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Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Carranza, and Brooklyn Borough President Adams Announce Citywide Meatless Mondays

March 11, 2019

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Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, all schools will serve vegetarian menus on Mondays

NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams today announced all New York City public schools will have “Meatless Mondays” beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. The program, which was first piloted in 15 schools in Brooklyn in Spring 2018, will provide students with healthy, all-vegetarian breakfast and lunch menus every Monday.

“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 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. Our students and educators are truly leaders in this movement, and I salute them!”

“I stood beside Mayor de Blasio and then-Chancellor Fariña in 2017 to announce that fifteen schools in Brooklyn were undertaking Meatless Mondays. In less than eighteen months, we can announce that Meatless Mondays has spread to more than one million children at every school across the city, putting us on the path to make our kids, communities, and planet healthier,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “I am grateful to Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza, as well as our incredible parent and student advocates who have made this a reality.  I could not be more energized by our progress and more ready to take on the work ahead.”

“Reducing our appetite for meat is one of the single biggest ways individuals can reduce their environmental impact on our planet,” said Mark Chambers, Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “Meatless Mondays will introduce hundreds of thousands of young New Yorkers to the idea that small changes in their diet can create larger changes for their health and the health of our planet.”

“Meatless Mondays gives our patients – and now every Department of Education student – the option of a healthier meal choice,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals. “I thank Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Carranza and Brooklyn Borough President Adams for championing this healthy choice and allowing our youth the opportunity to add plant-based meals to their diet.”

“Congratulations to Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Carranza, and Brooklyn Borough President Adams for the citywide implementation of Meatless Mondays in our public schools, which contributes to better food and health equity for our students,” said Director of Food Policy Barbara Turk. “Meatless Mondays is one of many positive steps the Department of Education is taking in their broader progress to provide healthy school food, which also includes their leadership in the administration-wide participation of the Good Food Purchasing Program.”

Meatless Mondays is a national movement focused on healthy, environmentally friendly meal options, and it was piloted in 15 Brooklyn schools last year in collaboration with Borough President Eric Adams, who has championed plant-based diets. This fall, the pilot was brought to schools across the City in in order to evaluate student feedback on a broader scale. Through evaluation of participation metrics—which has remained stable—and student feedback, the DOE has decided to officially bring Meatless Mondays citywide for 2019-20. The expansion will be cost-neutral, and the DOE’s Office of Food and Nutrition Services will meet with students to get qualitative feedback before the menu for next fall is finalized.
Meatless Mondays builds on the City’s efforts to provide free, healthy meals to all students.  This initiative will be part of New York City’s Free School Lunch for All, which launched in the 2017-18 school year and provides free, nutritious, healthy breakfast and lunch to all participating New York City schools. In the 2017-18 school year, more than 150 million breakfasts and lunches were served free of charge. Each summer, the DOE provides free breakfast and lunch to any New Yorker under 18 through the Summer Meals program.  Since 2015, New York Thursdays have provided schools with locally sourced or produced food.

“For those who scoff at this notion, I have some simple advice: look at the science. Look at the data. Look at the childhood obesity. Look at pre-diabetes diagnoses. Look at the fact that 65% of American kids age 12-14 shows signs of early cholesterol disease. Then, perhaps you will embrace the fact that we can't keep doing things the same way, including welcoming the idea of Meatless Mondays,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo.

“Learning to eat healthy food is one of the most important lessons our children can gain as part of their education; and access to healthy food is an essential part of our preventative care,” said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi. “As a vegetarian, I always appreciated having viable choices like this, for nutrition.”

“Plant-based diets are healthy and also good for the environment,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair and longtime pescatarian Richard N. Gottfried.  “From child development to chronic disease management, diet and nutrition play a central role in health care.  I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza for their leadership on this issue.”

