The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will add vegan lunch options to 35 K-12 schools starting in January. The district first introduced vegan school lunch options as part of a pilot program—spearheaded by LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer, student advocate Lila Copeland, and actress Pamela Anderson—this fall at seven LAUSD high schools. According to local media outlet LA School Report, the response to the pilot program has been overwhelmingly positive. Since the launch of the trial program, schools have sold 31,204 vegan lunch options, which initially included chili, tamales, and soy-based teriyaki burgers. Preliminary data shows that on some days, more than half of all students chose the vegan option. “The data clearly shows that a sufficient number of students desire vegan options in addition to the regular lunch menu,” LAUSD Food Services Director Joseph Vaughn said, revealing he would develop a total of 10 vegan dishes—without impacting school budgets—for the 35 new schools adopting the program. Kiki Tarrant, cafeteria manager at Roosevelt High School (one of the first to launch the vegan initiative), said that the addition of vegan options created excitement among students. “I’ve needed two times what we had,” Tarrant said after selling out of the 500 vegan lunches the school provided. “They are asking for vegan now. Students are paying more attention to what they eat.” Vaughn hopes to eventually expand the vegan menu to all LAUSD schools, which would make the district the first in the country to offer a fully vegan lunch option every day. On the east coast, 1,200 New York public schools now adhere to Meatless Mondays, while several schools—including Brooklyn’s P.S.1—have adopted fully vegetarian menus with the help of vegan Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.
Photo courtesy of LA School Report