The Vegetarian Resource Group exhibited at the annual meeting of the American School Food Service Association 12 years ago, and, to be honest, our staff felt nauseated from the smell of fried foods during our attendance. After our usual outreach to trim dietitians and health-conscious natural foods workers, we were also surprised by the ample girth of many attendees.
However, when we displayed at this year’s conference—now the School Nutrition Association—we were happy to note several changes. Some states have mandated that school vending machines contain healthy foods, and there was a plethora of healthy snack products, such as apple wedges, sunflower seeds, and even guava patties. It was interesting to see how many companies marketing bottled water attended, in addition to the manufacturers of fortified juices and innumerable flavors and forms of milk. White Wave, which is owned by a large dairy company, was also there, providing samples of its popular Silk soymilk.
Schools often face several barriers to offering vegetarian and vegan foods, including prohibitive costs and lack of time, preparation space, demand for the products, and support for their efforts. Fortunately, several businesses are helping them overcome these challenges. We’re happy to report that Nature’s Path said their organic cereals were being offered in many school breakfast programs, and the company was selling the product at a competitive price. Likewise, Mon Cuisine, Gardenburger, and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) all make vegetarian chicken nuggets, which are easy for the schools to prepare. The latter two also offer veggie burgers. Mon Cuisine provided conference attendees with samples of falafel, a food consumed by millions around the world but one that most attendees had never seen. Thanks to Mon Cuisine for aiming to expand the repertoire of so many food providers.
Though most school districts seemed interested in inexpensive, easy-to-prepare processed foods, one dietitian in Florida had 53 schools preparing and serving hummus successfully. In a future mailing to food service staff, we’ll share this recipe.
Thank you for your support, which enables The Vegetarian Resource Group, parents, activists, and food companies to take on the long-term task of improving school meals and bringing about a more vegetarian world.
In addition, we want to congratulate volunteer Vegetarian Journal Editor Dina Aronson, RD, who gave birth this past summer. She will take a break from editing to focus on vegetarian child rearing duties. We wish her and her husband much happiness. Thank you also to VRG’s Food Service Advisor Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD, and Chef Ralph Estevez, who assisted at our booth at the School Nutrition Association Conference.
Debra Wasserman & Charles Stahler
Coordinators of The Vegetarian Resource Group
The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone who wishes to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.
Thanks to volunteer Stephanie Schueler for converting this article to HTML.
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