Recently, many people have called for healthier school meals. But often overlooked are the real heroes: the school food service providers who, with limited budgets and less-than-ideal nutritional guidelines, are changing things for children.
Dozens of schools across the nation—including Los Angeles Unified School District, Detroit Public Schools, and Baltimore City Public Schools—have introduced Meatless Mondays. Black bean burritos are replacing meats; fruits and veggies are replacing cholesterol-laden mozzarella sticks. Plant-based high-protein options are becoming more commonplace. New York City now boasts the first all-vegetarian school cafeteria. These are tangible signs of progress.
But we still have a long way to go. Childhood obesity remains a critical problem, and what had been thought of as adult conditions—like hypertension and type 2 diabetes—are increasingly commonplace in children. This is why it’s critical to acknowledge the schools and officials who are championing the health of our nation’s youth. For nearly the past decade, the Physicians Committee has been offering the Golden Carrot Award as recognition for individual schools that go above and beyond the guidelines.
If your district is a leader in the school lunch revolution, then I urge you to nominate them for the award at HealthySchoolLunches.org.
Neal Barnard, M.D. is President of Physcians Committe for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) that has been influencing advancements in medicine and science. We advocate for preventive medicine, especially good nutrition, conduct clinical research, and advocate for higher ethical standards in research. Our membership includes 150,000 health care professionals and concerned citizens.
PCRM is a nonprofit 501c3 organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.