PBFA is proud to announce its endorsement of The Healthy Future Students and Earth Pilot Program Act, introduced by Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) and Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D (D-NY). If passed, this bill would create a voluntary grant program for school districts to help schools provide healthier, climate-conscious, and culturally appropriate plant-based entrée options to students.
Currently, very few plant-based entrées are available in public schools because of technical, educational, and financial barriers. Children who require plant-based foods for religious, philosophical, health, or other reasons often have very limited options in their school cafeterias.
Research has consistently shown that plant-based foods can help people maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of diabetes, and protect against many forms of cancer and other diseases. Many of these conditions are present in children. For example, obesity now affects 1 in 5 children and adolescents in the United States.
Improving school nutrition is crucial for addressing racial health disparities because students of color disproportionately rely on school meals as a primary source of nutrition. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 60-80% of African Americans and 50-80% of Hispanic people are unable to process lactose found in dairy products and included in many school meals.
Increasing the availability of plant-based entrees in schools can help reduce food-related GHG emissions. Animal-based foods are often more carbon-intensive than plant-based foods, and studies have shown that we cannot meet the Paris Accord targets without a shift to lower carbon foods.
“The Healthy Future Students and Earth Pilot Program Act will invest in the health of our children and help combat climate change by funding plant-based entrées in schools across the country. I’m proud to champion legislation that would deliver food justice for all and build a greener, healthier future for our kids,” says Representative Velázquez.
PBFA endorses The Healthy Future Students and Earth Pilot Program Act and we thank Reps. Velázquez and Bowman for their leadership.