In response to a petition signed by over 300 students, PAUSD implemented a pilot program starting March 9 to offer more plant-based school lunch options through a bi-monthly specialty bar.
Junior Morgan Greenlaw, one of the students who started the petition, said the hope is the school will offer more options for students’ dietary needs and provide healthier meal options.
“At the beginning, it was a movement that not many people were part of, so it was critical for us to have support before we spoke with Nutrition Services,” Greenlaw said.
Junior Carlota Blanco, another student involved in the movement, said students advocating for more plant-based lunches used various methods to drum up support for their cause.
“We were reaching out to students on campus walking around us, and reaching out to the librarians, who posted it on Schoology,” Blanco said.
Through the students’ efforts, they began working with Nutrition Services to coordinate a new program, and Greenlaw praised the responsiveness of Nutrition Services.
“Nutrition Services has been very willing to adapt based on the feedback that we’ve given them,” Greenlaw said.
Blanco agreed and said she hopes plant-based meals will be more widely available as a lunch option.
“I’m very proud of all the work the campaign has done and how (the administration) has collaborated with us, and I hope that it can transition into something more going up,” Blanco said.
Greenlaw said the program will provide accessibility for students with different dietary and cultural needs. “We’re just trying to figure out how to best make sure that everybody can get the meal that they want,” Greenlaw said.
Blanco said this pilot program can offer options for students looking for healthier, less resource-consuming lunches and urges students to use the specialty bar in order for it to become a recurring option.
She said, “We’re not trying to put pressure on students to feel vegan or to be vegan, but just to help them understand this can help the climate and animals, and it’s pretty easy — all you have to do is get in line for the (specialty) bar.”
Editor’s note: One of the petition organizers is Margot Blanco, a staff writer on The Campanile.