'Meatless Mondays' coming to Ann Arbor's 21 elementary schools this fall
Beef may be what's for dinner, but it's no longer for school lunch — at least on Mondays.
This fall, Ann Arbor Public Schools elementary pupils will join the ranks of celebrities like Oprah, Jessica Simpson, James Cameron and Robin Roberts and “go meatless” to start the week.
AP file photo
It’s all part of a growing grass-roots movement called “Meatless Mondays.” It was launched in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The movement has gathered a celebrity following, with a number of well-known stars and organizations making the pledge to give up meat one day a week, at least.
According to the official website, the goal is to reduce the country’s meat consumption by 15 percent to improve people’s individual health and the health of the planet.Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman and Theodore Roosevelt “galvanized the nation” with voluntary meatless days during both world wars, the website says.
“Our intention is to revitalize this American tradition,” it states. “ By cutting out meat just once a week, we can improve our health, reduce our carbon footprint and lead the world in the race to reduce climate change.”
Resident Heidi Alward was the catalyst to Meatless Mondays reaching the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
Alward contacted Holland and the district’s food service department last winter to present the idea. She said Holland has been working diligently throughout the past several months on its approval and implementation. The meatless menu had to be cleared through Chartwells, the food service provider for the district, as well.
Holland said as of now, Meatless Mondays will boast yogurt, cheese pizza, whole grain pasta bakes and quesadillas as options.
“I am sure we will come up with more as the school year progresses,” she said. “Many of our students prefer meatless items, and we menu some meatless entrees now I expect we will have a positive response to this initiative.”
The health and environmental benefits were what sold Holland on the concept, she said, adding the department felt it was in the best interest of the entire community to support.
Among the benefits listed on the Meatless Mondays website are:
- Lower consumptions of red and processed meat can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Consuming peas or beans can result in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium, and lower intakes of fat.
- Reduce water usage, as the water needs of livestock are greater than those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef.
Wondering why Monday? The organization said it's because most Americans begin the week on Monday.
"...We move from the freedom of the weekend back to the structure of work or school," the website said. "We set our intentions for the next six days. ... Studies suggest we are more likely to maintain behaviors begun on Monday throughout the week."