts, students and parents have been very satisfied with the healthier lunches, she said.
"Some districts do a lot more scratch cooking than others," Black said. "Some districts have limitations when it comes to staff training. If people aren't satisfied with the specifics, we need to know how we troubleshoot that."
School lunches have changed dramatically in the last 20 years, Bonner said. Hoover City Schools retired its deep fryers almost two decades ago, and the students who got used to eating a la carte French fries for lunch graduated long ago, she said. Cafeterias have introduced foods like tofu and quinoa at the high school level, she said.
Not all of the lunch changes adopted by the school have been completely embraced by local parents. In 2014, Hoover City Schools adopted Meatless Mondays, and stopped serving meat during breakfast and lunch for the entire school year. Some parents objected because they thought the change was motivated by politics, Bonner said.
"When I was looking at my invoices, kids were choosing cheese pizza over pepperoni," she said.
The district reintroduced meat on Monday this year, but meatless options are still available for students who prefer to eat vegetarian.
Lunch participation in Hoover has slipped just a little since 2012, from 62 to 59 percent, Bonner said. While fewer students are buying full meals at school, more are purchasing food, whether it is Chobani yogurt, Sabra hummus or prepackaged salads, Bonner said.
In elementary schools, nutrition staff members have gone into elementary classrooms to conduct taste tests with younger students.
"If we're just standing behind the serving line, and they've never had a snap pea in their life, or a beet, they're not going to take that," Bonner said. "We have to get out there and let them try it."