School lunches could go meatless on Mondays starting as early as this fall.
The School District of Philadelphia could offer meat-free menu choices such as bean burritos, pasta with marinera sauce, and veggie calzones, according to the Humane League, a national animal advocacy group.
The School Reform Commission, which governs the school district, did not vote on this measure at Thursday's meeting as scheduled.
Beth Wallace-Smith, a nutritionist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said the key is to choose groupings that aren't "loaded with salt and preservatives and they're actually a pretty fresh product."
While it's hard for families as well as the school district to buy and keep fresh veggies, Wallace-Smith advocated for frozen vegetables.
"They're less expensive, they still have really good nutritional content and quality," she said. "And even though they are considered a processed item. … it really preserves the vitamins and minerals in there."
Wallace-Smith added: "Focusing on getting a variety of vegetables, even if they're frozen, into a lot of these meals will make this change worthwhile."
Marquita Toland Holmes, a biology teacher at West Philadelphia Promise Academy, said as a teacher, she doesn't think she would see a difference in student performance if the change went through. But it would show students alternatives.
"And it might trickle down into their families," Holmes said. "One day a week, while we may not see it in the building, but over time, we will maybe see it in the community."
Meatless Mondays is not a new concept in schools.
The initiative started during World War I to preserve rations, and was revved in the early 2000s.
City Council passed a resolution in October advocating for the change.