On the third Vegan Friday in public school cafeterias, students at P.S. 143 in Queens were digging in, and had mostly favorable reviews.
“It’s good, I give it a ten out of ten,” one student said.
“It really has taste. I like the frijoles and the rice,” another added.
Among the favorite items, one student named “the platanos.”
The school has a dual language program that extended to its menu, which includes those frijoles, or beans, and platanos, or plantains. There was also salad, lots of fruit and some decidedly non-vegan choices.
In addition to the new vegan fare, schools also offer old standbys like cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, to make sure kids always find something they can eat. And, to comply with federal rules, milk is served.
Still, most plates were plant-based, including the one that Schools Chancellor David Banks cleaned.
“I’m coming back next Friday,” Banks said.
But, not every meal served to kids on Vegan Friday has looked quite as good as the ones served at P.S. 143 while the chancellor — and television cameras — were visiting. Some parents have posted photos of sparse and unappetizing options to social media.
“We had an early roll-out last week, you know, of course you have some schools where maybe it wasn’t quite as good as we would like. And, but it takes a little while to really roll it out and do it well. And we’re committed to really doing that, and making sure every kid has a great lunch every single day,” Banks said.
The P.S. 143 students were all being honored on National No One Eats Alone Day, for showing each other kindness, and their lunch included some yoga, and vegan ice cream for dessert.
But for many of them, the best part was just eating hot lunch in the cafeteria again.
“Our kids had experiences where they weren’t served hot lunch for a while due to the pandemic, and to get a warm, nutritious, meatless meal was very well-received,” Principal Justine Lucas said.