Florida Schools Put Veggie Burgers on the Menu
School lunch lines across the country are filled with greasy, high-fat cheeseburgers, chicken wings, and pizza. But this past March, PCRM helped Broward County, Fla.—the sixth-largest school district in the country—introduce Gardenburger’s Flame Grilled vegan burger to students at Everglades High School, Driftwood Middle School, and Eagle Point Elementary.
The veggie initiative began with Ashley Capps, a 10th grade student at Everglades High School who wanted more vegetarian options in the lunchroom. To persuade administrators that students would buy meatless meals, she circulated a petition that was signed by more than 100 of her classmates.
PCRM worked with Broward County to explore vegan lunch options that are healthy and taste good. PCRM nutritionists suggested the Gardenburger, and at the request of a Broward County school board member, PCRM helped the district’s food service department roll out the new veggie burger. PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., visited each school to speak to parents and administrators about the healthfulness of vegetarian options.
Three PCRM staff members traveled to Florida to assist with the marketing and taste-testing of the burgers. They gave out more than 3,400 samples of meatless patties topped with ketchup, mustard, and pickles. Students were so excited about trying the new lunch item that PCRM staffers could barely keep their sample trays full. Many supportive teaches also tried samples and agreed to hand out flyers to encourage their students to buy the burger.
Everglades High School, where students have a large food court with 12 choices, sold 100 veggie burgers, and 70 additional students bought lunch that day. The school was so pleased with these results that they sold the Gardenburger every day during March. Driftwood Middle School sold a remarkable 700 veggie burgers. And Eagle Point Elementary, where the veggie burger was competing with a student favorite—cheese pizza—sold about 580 burgers, and 190 more students purchased meals than on a typical day.
Each Gardenburger has 90 calories, 11 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, zero cholesterol, and only 4 grams of fat. Broward County is also planning to offer Garden Chili, rice and beans, and other vegetarian options. If students continue to purchase the veggie burgers, administrators will roll out vegan options to the entire district in the fall.