The Physicians Committee’s Golden Carrot Award is celebrating its 10th Anniversary! Since 2004, the Golden Carrot Award has acknowledged schools and food service directors who work to create programs that encourage students to eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, and plant-based meals for improved health and disease prevention. Every year, school food service directors submit applications detailing their menus, and Physicians Committee doctors and dietitians declare the winners based on which schools provide the best nutrition environments for students.
I’m excited to announce the 2014 Golden Carrot Award winners:
MUSE School CA, based in Calabasas, Calif.
Desert Garden Montessori School in Phoenix, Ariz.
Lincoln Public School District in Lincoln, Neb.
Over the past decade, the Golden Carrot Award has celebrated dozens of delicious plant-based lunches, Meatless Mondays, school gardens, and an all-vegetarian cafeteria! The Golden Carrot Award predates Let’s Move, the Smart Snacks in Schools program, and even the school soda bans.
While we are excited to see many school menus improve, we need to continue look beyond soda and potato chips to the main culprits of childhood obesity: meat and dairy. Cheese is the top source of saturated fat in the American diet, and a cup of nonfat milk has more sugar than a serving of Frosted Flakes. Milk is also linked to both prostate and ovarian cancers. When it comes to red and processed meat, just one serving per day increases the risk of death from cancer and heart disease. With these risks, it’s hard to believe that some schools still serve pepperoni pizza and ham sandwiches.
But by moving plant-based fare to the center of the tray, we can conquer these statistics by helping students crave delicious disease-fighting foods. Children love fruits and vegetables, when you give them the chance. Carrot coins, filled with nutritious beta-carotene, went as fast as Halloween candy at a recent nutrition lecture with more than 100 students in Montgomery County Public Schools.
After 10 years, what we know for sure is teaching students about preventive nutrition is a community effort. I encourage parents, doctors, and teachers to continue to team up to shape the future health of our next generation.
Fortunately, our Golden Carrot Award winners are leading the way. I’m looking forward to the next 10 years of award applicants and seeing firsthand how more and more schools are shifting toward nutritious, plant-based fare!
Students at Desert Garden Montessori eating lunch.
For information and resources, please visit www.HealthySchoolLunches.org .