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Tell Congress to support plant-based meal options in schools

Every child has a right to healthy, humane, culturally appropriate, and climate-friendly meals at school. Yet very few plant-based entrees are offered at our public schools, and students who want or need these options are often left with nothing to eat.Thanks to an outpouring of support from activists like you, we are one step closer to bringing 100% plant-based meal options to public schools.

Congress recently added provisions to fund 100% plant-based school meal options in the latest Child Nutrition Reauthorization, a critical bill that dictates federal spending on a suite of child nutrition-related programs. This first-of-its-kind provision will provide much-needed financial support, culinary training, and other assistance to school districts to meet the growing demand for plant-based options and support schools in procuring, preparing, and marketing healthy, plant-based options.

Providing healthy, culturally appropriate meals is also a crucial point of intervention to mitigate racial health disparities that emerge early in life. Healthy, plant-forward diets can boost academic performance and address educational inequities.

And since plant-based foods tend to have a lower carbon footprint, these efforts will also help fight climate change. Food production contributes more than one-third of global greenhouse gases, three-quarters of which are attributed to livestock production. With 7 billion school meals served annually in the United States, improving school food is a major opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent diet-related diseases while also reducing the outsized influence of factory farming on our food system.

Students across the country have been taking climate and welfare activism to the cafeteria, asking for plant-based options that have a significantly lower carbon footprint than meat-heavy menus and avoid animal cruelty. But school districts work on a tight budget to provide options that are better for the planet — in part because government subsidies favor intensively farmed animal products.

But unless legislators hear from you, they won’t prioritize funding for plant-based school food. Send your letter NOW to support the children of our country who are demanding healthier, climate-friendly, plant-based food options.

Send this message:

Subject: Please support plant-based foods in schools

Dear Representative,

As your constituent, I am writing to ask you to support the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act and specifically to support Title VI, Sec. 604's provisions creating a new grants program to expand plant-based school food.

Students and their families are increasingly asking for more plant-based options at school for health, environmental, philosophical, religious, and other reasons. But cash-strapped school districts face barriers to providing these options. One recent analysis found that only 4% of entrees in California lunches are plant-based, and most of the plant-based options are nut butter and jelly sandwiches. Moreover, some of the top school lunch items to come out of the USDA Foods program are hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and pizza, which offer poor nutritional value and deprive kids of the fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains they need to be healthy. Fortunately, the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act includes a new pilot program to support school districts in overcoming these barriers.

Studies show that increasing the consumption of plant-based foods has substantial health benefits, including reducing the risk of diabetes, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and protecting against certain forms of cancer. This pilot program will also help fight climate change—a top priority for this generation of students—and address growing animal welfare concerns associated with meat overproduction.

Every child deserves access to healthy, climate-friendly, value-aligned, and culturally appropriate food at school. Please support the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act, including these provisions to promote greater equity and nutrition in our school meal program.

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