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In early 2013, a Queens public school became one of the first in the nation to adopt an all-vegetarian menu and now the students are reaping the benefits of this healthier diet. In April, 2013, P.S. 244 in Flushing announced that they had switched out hot dogs and burgers for tofu wraps, vegetarian chili and other vegetarian fare and this week the school was officially recognized by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, for their efforts at becoming the country’s first public school to serve vegetarian-only meals in its cafeteria. According to the Daily News, there have been many positive changes at the school since they went veg, such as students with longer attention spans, more energy and better academic scores. Bob Groff, principal of the school tells the Daily News, “We believe that [students] achieve better when they have healthier food choices and are educated about those food choices.”

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Even more impressive, Groff notes that while students are allowed to bring packed lunches to school that do contain meat, a full 90% of students opt for the vegetable-rich cafeteria meals. To me, this is amazing and the adults and kids deserve some major kudos. For one thing, many schools give up on healthier diets and go back to serving junk food when kids complain or whine about the new healthier choices. P.S. 244 however has stuck by their choices and it’s paid off with the majority of the kids being on board with healthy food. The new vegetarian menu plan is more than just a diet change. School officials are working hard to make sure kids understand these choices. For example, all students attend weekly nutrition classes that focus on healthy, smart food choices and nowadays if a student is feeling sluggish at the school, they’re allowed “energy breaks” where they can get up for a minute and stretch or be active. P.S. 244 is hands down an excellent example of a school doing something very right. More schools should take notice and try the same.  If you’d like to learn more about healthy, plant-based diets, check out the links below.

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