Four cities in Brazil have committed to adopting completely plant-based menus in their public schools.
The four northeastern cities in the state of Bahia have partnered with Humane Society International in Brazil and the Public Prosecutor Office to offer plant-based meals in their public school cafeterias. They plan transition to a completely plant-based menu by the end of 2019.
The cities involved, Serrinha, Barroca, Teofilandia, and Biritinga, will be among the first school districts to adopt completely plant-based menus, and the new Escola Sustentável, or Sustainable School, policy will affect more than 23 million meals each year.
The March 19 launch of the project saw four days of plant-based culinary for cooks in the participating cities’ schools.
The program’s goals are to reduce the environmental footprint for the schools while improving student health and supporting local farmers who will work with the schools to provide produce for the plant-based meals.
Cutting down on animal-based proteins and increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains has known health benefits from lowing cholesterol and blood pressure to reducing risks of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Program organizers noted that half of Brazil’s population is overweight or obese, including one in three children between the ages of 5 and 9.
Four years ago, the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s dietary guidelines stated:”Opting to consume various types of plant-based foods and a limited consumption of animal products indirectly results in a food system that is more just and less stressful on the environment, animals and biodiversity in general”.
“We applaud the cities of Serrinha, Barroca, Teofilandia, and Biritinga for becoming the world’s first school districts to commit to going 100 percent plant-based. It’s an honor to have worked with city authorities, nutritionists and school cooks on the adoption and implementation of this initiative, and we’re excited to continue working closely with them to ensure the success of this program,” said the Humane Society International in Brazil’s food policy manager, Sandra Lopes.
The program may help to curb Brazil’s current obesity epidemic, and improve health for children in the cities.