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Physicians Committee Member Helps San Diego Schools Go Meatless
June 6, 2013

Nutrition education takes place in many forms: in the classroom, at home, and in the community. Larry Hansen, M.D., a professor at the University of San Diego School of Medicine and member of the nonprofit Physicians Committee, leads by example by advocating for Meatless Mondays at the San Diego Unified School District’s Board Meeting this past Tuesday. The school district plans to adopt Meatless Mondays in all elementary and K-8 schools next year. Here is the letter Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee, sent to Superintendent Bill Kowba:

June 6, 2013
San Diego Unified School District
Superintendent Bill Kowba
Board of Education
4100 Normal Street, Room 2231
San Diego, CA 92103

Dear Superintendent Kowba:

As a dietitian, I’m delighted to learn about San Diego Unified School District’s plans to launch Meatless Mondays in elementary schools during the 2013-14 school year. San Diego Food Services Director Gary Petill received an honorable mention in our 2009 Golden Carrot Awards for serving fiber-rich vegetarian options that not only promote health and longevity, but receive popular ratings from San Diego students.

Science shows a healthful vegetarian diet helps people live longer and can prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and various forms of cancer. Research also finds moving from just one serving of vegetables each day to three or four can reduce the risk of cognitive decline by 40 percent. As students prepare for AP exams, spelling bees, and championship games, it only makes sense to offer brain and heart-healthy fuel.

The average American consumes more than 33 pounds of cheese, 200 pounds of meat each year, and nearly 60 pounds of added fats and oils. The good news? Going meatless, even just once a week, can make a big difference. A veggie burger is similar in protein content to a hamburger. But the veggie burger has a third as much fat and contains zero cholesterol, fewer calories, and more fiber.

Right now, one in three children in America will develop diabetes at some point in his or her life; one in three struggles with obesity; and one in five has a cholesterol problem.

Physicians at the nonprofit Physicians Committee, including Larry Hansen, M.D., a professor at the University of San Diego School of Medicine who recently spoke at the San Diego Unified Board Meeting, hope to work with you this month and San Diego schools to implement nutrition programs that can curb childhood obesity, reverse juvenile diabetes, and prevent arteriosclerosis.

I’ve enclosed popular nutrition resources for parents, food service directors, and school principals. Please let me know if you would like the Physicians Committee to create custom meal plans and educational components to advance healthful nutrition for the students of San Diego schools.

Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.
Director of Nutrition Education
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine


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