San Diego Schools to Go Meatless on Mondays

The school board's vote affects all San Diego Unified elementary and K-8 schools

Meatless Mondays will begin next fall for San Diego Unified elementary schools.

The school board approved a proposal Tuesday night officially removing meat from cafeteria menus one day a week.

The vote affects all San Diego Unified elementary and K-8 schools.

Trustee Scott Barnett disagreed with the blanket policy, especially for poorer students who depend on well-rounded nutrition at school.

“I cannot support this resolution. We need to do more analysis, more study. How are our kids going to be impacted by this?” he asked.

Barnett was clearly outnumbered on the board and in the room. The decision elicited cheers from an audience full of "Meatless Monday" devotees.

The non-vegetarians in the room were disappointed.

“I think they should still be able to choose meat on each day,” said opponent Heather Kinney.

Instead of meals offering meat, Monday’s menus should focus on plant-based foods instead. Some suggested menu ideas are vegetable lasagna, baked potatoes, grilled vegetable paninis or tofu and vegetable stir fry.

The Meatless Mondays campaign began 10 years ago with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and has been adopted at a number of schools nationwide.

The idea behind the campaign is to help Americans cut 15% of their weekly saturated fat intake. Because the primary source of saturated fats are meats and dairy, the Monday Campaign suggests going “meatless” just one day a week to achieve that goal.

The school district says 28-percent of San Diego children are obese or overweight.

Larry Hansen, M.D. a professor at he UCSD School of Medicine told the board he sees the ravages of diseases first-hand.

Hansen said he could only think of 5 reasons to support the campaign, "Heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes and obesity all of which are linked to eating too much meat."

The proposal has stirred up a lot of discussion on the NBC 7 Facebook page.

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