Can a vegetarian diet effect student test scores? One New York school says yes!

Photo credit: New York Daily News

Photo credit: New York Daily News

it’s well known that a good breakfast makes a difference in school kids’ ability to focus and learn. But one New York school has taken this further. A public school in Flushing, Queens, New York is the first in the nation to offer a 100 percent vegetarian lunch menu. And they reported recently that students have improved attendance, test scores and energy in the wake of the change.

Public School 244, which has more than 400 students in grades pre-K through 3, changed its lunch menu in January. The school went vegetarian because the plant-based choices were superior to the meat-based ones offered by the city, said Principal Bob Groff.

“We believe that [students] achieve better when they have healthier food choices and are educated about those food choices,” he said.

Students are still allowed to brown bag their lunch but about 90 percent choose to eat the vegetarian fare the school now offers.  Kids also attend weekly nutrition classes where they learn about making smart food choices, said Groff. And when their energy lags, the kids get “energy breaks” that allow them to get up for a minute and be active.

The school created the vegetarian menu with the help of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food. P.S. 244 was recognized last week by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that promotes plant-based diets, for becoming the country’s first public school to serve vegetarian-only meals in its cafeteria.

With test scores down in many schools around the country., it sounds like a new game plan is in order for school lunch menus.

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