With the approval of Alternate Protein Products (APPs) in the NSLP and with the new nutrient based menu planning, schools are now given the freedom to provide children with meatless, cholesterol-free entrées. Processed food items containing alternative protein products such as vegetarian burgers can now replace 100 percent of the animal protein in the school lunch, provided they meet the USDA guidelines.
Benefits to providing vegetarian entrées:
- Having a daily vegan choice guarantees that children have the option to eat something that is meatless and dairy-free for lunch.
- When schools offer vegan entrées, such as veggie burgers, bean and rice burritos, and veggie chili, on a regular basis, children will be presented with nutritious selections, develop tastes for health-promoting foods, and acquire healthy eating habits that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
- Including a vegetarian entrée daily will help lower the total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol intake of children participating in school lunch.
Barriers to providing vegetarian entrées:
- Because prepared vegetarian foods/alternate protein products are not in the commodity or bonus foods program, and tend to be more expensive than other noncommodity protein foods, many schools decide against incorporating them into their menu plan.
- It takes a health-conscious food service authority to incorporate these low-fat, nutrient-rich, high-fiber foods into a school’s menu plan.
For vegan quantity recipes and information on the availability of vegan foods for food service, see the Resources for Schools section.