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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE October 10, 2006

Doctors Name Healthiest School Lunches in United States

Schools in California, Florida, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Georgia Take Top Honors; Vegetarian Items Available Daily on All Menus

WASHINGTON—“Mystery meat” is losing ground to fruits, vegetables, and low-fat vegetarian meals. It’s National School Lunch Week, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) announces the winners of its 2006 “Golden Carrot Awards” for innovation in school food service. The grand prize went to Irmgard James, food service director at Oak Grove School in Ojai, Calif. Four second-place prizes went to food service professionals in Albuquerque, Atlanta, Morristown, N.J., and Pinellas County, Fla.

PCRM established the Golden Carrot Awards in 2004 to recognize food service professionals doing an exceptional job of improving the healthfulness of school lunches. PCRM looks for programs that encourage kids to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and that offer plenty of vegetarian, low-fat, whole grain, and nondairy options. Children who are raised on a healthy vegetarian diet have a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers compared with those who grow up on an average American diet.

This year’s Golden Carrot winners:

  • Irmgard James won the grand prize for the creative food service program she runs at Oak Grove School in Ojai, Calif. James will win $1,500; the school will receive $3,500. Oak Grove School serves only vegetarian food, and students enjoy fresh fruit platters and a salad bar with raw and steamed vegetables.
  • Gray Miller, food service director for the Pinellas County School District in Florida, won a $500 second prize for making major strides toward improving student health by serving more vegetarian meals and emphasizing fruits and vegetables.
  • Judy Mancici, food service director at the Unity Charter School in Morristown, N.J., won a $500 second prize. The school serves only vegetarian meals, and students participate in planting and harvesting vegetables in the school’s garden.
  • JoAnne DeShields, food service director at Grady High School in Atlanta, won a $500 second prize. Grady High School offers the “Creations Line,” an all-vegetarian lunch line featuring such healthy options as garden burgers, quesadillas with Mexican rice, and vegetarian spaghetti.
  • Laura Gilbert, food service director at Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico, won a $500 second prize for serving up high-fiber, low-fat vegetarian entrées such as portabella fajitas and cheeseless veggie garden pizza.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Patrick Sullivan

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