D.C. Council has voted for broader vegetarian meal options in public schools for children, in a move that is likely to make Washington, D.C. the first state in the U.S. requiring schools to keep meat-free lunch alternatives for students.
If the Healthy Students Amendment Act is signed by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the schools will be obligated to offer daily vegetarian meal choices for students whose parents request it, and doctor’s note will no longer be needed.
The D.C. Council voted in favor of the Act, after some parents pressed for it and brought up the issue at the D.C. School Food Advisory Board.
“I’m delighted the Council is listening—not just to us parents, but also to the overwhelming evidence in support of plant-based eating,” said Emilie Cassou, a parent of the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS).
“I look forward to the day I can rely on DCPS to serve our kid’s cooked food that is minimally processed and plant-based—and, of course, tasty. I have high hopes that DCPS will embrace the Healthy Students Amendment Act with goodwill and creativity,” added Casssou.
Chloë Waterman, a senior food campaigner at Friends of the Earth, called the council vote significant. “Providing students with healthy, vegetarian and plant-based options is not only critical to meeting each students’ ethical, religious or dietary needs — these meals are also healthier and better for the planet,” said Waterman.
Under the Healthy Students Amendment Act, the Good Food Purchasing Program will also be implemented in public schools across D.C., making the District the first state of the nation to include the “values-based” food purchasing policy.
Last year, all 1,200 public schools in New York City decided to keep a vegan lunch option available for students every day. Meatless Monday program was also adopted by 15 schools in Brooklyn.