Starting this month, California’s Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) will no longer serve processed meats, including bacon, deli meat, pepperoni, and hot dogs. “SBUSD is committed to serving our students nutritious foods that will help them learn and grow,” the district’s food service director Nancy Weiss said. “It’s the right thing to do to ensure that our students are getting the highest-quality food. There’s no room for carcinogens on the lunch line.” While SBUSD—which is the first known school district to ban processed meats, according to medical group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)—will continue to serve unprocessed meat, 50 percent of the 2 million meals it serves each year are vegan and a plant-based option is available at every meal, including dishes made with product from vegan brand Hungry Planet. “SBUSD has long been a leader when it comes to serving healthy school food and nutrition education,” PCRM dietitian Maggie Neola, RD, said. “Removing processed meat from the menu and focusing on plant-based alternatives will not only help to reduce students’ cancer risk, but it will also reduce their heart disease, obesity, and diabetes risk in the future and boost performance in the classroom today.” Earlier this year, New York City council members—spearheaded by vegan Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams— introduced an initiative to ban processed meats in all New York City public schools.

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