Monday was the first "Meatless Monday" at Foothill High School. It's part of a broader program going on across the Pleasanton Unified School District after they were approached by the Humane Society of the United States and urged to focus less on animal products and more on a plant-based diet.
"We are going to offer all-vegetarian, non-meat items in the hopes to elevate the nutrition awareness of the students, giving them the opportunity to have better choices and help us address the diversity of the community as well," explained Director of Nutrition Services Frank Castro. Students will be served what Castro calls comfort food: macaroni and cheese, whole-grain pastas, and a potato bar, in addition to a salad bar. Eventually, the goal is to integrate diverse options like Mediterranean foods for example.
Atoosa Yekan, whose daughter is a sophomore, moved to Pleasanton 17 years ago and she's glad to hear of the school district's new effort. "I think it's a good idea personally, because the meat that they provide is full of antibiotics and hormones and at home, I try to give a better quality food. Every day meat is not healthy in my opinion, for kids," she said.
Out of the 1,000 students the cafeteria serves on a daily basis, junior Jacob Richey isn't one of them. He's a vegetarian and says up until this point, there weren't many options for him. "I looked into the effects of the meat we produce and essentially learned that for the amount of meat that we produce, the amount of energy it takes up, in addition to the fact that it's not even good for us," he said. In addition to the health and environmental benefits of the program, Richey says it'll improve his life each week. "That's one less thing I have to do on Sunday night is make my lunch," he said.
Pleasanton is actually the second school district in the Bay Area to implement the program. Novato Unified School District in Marin was the first.