Lack of Vegan options at CPS

Ashley Ochoa

Chicago Public Schools lunch menu offers a variety of food nutrients such as wheat, meats, vegetables, fruits and milk.

What is the hardest part about being a vegetarian when all your friends are meat eaters? You have less food options to choose from.

Any vegetarian or vegan that attends a Chicago Public School is familiar with the inequality in the Nutrition Support Services and its increasing amount of problems that is has created.

On a daily basis, the most common food options for all students are pizza, chicken patties, chicken nuggets, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, and salads with sliced ham. This creates an inequality amongst food choices because vegetarians usually only have one food option which is cheese pizza. It is true that there are some non-meat meals such as certain pizza’s or Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, however, peanut butter and jelly may not necessarily contain meat, but the jelly is made of gelatin which is made of animal collagen.

The first conflict that a CPS vegetarian deals with is that there are  not enough food options at lunch compared to those for  are meat eaters.

For those of you that are vegan, sorry, you are out of luck, you can’t even eat the school salad because they have ham and egg. You might as well move to a suburban public school where vegans are offered real options.

CPS students are detained from having a nutritious meal when students from nearby suburban schools such as Lyons Township High School or Riverside Brookfield High School are not. Suburban high schools offer vegan meals such as black bean burgers, vegetables and tofu, yet the CPS Nutrition Department doesn’t even offer organic fruits or vegetables.

According to an article on Newsela, When the school lunch lady works with a chef, kids eat their vegetables, 30 million children receive meals at school each day and many of them rely on those meals for as much as half of their calories. When those calories come in the form of junk food, they contribute to the current condition of U.S. school-aged children, nearly one-third of whom are overweight or obese, according to an editorial that accompanies the study.”

This greatly affects me and the majority of PMA students because Phoenix Military Academy has a 95% working class ratio (low income) therefore most  students only rely on the nutrients of a “full meal” from school lunches, however, when vegan students aren’t offered those meals, some students aren’t able to eat anything during the school day.

One of the ways this has affected me as a student involved in several extracurricular activities is that I often  leave school around 5-6pm and arrive home until 7 or 8 pm so by the time I arrive home I usually don’t have time to cook a healthy meal and I end up eating fast, junk food.

CPS can afford to get slushie machines for students to buy during lunch, which are unhealthy but can’t afford to offer vegetarian food for its students.

I am obligated to eat dry, cold yellow cheese on a bun without milk (CPS does not provide an alternative for non-milk drinkers) as my lunch.