Elementary schools join 'Meatless Monday' movement

Meatless Mondays

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas -- "Meatless Monday" is just what it sounds like: A day without meat. It's a trend happening across the nation, and Dripping Springs ISD is trying it out -- and cooking up some controversy.

The international campaign encourages everyone to skip eating meat one day a week. Advocates say it can improve people's health and the health of the planet.

On Monday's menu at Rooster Springs Elementary School: cheese pizza, black bean burritos, vegetarian chili, cheese nachos and more.

"The cheese sauce is made with real cheese. It comes from Land O' Lakes, and it actually has a credible value as a protein product," said John Crowley, director of Dripping Springs ISD's Child Nutrition Services.

He said after talking with other school districts, including one in Los Angeles, he decided to give "Meatless Monday" a try.

"With more parents and kids asking for vegetarian choices, we just decided to give it a try in Dripping Springs for a year," Crowley said. "We're definitely not against meat. This is a pilot program we've decided to try this year and see how our kids do with it."

It's happening at the district's three elementary school campuses, and it's getting good reviews from some young critics.

"I think it's pretty good," said 10-year-old Avery. "They used to have a salad bar and I used to eat it every day instead of getting meat."

"Meat is good for you sometimes, but just one day won't harm you," said 9-year-old Gracie.

But "Meatless Monday" is drawing criticism from Texas Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples.

In an Austin American-Statesman editorial, Staples wrote, "restricting children's meal choice to not include meat is irresponsible and has no place in our schools."

He calls the meat-free campaign "an activist movement that seeks to eliminate meat from Americans' diets seven days a week -- tarting with Mondays."

Crowley said Staples is entitled to his opinion.

"In no way are kids going deficient in protein by not having actual meat, fish or poultry products served today," Crowley said. "We hope that we're meeting the parents' and the kids' needs and serving things that they like and things that are healthy."

The district said students can always bring their lunch on Monday if they don't want to take part.

Some campuses in Houston ISD are also trying "Meatless Monday" this school year.


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