School cafeterias across the country continue to purge mystery meat for fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—a nonprofit of 10,000 doctors—announces the winners of the 2013 Golden Carrot Awards, which rewards schools for serving healthful plant-based menu options.
The Golden Carrot Awards, established in 2004, recognizes food service teams doing exceptional work to improve the healthfulness of school lunches. The Physicians Committee looks for programs that encourage students to eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and plant-based entrees, such as lentil burgers with fresh garden salads, for improved health and disease prevention.
The Active Learning Elementary School (TALES) P.S. 244Q
Robert Groff, principal
The Active Learning Elementary School (TALES) P.S. 244Q, ties for the grand prize award by dishing out a vegetarian menu to K-3 elementary school students in Queens, N.Y. The Physicians Committee will give $2,500 to principal Robert Groff to benefit the school’s vegetarian lunch program. Brooklyn Baked Beans, Super Hero Spinach Wraps, and Malini’s Chickpeas remain popular menu items. Healthful sides include cucumber salad, sweet plantains, and roasted sweet potato wedges. Students can sample new options each month, bring their parents to lunch, and try yoga or running during wellness weeks, which take place each semester.
Michael McCarthy, director of food services, Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Mass.
Michael McCarthy, director of food services
On behalf of Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Mass., Michael McCarthy, director of food services, receives a $2,500 grand prize to support the academy dining program, which includes a variety of ancient grains, leafy greens, fresh fruits, and plant-based proteins, such as tofu, tempeh, and hummus. Kale and sweet potatoes remain wildly popular with Deerfield’s high school students. Teacher-led discussions about sustainability partner well with daily text messages sent to students to promote new items, including Moroccan Curry and Vegetarian Maple Stew.
Chef Bethany Markee at Solvang Elementary School in Solvang, Calif.
Solvang Elementary School
Bethany Markee, chef
Chef Bethany Markee at Solvang Elementary School in Solvang, Calif., receives a $750 runner-up award to benefit the school’s food service program.
Markee endorses a community approach, using more than 14,000 pounds of produce from local farmers each year. She transforms kale into “green chips,” creates heirloom tomato soup from fresh tomatoes, and serves fresh garden salads each day. She talks to students in the cafeteria and encourages them to try new items, such as vegetable hummus trays. Her farm-to-school approach helps students understand where their food comes from, allows for feedback so she can adapt recipes, and breaks student barriers surrounding healthful food choices.
Markee's success at Solvang School will soon expand to Santa Ynez Valley, which includes nine schools and 4,500 students.
All Saints’ Day School
A vegetarian option is offered daily. Vegan entrees include whole-wheat pasta with marinara sauce, baked potatoes with toppings, black bean and corn chili, vegan pot pie, and veggie burgers. These options are promoted through an online menu ordering service and the weekly newsletter. A partnership with Earthbound Farm provides certified organic fruits and vegetables daily. The school also maintains a small organic garden and offers nutrition education.
Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School
Mundo Verde’s meal options include tofu lasagna and veggie burgers, as well as plenty of raw and cooked vegetables. “The vegan meals were great,” said a parent about the meals served during Mundo Verde’s 2013 summer program. “One day, all the kids got a vegan meal, which was an Indian chickpea curry with flatbread and a plum. The second session was primarily meat analogues: veggie burgers and vegan chicken. My student liked the faux meats best, especially because she often had the vegan version of the 'regular' meal.” Mundo Verde programs also include designing, planting, maintaining, and harvesting an organic garden, and visiting local farms to explore food production and sustainable practices.
Celebs Letters Support 2013 Golden Carrot Award Winners