Meatless Mondays will expand to all New York City public schools later this year, city officials announced today.
The citywide initiative will go into effect in the 2019-2020 school year, at which point all schools will serve a completely vegetarian breakfast and lunch on Mondays.
New York City is launching this program for both health and environmental benefits.
“Cutting back on meat a little will improve New Yorkers’ health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“We’re expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come.”
Meatless Mondays is a public health initiative of The Monday Campaigns Inc., founded in 2003 to encourage Americans to make healthier eating choices at the start of the week.
New York City’s announcement comes after a pilot program in 15 Brooklyn schools in Spring 2018.
New York then introduced the pilot program to schools across the city in late 2018, which was met with positive feedback from students.
“Meatless Mondays are good for our students, communities, and the environment,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza.
“Our 1.1 million students are taking the next step towards healthier, more sustainable lives.”
Meat and dairy consumption has been linked to a number of chronic diseases in addition to causing damage to the environment.
The biggest analysis on the impact of animal agriculture on the environment found that meat provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.
New York City joins a growing list of school systems around the globe taking measures to offer more plant-based options.
In late 2018, some Seattle schools began offering students vegan chicken nuggets.
Israel, which also requires state schools to serve meat-free meals at least once per week, will now be serving students vegan burgers in an attempt to lower childhood obesity rates.
California lawmakers have also proposed legislation that, if passed, would incentivize schools to provide plant-based meals to students.
The Department of Education’s Office of Food and Nutrition Services will meet with New York City students to get qualitative feedback before the menu for fall is finalized.