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Sarah Silverman Promotes Vegetarian School Lunch

By carolyncastiglia |

“I’m writing to you about something that has shocked and offended me.  And trust me when I say it takes a lot to shock and offend me.”  So begins a letter to Congressman George Miller, chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, from comedian Sarah Silverman, one of a slew of celebrities who have signed on to support the Healthy School Meals Act of 2010.

The bill, introduced in March by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), “would reward school districts with additional food aid if they offer most students plant-based vegetarian food choices every day.”  Pretty revolutionary, considering that many schools still offer sloppy joes and meatloaf as a lunchtime treat.  According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, “there are 66 congressional co-sponsors who support this bill.”

The sweeping changes recommended in the bill would start with a pilot program providing select schools with “high-fiber, low-fat vegetarian protein products and nondairy milk options.”  This bill comes at an important time, because congress will soon take up reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act.  According to the government’s School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study, “more than 70 percent of schools serve meals too high in saturated fat to comply with federal dietary guidelines.”

But is America, land of the free and home of McDonald’s, ready for a meatless (or less meat-filled) lunch?  The PCRM thinks so.  “Schools want to serve healthy meals, but they need help from Congress,” says PCRM nutritionist Kathryn Strong, R.D. “The Healthy School Meals Act would give school cafeterias the power to offer more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat plant-based options.”  The PCRM notes that ”a veggie burger, for example, has the same amount of protein as a hamburger.  But while the hamburger has 15 grams of fat, the veggie burger has only 5, and it contains no saturated fat, no cholesterol, fewer calories, and more fiber.”

It’s clear that cafeteria reform, if perhaps not as vegetarian as Polis hopes, is on its way, and that’s good news for our nation’s kids.

Photo: 92Y Tribeca via Flickr

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About carolyncastiglia

carolyncastiglia

carolyncastiglia

Carolyn Castiglia is a New York-based comedian/writer wowing audiences with her stand-up and freestyle rap. She’s appeared in TONY, The NY Post, The Idiot’s Guide to Jokes and Life & Style. You can find Carolyn’s writing elsewhere online at MarieClaire.com and The Huffington Post. Read bio and latest posts → Read Carolyn's latest posts →

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19 thoughts on “Sarah Silverman Promotes Vegetarian School Lunch

  1. Dave, RN says:

    Don’t inflict a vegitarian diet on our kids! Don’t you know that our brains, especially developing brains of kids, NEED fat? Do some research…

  2. andysarah2k says:

    I am in strong support of healthier food for kids, but….have they looked into the differing opinions and research on meat-free products? I would prefer to see healthier, real food and not just industrialized junk packaged as health food. Soy products have a strong effect on the developing body. Even traditional societies who eat soy don’t eat our meat substitute and soy beverage products. I hesitate to get on this bandwagon. Should I? It is a step in the right direction, I guess.

  3. Amanda says:

    Personally, I don’t see why schools just don’t offer a soup, salad, fruit, and sandwich buffet everyday. It would be fairly cheap and easy, they could use fresh ingredients, and there would be plenty of vegetarian options. Why do they need to make a hot entree almost everyday that usually consists of unhealthy hamburgers, hot dogs, nuggets, etc. anyway?

  4. ann05 says:

    How is offering a vegetarian option “inflicting” it upon the other kids? Not to mention that there are plenty of non-meat sources for healthy fats. Further, it is entirely possible to make a veggie burger that doesn’t contain soy (the ones we make are quinoa and ground up veggies, held together with unsweetened peanut butter or sunflower seed butter). At any rate, strange nutritional myths about vegetarianism aside, I ultimately agree with Amanda.

  5. Stephanie says:

    I’m all for it.

  6. Manjari says:

    I agree with Amanda too. The “food” they serve now is disgusting. Something has to change.

  7. Kimber says:

    A lot of people have a protein deficiency which causes a slew of problems including depression, chronic fatigue, etc…this is a very good idea…I mean how much MEAT is in a chicken nugget? Mostly its just filler unless you make them at home with chicken breast.

  8. Bob says:

    Dave: No one is imposing a vegetarian diet on anyone, it’s just making the option available with incentives to do so. One could say that a meat-based diet is imposed on us already!

  9. Kathleen says:

    Go Sarah!! Love her! I agree that we need to make sure kids have access to healthy foods. Research shows that veg foods are extremely healthy. Fruits, veggies, and whole grains can help fight obesity, diabetes, even cancer. Let’s join Sarah in supporting this bill!

  10. JesBelle says:

    It won’t be quinoa and unsweetened peanut butter. It will be government-subsidized industrial soy. Amanda has it right. How about we just offer the little guys some actual food?

  11. e.sim says:

    Comments. Why do so many people automatically think vegetarian food is packaged soy? It is not. Healthy food is fresh food, vegetarian or otherwise. Think food combining. Think lots of healthy oils (as one person suggested that kids brains need fat) that don’t clog your arteries but are good for you. If for nothing else, the alternatives in schools (pre-cooked, deep fried, canned goods) full of additives to preserve is making our country sick. If vegetarian meals are offered, offered being the operative word,
    choices can be made to begin the change to eat healthier and not suffer the consequence of learning bad and unhealthy eating habits.

  12. anon says:

    Nice spelling, Dave. Did someone inflict a vegetarian diet on you? People can get “fat” from a variety of non-meat food and vegetarian does not mean vegan, so they could have eggs and cheese and yogurt, etc. Even so, you can obtain fat and protein from a vegan diet, too. You’re an R.N.? Seriously?

  13. Meghan says:

    And that vegetarian fats are primary omega-6…the human brain is mostly omega-3. Good sources include, pastured meat and wild seafood.

    Yes school meals are atrocious, that’s why you have to option to brown bag it. The school provides food at a very low cost. That’s the point.

  14. ann05 says:

    There are also Omega 3s in walnuts, leafy green vegetables, flax seed, pumpkin seeds, and even soybeans. All vegetable sources.

  15. ftg says:

    when was the last time any who commented ate a school meal? it would be a great thing to check out in advance of giving school lunch a hard time. that in addition to understanding that the reason the food is not to people’s standards is due to the tiny amount of money they give schools to produce the food, the connection of the purchasing power to the commodity food system and the fact that nutritition services are not with in the general school fund. though critical to every child’s academic achievement, nutrition is a not a priority. to the point made here, i am all for a vegetarian option everyday.

  16. Alex Allen says:

    food aids are badly needed by third world countries and we really need to give something to the poor.”**

  17. Tricia says:

    I agree with Alex that food aids are needed by third world countries, but being a vegetarian in high school, i really would like some good vegetarian choices. The salads at our school are like three leaves smothered in cheese and salad dressing, and besides that, there’s no vegetables. Maybe a salad bar and a sandwich bar would be cool?

  18. KevinE says:

    Commentsthe curren school lunch progran in Halifax County, Virginia charges 2.75 for school lunch. While the entree costs 1.75, the school does not allow the Free Linch students to substitute the small chef salad which also retails at 1.75. This just seems silly. While school lucnches are considered a “cheap option”, I send my kids to school each day with grilled meats and veggies with a piece of fresh fruit as dessert for about 2.00. As a former career culinary professional, I know this is more labor intensive, but the costs balance out. All that is lacking is the will… and sometimes will has to be mandated.

  19. KevinE says:

    I should add that my daughter is a vegetarian, and the menu I prepare for her is ALWAYS cheaper.

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