This week, the Council of the District of Columbia voted unanimously to pass legislation that would require District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) to add plant-based meals to its menus. The Healthy Students Amendment would require schools to proactively provide students with vegetarian options. Further, the amendment would require DCPS to serve vegan options upon request from a parent—an option currently only available by providing a doctor’s note. “I’m delighted the Council is listening—not just to us parents but also to the overwhelming evidence in support of plant-based eating, “ Emilie Cassou, a DCPS parent, said. “I look forward to the day I can rely on DCPS to serve our kids 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.” The initiative was spearheaded by coalition Friends of the Earth, which worked with the Oakland Unified School District in California last year to reduce its purchases of animal products by 30 percent. This move resulted in a 23-percent increase in student meal satisfaction, 14-percent reduction in the district’s carbon footprint, and a $42,000 savings in the district’s annual budget. Once the amendment is signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, DCPS will become the first East Coast school district to adopt the Good Food Purchasing Program, an initiative that prioritizes animal welfare and human rights in sourcing ingredients for school meals.
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