Brooklyn Boro

Mayor’s ‘Meatless Mondays’ to hit public schools citywide

March 11, 2019 Paul Stremple, Special to the Brooklyn Eagle
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the vegetarian program would expand citywide in September. Eagle photo by Paul Stremple

“Meatless Mondays” will come to cafeterias citywide this year after a successful pilot program in Brooklyn, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on March 11.

After joining students from PS 130 at the lunch table for grilled cheese and barbecue baked beans, de Blasio and NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced that all 1,800 New York City public schools would take part in the new program, which will be implemented in September.

“Cutting back on meat a little will improve New Yorkers’ health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We’re expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come.”

The program began at 15 Brooklyn schools in the spring of 2018 before expanding borough-wide. Now, schools across New York City will provide vegetarian lunch menus for students each Monday.

Beyond the health benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle, the mayor also extolled the benefits a cutback on meat consumption has for the environment, reducing greenhouse gases that contribute to “the existential threat of global warming.”

“We're expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come.” Eagle photo by Paul Stremple
“We’re expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come.” Eagle photo by Paul Stremple

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a staunch supporter (and practitioner) of plant-based diets, was also on hand for the announcement. Adams cited studies that showed processed meat to be a carcinogen, a cancer-causing substance, and he warned that ignoring the health implications now would one day appear to be as foolish as once ignoring the dangers of cigarettes.

“If we don’t light up a Marlboro in the morning, then we shouldn’t serve them the food that will have the same effect,” said Adams.

Public Advocate-elect Jumaane Williams, a pescatarian, said that he was impressed by the social justice aspect of the citywide expansion. Now, all schools will be able to make efforts to address the health implications of school lunches, instead of only schools in privileged ZIP codes.

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Though at PS 130, Meatless Monday will be immediately followed by serving BBQ Bacon Burgers on Tuesday, Carranza said the new program was the start of a “progression,” hinting that vegetarian lunch days could expand beyond Monday.

“Never say never,” he said.

With options on offer in the PS 130 cafeteria from grilled cheese and barbecue beans to hummus with vegetables and cheese-and-tomato sandwiches, there were plenty of options for students — even the picky eaters.

The city officials were, in fact, the ones looking for more options. Williams called for the addition of his mother’s lasagna with fried green tomatoes to the menu, while Carranza repeatedly dropped hints about his love for buffalo cauliflower.

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