“I’m excited that Meatless Mondays will officially launch at NYC public schools for the 2019-2020 school year. They’ll help improve the health and wellness of our students and serve as an important way the city can address environmental sustainability,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “PS 130 has already received terrific feedback from its Meatless Mondays pilot program, and I look forward to similar results across the city. Thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio, DOE Chancellor Richard Carranza, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams for advocating for Meatless Mondays for all our kids.

“We are not taking climate change seriously unless we are talking about the astounding role animal agriculture and meat production plays in greenhouse gas emissions. Mitigating the effects of climate change means thinking outside the box and that means looking at the foods we purchase especially when it comes to what we feed our children in public schools. We’ve all gotta do our part to protect our planet,” said Council Member Justin Brannan. “Expanding Meatless Mondays will not only help raise awareness of reducing meat consumption but it will absolutely make a difference when it comes to the amount of carbon dioxide our city contributes to the atmosphere.”

New York City has also made strides in making cafeterias eco-friendly and sustainable, including compostable plates rather than polystyrene trays, and placing clearly labeled Recycling Stations in every cafeteria. Since the 2011-2012 school year, 761 schools now take part in the City’s Organic Collection program. The DOE’s Office of Sustainability supports these schools through training for students and staff on proper sorting of organic waste. Of the 761 schools, 108 are Zero Waste Schools, a partnership with the Department of Sanitation which seeks to divert all recyclable and compostable waste in five years, beginning in 2016. Since launch, 144 tons of organic compostable and recyclable waste have been diverted from landfills.

“The Coalition for Healthy School Food has worked with the Office of Food and Nutrition Services getting plant-based main dish options on school menus since 2008, and together we introduced a vegetarian menu which is available to schools and has been adopted by four schools so far,” says Amie Hamlin, Executive Director of the Coalition for Health School Food. “We congratulate our partner - the Office of Food and Nutrition Services, the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office, the Chancellor’s Office, and the Mayor’s Office for their forward thinking to offer meals that are healthier and also work to reduce climate change.”

"With obesity rates climbing to 1 in 5 kindergarten children in NYC, and oceans heating up 40 percent faster on average than a UN panel estimated five years ago, we are faced with a near catastrophic health and environmental crisis for future generations,” saysAndrea Strong, Founder of the NYC Healthy School Food Alliance. “But the solution is simple—if we move towards a plant-forward diet, we can fight the health crisis and reduce damage to our environment. It’s noteworthy to point out that if New York City public schools swapped out a beef burger for a plant-based protein once a month, the city would emit 375,000 pounds less of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year. I applaud the Mayor’s Office, Chancellor Carranza, and BP Adams for pushing for Meatless Mondays in our schools. This promises to be just the beginning of a very significant shift in the way we feed our children.”

“Meatless Mondays are a healthy step forward for our next generation,” saysNeal Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “Plant-based meals protect students’ health and teach compassion for the environment and those we share it with.”

“The Humane Society of the United States applauds Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Education for introducing delicious plant-based meals to all public school students,” said Brian Shapiro, New York State Director for the HSUS. “Meatless Monday is popular across the country and has now become a significant part of the city’s commitment to promoting healthy, sustainable foods for all students.”

"We are thrilled to see Meatless Monday expanded to every NYC school. All New York City students deserve healthy, equitable, sustainable, and culturally responsive food access and education. Making sure that all students have the same opportunities to enjoy delicious, healthy meals is a great step in that direction," saidPamela Koch, EdD, RD, Executive Director of the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, Program in Nutrition at Teachers College, Columbia University.

"A diet high in fruits and vegetables reduces your risk of obesity and a variety of diet-related diseases," saidCraig Willingham, Deputy Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute. "Moreover, it can play a powerful role in the reduction of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. Meatless Mondays is a great strategy for inspiring eaters to make healthier choices while reducing their environmental footprint."

"NYC students are ready to take action to fight climate change. Meatless Monday is giant step forward towards the 'Green New Meal,'" saidDebby Lee Cohen, Executive Director and Founder of Cafeteria Culture. "Moving away from industrial meat production to more plant based and locally grown food is a great way to reduce climate pollution and improve our health through what we eat. Healthy food equals healthy communities and healthy kids."

