The vegan school lunch pilot program that launched at the start of the 2017-2018 school year in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has been so successful this year that the district’s Food Services Division says it’s going to recommend that every school in the district — the second largest school district in the country — increase its vegan offerings.
“Everyone loves the vegan chili,” Carolina Sagrero, a junior on the Roosevelt High School volleyball team told the Los Angeles School Report. “It got me thinking about my diet, and so I’ve tried more of the vegan options. There’s a stereotype that it has less flavor, but it’s not true.”
Like most students, Sagrero isn’t vegan, but also like most students, she wants food that tastes good, fresh, and leaves her feeling full and energized, not sluggish and tired. And it’s the vegan menu options that appear to be winning over students since the pilot program began in September when one school in each of LA’s seven districts were tasked with placing vegan items on the menu.
If the Food Services Division’s recommendations are approved, LAUSD would become the first school district in the nation with vegan options in all of its schools.
The program has even surprised its champions, including Food Services Director Joseph Vaughn, with students now choosing the vegan option about 13 percent of the time.
“Without too much promotion, some vegan menu items have run out quickly because they are so popular, and students have asked for more options, even if they are not vegans,” the Los Angeles School Report notes.
“The data clearly shows that a sufficient number of students desire vegan options in addition to the regular lunch menu,” said Vaughn, who noted that the five rotating vegan menu items were served more than 31,200 times in the first 52 days of school. Now the district will double its offerings to ten vegan items in those schools.
“We are thrilled with the reaction to the pilot and that most of the kids trying the new lunches were not vegan or vegetarian,” said Lila Copeland, who founded the nonprofit Earth Peace Foundation to push for vegan school lunches when she was in the 8th grade.
“We think more kids will now choose a healthy lunch option.”