Starting in September, the Portland Public Schools (PPS)—the public school district in Portland, ME—will upgrade its vegetarian lunch option to a hot vegan entrée starting in September. The decision was made after two students wrote to the district’s food service director asking for better vegetarian options during lunch. In response, the food service team decided to take it one step further and began testing vegan options. Menu items such as pasta and vegetarian bean chili will be introduced next year. Mediterranean hummus pizza, Kung Pao tofu, vegan burgers, lentil Sloppy Joes, and carrot hot dogs are also being considered. On burrito and taco days, the vegan choice will offer beans and rice as a filling instead of beef. Some of the vegan recipes under consideration come from the Forward Food project—an initiative of The Humane Society of the United States—which helps schools, hospitals, and other institutions add plant-based meals to their cafeterias. “We’ll roll it out first at elementary [schools] and see what the more popular items are, and then move them up [to the middle and high schools],” Jane McLucas, PPS Food Service Director, said. In recent years, school districts in cities such as Miami, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and New York have also incorporated vegan lunch initiatives to better serve their students.

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