“Offering more plant-based options in NYC public schools is an investment in our children’s health today and supports a future with a safer climate,” said NRDC Senior Attorney Margaret Brown. “Meat and other livestock products we eat are responsible for nearly 15 percent of global climate change emissions. The good news is, even small changes in our diets can have a big impact.”

"Meatless Mondays is a fundamentally sound, progressive and foundational building block designed to nourish and nurture our most precious resource on the planet - the children. HIPHOP IS GREEN stands proudly with Mayor De Blasio, Chancellor Carranza and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams in full support of this life affirming and paradigm shifting initiative," saidFred (Doc) Beasley, Founder & Chapter Leader of NYC HIPHOP IS GREEN. "Introducing New York City’s youth to the numerous benefits of plant based living creates a smorgasbord of positive side effects that directly impacts the health and wellness of all sentient beings as well as that of Mother Earth."

"I applaud the Mayor and Chancellor for expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools. This program will not only help children, animals, and the environment. It will also raise awareness about one of the most important and neglected issues of our time: the need to create a more healthful, ethical, and sustainable food system," saidJeff Sebo, Director of the NYU Animal Studies MA Program and co-author of Food, Animals, and the Environment.

“By adopting Meatless Monday across the entire school system, New York City is showcasing how compassionate food choices can benefit people, animals, and the planet,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA president and CEO. “We’re thrilled to see New York join other cities across the country committed to building a healthier and more humane food system.”

"Wellness in the Schools has partnered with the NYC DOE Office of Food and Nutrition Services for 15 years to bring the alternative menu and more healthy and delicious meals to the school lunch line. We have seen many initiatives that put NYC at the forefront of school food reform, and the Meatless Monday initiative is yet another step that will not only improve the health of our NYC youth but will also set a healthy tone for our nation," said Nancy Easton, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Wellness in the Schools.

“The announcement that Mayor de Blasio is expanding Meatless Monday to all New York City public schools marks a major milestone. Through this united effort, New York City’s schools take a leadership role in getting our children on a healthier track, as well as making a positive impact on our environment,” saidSid Lerner, Founder, Meatless Monday Movement.

“Meatless Mondays is a phenomenally healthful way to start the week," saidDr. Robert Ostfeld, director of Preventive Cardiology at Montefiore Health System and associate professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Montefiore's cafeterias were pleased to start Meatless Mondays in 2016, and we applaud New York City for joining this pioneering initiative that will improve the health of over one million students!”

"Through Meatless Mondays, the students in New York are providing a leading example of how global action can be taken by individuals to switch to healthier and plant-based diets that can have beneficial impacts across countries and communities and for achieving climate goals. As we move towards a planet that needs to meet nutrition needs of 10 billion people by 2050, shifting to more conscious decisions about food choices that avoid meat is probably the single biggest way to reduce negative impacts on nature,” saidSatya Tripathi, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Head of UN Environment Programme New York Office.

“Good eating habits start at an early age and are a part of better, lifelong health – in fact, this is the next front in preventive care,” saidDr. Ramon Tallaj, Chairman of the Board of SOMOS Community Care. "The Meatless Monday initiative is an opportunity to explore healthy alternatives for our school meals. Emphasizing whole foods including legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and reducing animal products, fried foods, refined grains, and added sugars has been proven to help improve and reverse chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and hypertension. SOMOS is committed to working with Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carranza to build healthier communities and schools, especially at a time that we are grappling with a citywide childhood obesity crisis.”

“As a provider of nutrition and food science education through Beetbox, I am delighted to see the Meatless Monday’s initiative in action. It’s imperative that children understand, at an early stage, the importance of good nutrition and the connection of food to their overall health and even performance in school. It is my hope that this initiative will inspire more schools and act as a conduit for community engagement and life-long health and wellness for children,” said Shazia Choudri, CEO, Beetbox.

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