New York City Elementary School Cafeteria Goes Completely Vegetarian

There will be no more mystery meat for one Queens, NY school. Flushing’s PS 244, has gone meatless. The school will now serve black beans, red roasted potatoes, falafel and brown rice for lunch.

“I am proud of the students and staff for trailblazing this extraordinary path,” said New York City schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said as he recognized PS 244 for being the first public school in the city to serve all-vegetarian food.

The school administrators noticed that students brought their own vegetarian lunches to school and started serving vegetarian meals three times a week in 2012. Meat was completely removed from its menu in January.

New York City Elementary School Cafeteria Goes Completely Vegetarian

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and student Arianna Francisco have a vegetarian meal together on Tuesday at PS 244.

Since the menu change, many students have asked their mothers to make kidney beans or buy brown rice, said Robert Groff, who co-founded the school and has served as principal for the last two years.

“One of the biggest challenges was getting the right personnel in place,” Groff said. “Our head cook is a vegetarian herself and is also a parent. She has a second grader in the school.”

Preparing vegetarian food is also more time-consuming than simply baking a hamburger.

But Groff said the new menu is part of the school’s effort to encourage healthy lifestyles. “It is about educating their mind, body and character all together.”

“It’s been a really great response from the kids, but they also understand it’s about what is the healthiest option for them,”  Groff told ABCNews.com. “Because we teach them throughout our curriculum to make healthy choices, they understand what is happening and believe in what we’re doing too.”


What do you think of the idea? Should the school also offer meat options?

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  • Kam

    Cut costs? Because of government subsidies the vegetables are more expensive than the meat! Government lunches are consist mostly of the foods that get subsidies, which is why you get a box of milk with every meal, something with corn in it and “meat” that consists of fillers, probably corn. The fruit is probably the only thing that doesn’t have corn in it or is cooked in or with some corn based product. Corn is not a vegetable, it’s a grain and the variety grown in the United States is either high in sugar or high in starch and it’s used to fatten cows. Yet we have no problem feeding it to our kids in every bastardized way imaginable. Then we wonder about obesity.

    This schools is P.S.244q, the Active Learning Elementary School. It’s focus is on physical education and healthy eating. 83% of its kids are Asian, both East Asian and South Asian (it’s located in Flushing Queens, a majority Asian neighborhood). 86% of its students pass reading and 92% pass math. Makes the situation different now. We have a school that is actually following through on its committment for a healthy lifestyle and is giving its students a good education on top of that. Meanwhile in the majority Black school….Well all I can say is that I don’t know why Blacks haven’t rioted in the streets for the crime called “education” that Black received. It’s alright, eat the fattening food, get the crummy education while the Asian students get the better deal.

  • mEE

    contrary to what most people think, school breakfasts and lunches (at least in NYC) are already pretty healthy. there was a large overhaul a few years ago. they don’t serve whole milk, only low fat or fat free. they only serve wheat bread and whole grain pasta. every single meal has a serving of fruits and vegetables. even my *ahem* “high need” school in the South Bronx has a salad station. the other day they were eating Kashi cereal for breakfast and herb roasted chicken with jasmine rice and green beans for lunch.

    sure if you get into macros and micros and organic and free range and locally grown they’re gonna come up short. but overall I think they do a pretty good job.

  • Just because it’s vegetarian does not mean it’s healthy. Remember, it’s still cafeteria food we’re talking about.

  • MommieDearest


    “Meat is not the cause of obesity it’s process food full of sugar and salt. Lean meat with plenty of veagatables”

    Exactly! Meat is not the devil- LOL!!!!!

    Also, vegetarian does not automatically translate to mean fit and healthy. I personally know vegetarians who are overweight.

  • Three days meat, two days vegetarian.