A vegan restaurant has opened in Phoenix, Arizona, and it’s run by children from a local school.
Healthy Roots Cafe is a healthy educational kitchen, staffed by pupils from V.H. Lassen Elementary School, serving locally-sourced plant-based dishes. While Phoenix has a great deal of vegan food on offer, Healthy Roots Cafe is creating a unique experience for the pupils and the community.
Auralia Peru attends the school and at just nine-years-old has been hired as a hostess at Healthy Roots. Along with twenty other students, Peru has her food handler’s license and worked hard to prepare the restaurant for its grand opening. Peru said to the Arizona Republic, “I’m excited for everyone to try the food.”
The relationship between children’s cultures and their food is front and center at Healthy Roots, something that students are encouraged to explore.
Sixteen-year-old Julian Martinez has contributed his mother’s recipe for vegan tamales and is pleased to be making plant-based Mexican food more accessible for the community. Martinez said, “It’s great to see veganism in my culture.”
Supporting the Environment and the Community
Students who work at Healthy Roots Cafe are also able to learn more about the impact of a locally-sourced, plant-based diet on their own health and the environment.
Former elementary school teacher and principle Wann-Ángeles said, “If the scientists are right, we’re in trouble — big trouble. And who’s going to fix it? It’s not going to be me; it’s going to be their generation.”
Healthy Roots Cafe has been supported by The Orchard Learning Centre who provided a $50,000 grant as well as many of the locally grown ingredients used in the cafe.
The restaurant is also part of an ongoing educational partnership with Spaces of Opportunity, an organization working to “enable all South Phoenix families to have affordable access to healthy food, active living and healthy roots of their cultures.”
Veganism in Education
Some schools have gone all the way. Environmentalist Suzy Amis Cameron — the wife of director James Cameron — runs the Muse School, a vegan school in California, which focuses on “passion-based” learning, in addition to core academic subjects. It is solar powered, virtually zero-waste, and serves a completely plant-based lunch program.
In Sweden, Waldorf school Hagaskolan recently transitioned to a 100 percent vegan menu, with options like dairy-free macaroni cheese, Pad Thai, and spring rolls on offer for students.