Vegan School Food Bill Passes California Assembly; On To The Senate! [by Jackie Day]

photo credit: Hans Gutknecht

 

It’s a great day for children’s health, the environment and the animals!

AB 479, the California School Plant-Based Food and Beverage Program passed through the California State Assembly today with a vote tally of 46 in support to 11 opposed.

The bill, authored by Assembly Members Nazarian and Kalra, would establish within the California Department of Education (CDE), incentives for making plant-based food and beverages for students.

Under the bill, schools could receive a small reimbursement for plant-based meals and beverages that are above the baseline offered during the 2018-2019 school year. [Animal products sold in public schools are already heavily subsidized via money given to farmers who grow feed for animals via The Farm Bill.]

The bill, if signed into law, would also allot funding to help teach school staff how to cook and promote plant-based food.

Schools need to do more to promote plant-based foods than they’re already doing; this bill provides the incentive.

For SO many reasons, this bill needs to pass, and I’ve been doing my best to make sure it does! An entire book – and more – could be written on the reasons why plant-based meals belong in schools: health, environment, animals, social justice, the economy; I could go on and on.

I speak on the issue often.

Please note, despite what you may hear in other news outlets, this bill, unfortunately, does not mandate that students have the right to a plant based option.

This bill helps schools offer plant based meals, and my hope is that after seeing successful results, we can ask for the “right” to a plant-based meal next year, just as last year’s CA SB 1139 (which was signed into law) mandates the option of a plant based meal to those in hospitals and prisons.

The bill will now travel to the California State Senate.

Please stay tuned, as the Senate may be more difficult to get through, but with your support, we can do it!

If you’re not sure who your state representative is, here’s a resource that provides an easy way to find them: Find Your California Representative.

If you live in California, you can urge your CA State Senator to support the the bill or thank the CA Assembly Members who already gave it the thumbs UP.

Or, if you live in an area with one of the reps who voted “No” today, feel free to express your disappointment.

Those sadly opposed (booooo!) are: Bigelow, Brough, Chen, Cunningham, Dahle, Fong, Gallagher, Mathis, Melendez, Obernolte, and Patterson.

When I attended the Assembly Appropriations Committee meeting to voice my support, even the California Cattlemen’s Association rep stood up and said they didn’t oppose this bill (shocking, I know!), but just goes to show: These 11 “no” voting CA Assembly Members are REALLY out of touch with what’s going on in the world.

Helloooo?! Just look at the first plant-based IPO, Beyond Meat, that made its debut this month.  Talk about success! Um, yeah.  Get with the times, dudes!

For children’s health, the environment and the animals, increasing access to plant-based foods in schools makes good sense.  Well-nourished kids are usually happier, and often do better in school, too; a win-win for all!

Let’s roll up our sleeves, get this out of the Senate and on to our governor’s desk for signature! The time for vibrant, healthy, fiber-rich, antioxidant-packed school food is now!

Jackie Day, vegan for 30+ years and author of the bestseller The Vegan Way: 21 Days to a Happier, Healthier Plant-Based Lifestyle That Will Transform Your Home, Your Diet, and You (St. Martin’s Press / Macmillan).