If you thought Brooklyn was all about Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, think again. New York’s most populous borough has just announced that many of its schoolchildren will be tucking into a Meat Free Monday next year.
Pupils at 15 of Brooklyn’s schools will be launching a trial of MFM’s sister campaign in the states, Meatless Monday, in the spring, meaning all canteen food will be meat free at breakfast and lunch. It’s a great chance to educate young minds about the benefits of a healthy diet, both for them and their planet, and teach young palates just how delicious it can be to eat green.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Brooklyn’s schools chancellor Carmen Fariña and borough president Eric Adams announced the initiative on Monday, underlining the fact that schools are the perfect place to learn lifelong lessons about nutrition and the environment. “Teaching students about nutrition and exposing them to healthy food options from an early age is critical,” said Fariña. “Meatless Monday is one more way in which we are using school meals as a teachable moment to educate students on the importance of making healthy choices.”
Pupils of all age ranges in about 40 schools across New York have already joined Meatless Monday, including public (state-run), private and charter schools, and the Brooklyn announcement was made at a school that serves only meat free meals – every day of the week. PS1, in the borough’s Sunset Park area, is one of only three public schools in New York that don’t serve meat to pupils; the others are Peck Slip School in Manhattan and The Active Learning Elementary School in Queens. Other countries have identified the importance of teaching children about the importance of their food choices too. This autumn pupils at a Berlin school had a week of lessons about veganism, while many other schools across Britain are already part of a growing movement to add Meat Free Monday to the culinary syllabus.
While the schools taking part have yet to be confirmed, they will apparently be participating based on their “interest and ability to incorporate an all-vegetarian menu” – which should mean all them! Each school will receive a customised menu so pupils will know what to look forward to at the start of the week.
It has been a good year for school food in the Big Apple, whose city council put forward a Meatless Monday resolution in 2015. Just last month, the education department rolled out free school lunches, benefiting the 1.1 million new pupils that started school this term and those that follow. Thursdays are also known as “NY Thursdays”, an initiative that means kids to tuck into only locally sourced or produced food.