This website is an online resource to help students, parents, teachers, school officials and concerned citizens bring healthy, plant-based lunch options to their school.
For other great resources, visit the CHOICE Links & Resources page providing a number of excellent programs, resources, and contact info for people working in their communities.
Schools across the country are currently developing their wellness policies, which set goals and objectives for local school district nutrition and physical education standards. Introducing plant-based alternatives in the cafeteria through the wellness policy helps to make choosing healthful options easy and convenient. All community members are welcome to participate.
CHOICE (Citizens for Healthy Options In Children's Education) was launched by a group of concerned parents in 1994.
Nearly half the children in North America will be overweight or obese by 2010—just four years from now—according to a recent report in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity. Since 1980, obesity rates have doubled in children and tripled in adolescents.
Overweight and obese youngsters generally remain so into adulthood, when they become more likely to succumb to diet-related illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, gallbladder disease, and sleep apnea. In fact, type 2 diabetes, which used to be almost unheard of in children and adolescents, has been increasing in recent years, and obesity is largely to blame.
Unfortunately, most school lunches help to establish and reinforce a taste for greasy fare high in saturated fat and cholesterol, such as fried chicken nuggets, pepperoni pizza, cheeseburgers, and French fries. These foods are more likely to lead to obesity and to related health problems.
Don't you think our kids deserve a healthier CHOICE?
The CHOICE program encourages schools to provide good-tasting as well as healthful lunches, emphasizing whole grains, legumes, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. These foods are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and low in saturated fat, which help children to maintain a normal weight.
Most important, perhaps, youngsters learn an appreciation for these nutritious foods when they are still in the process of developing their individual preferences; they are then more likely to eat healthfully as adults and teach their children to do the same.
Here's what's happening!
Center for Ecoliteracy Wellness Policy
PTA Nutrition Committees
The wellbeing of children is a major concern for the National PTA. That's why they encourage their local chapters across the country to form nutrition committees that will work with parents, students, and school officials to ensure students’ health remains a priority. The PTA is very supportive of bringing plant-based alternatives into our schools and is therefore an excellent place to start if you want to make a difference locally. For more information, contact your local PTA or CHOICE.
Statewide resolutions encourage food service personnel to introduce plant-based meals and vegetarian options into school cafeterias. Resolutions have already passed in California, Hawaii, New York, and Florida.
Vegan Burgers Sell Like Hotcakes at Newport Harbor High: This Orange County, CA, school started small with veganism, frying up only
12 meatless burgers in case sales went slowly.
They sold out of the burgers within a few minutes and still had requests coming in, according to the cafeteria manager.
U.S. Kids Getting Hardened Arteries: Children with risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol and diabetes, are showing signs of narrowing and hardening of the arteries, conditions normally associated with adults, a study said.
- Fruits, Vegetables in Schools Increase with New Nutrition Policies: To help combat childhood obesity, school wellness policies have encouraged schools to offer more fruits and vegetables as well as to set nutrition standards for all foods sold in school, including in vending machines, a la carte lines, and school stores. A “large majority” of the nation's 100 largest school districts by enrollment are requiring nutrition education, adding recess and tightening nutrition standards.
- The School Breakfast Market: The school market is pretty saturated as far as lunch goes, but there is a strong demand for breakfast foods. Earlier this month, Kellogg Co. began selling its own breakfast-in-a-box to schools, which includes cereal, a Pop-Tart or graham crackers, and juice. Tyson Foods Inc. is adapting its popular lunchtime chicken nuggets and patties into smaller sizes for breakfast. Scores of other companies also are pitching breakfast items to schools.
- Does Disease Begin in the School Lunch Room? School cafeterias should promote good health in children by replacing the meat, eggs, and dairy products with plant-based foods, which contain no cholesterol and have been shown to reverse heart disease. Researchers have found that a vegetarian diet rich in soy and soluble fiber can reduce cholesterol levels by as much as one-third.
- Check out Earth Voice Food Choice!