ProVeg signs on to support legislation to provide plant-based meals in schools
July 9, 2021
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) and Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D (D-NY) recently introduced the Healthy Future Students and Earth Pilot Act. This bill would create a voluntary grant program for school districts to help schools provide healthier, climate-friendly, and culturally appropriate plant-based meal options to students.
“Every child deserves healthy, nutritious, and sustainable meals that respects their choice,” said Representative Velázquez. “The Healthy Future Students and Earth Pilot Program Act will invest in the health of our children and help combat climate change by funding plant-based entrées in schools across the country. I’m proud to champion legislation that would deliver food justice for all and build a greener, healthier future for our kids.”
The emergence of a novel zoonotic disease is a highly complex process, involving many factors. Yet, there is compelling evidence that certain human activities strongly increase the likelihood of such developments. Three aspects of human behaviour are particularly devastating – all of which have to do with human-animal interactions in the context of food.
“At the same time as we invest urgently in the transition to renewable energy, we must build sustainable food systems at every level of our society — and our public education system can lead the way,” said Representative Bowman. “As usual, our young people understand this best: students and their families have been clamoring for healthy, plant-based, and culturally appropriate meal options at school. I am proud to stand with Rep. Velázquez in introducing this bill, which would advance food justice in marginalized communities, support local farmers of color, and nourish all Americans while fighting the climate crisis.”
We couldn’t live without forests. Covering one third of the earth’s land mass, they’re vital to sustaining life on our planet and slowing down climate change. Forests are key to climate, water, health and livelihoods, yet we’re losing them at an alarming rate due to deforestation – the mass destruction of trees. One of the leading causes of deforestation globally is animal agriculture, which is why a plant-based diet can help.
Along with ProVeg International, over 100 other environmental and social justice groups have signed on to support the important bill. The bill would not only improve the health of our children but also help in the fight against climate change. Research has shown animal-based foods tend to be more carbon-intensive than plant-based foods. The Healthy Future Students Act would foster the development and accessibility to climate-friendly food options in schools on our road to net-zero.
The funds that would be made available through the Healthy Future Students and Earth Pilot Program Act would provide for:
- Culinary training and technical assistance for school foodservice operators and staff
- Procurement costs of plant-based sources of protein and milk from socially disadvantaged producers, local producers, and women, veterans, and beginning farmers
- Marketing and student engagement, such as conducting taste tests and providing nutrition education
- Additional labor costs incurred in preparing and serving plant-based options
- Partnering with small to medium-sized plant-based food businesses and producers for professional development and training
- School districts that serve a high population of food-insecure students will be prioritized under the new pilot program.