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LA schools could serve up vegan lunch program this fall

Hazel Loarca, 7, drinks her milk in the cafeteria area at Kingsley Elementary School, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in Los Angeles. Many of the students at the school in a low-income neighborhood of Los Angeles eat breakfast and lunch provided by the school. For the nearly 100 enrolled in the afterschool program, another meal is served: supper. The nation's second largest school district is doubling the number of students served dinner, with an eye toward eventually offering it at every school. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/AP
File: Hazel Loarca, 7, drinks her milk in the cafeteria area at Kingsley Elementary School, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in Los Angeles.

At an unspecified number of schools come August, the Los Angeles Unified School District may pilot a vegan meal program, according to LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer.

Zimmer told KPCC he will ask the school board on Tuesday to develop a plan for expanding students’ vegan lunch options. The board is scheduled to vote Tuesday afternoon on the proposal.

 “We have had a demand and when we get a demand like this from our community, we institute a pilot to find out is this something that we really could implement district wide,” he said.

Zimmer, a vegetarian himself, said students deserve access to foods that form lasting healthy habits.

According to his proposal, the World Health Organization, Harvard Medical School, the Physicians Committee and several other national and international health-committees have determined consuming meat and dairy increases the risk for cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

In contrast, plant-based diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and beneficial for the prevention of heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes, Zimmer said.

When LAUSD banned antibiotics and hormones in poultry several years ago, the rest of the county soon followed, according to Zimmer. 

This fall's vegan lunch program will not be more expensive to students, he added.

Correction: A previous version of this story implied that the pilot program had been approved before the vote had actually taken place. KPCC regrets the error.