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Queens Chronicle

Flushing school has green on the menu

PS 244 first in city with meatless lunch

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Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:49 am, Thu May 9, 2013.

Don’t expect any hot dogs for lunch at PS 244. No chicken tenders either.

The Active Learning Elementary School, at 137-20 Franklin Ave. in Downtown Flushing, is the first school in the United States to offer a vegetarian-only lunch menu beginning Tuesday.

The city Department of Education’s Office of School Food partnered with the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, a nonprofit aimed at bringing more nutritious lunch options to schools statewide, to introduce the meatless menu.

Robert Groff, PS 244’s principal, said the vegetarian-only lunch fits in with the school’s mission and reflects a diet many of the school’s students have anyway.

“We created PS 244 based on a principle of a healthy lifestyle and academic achievement,” he said. “We discovered early on that our kids were gravitating toward our vegetarian offerings, and we kept expanding the program to meet the demand. The vegetarian menu fits right in with our mission and we are thrilled that our students in pre-K all the way up to Grade 3 understand the importance of healthy and nutritious meals.”

The school, which opened in 2008, began offering a vegetarian lunch three times a week and then increased it to four times a week because of its popularity.

The vast majority of the students who attend the school are of Asian descent and many are on vegetarian diets at home.

“I am proud of the students and staff for trailblazing this extraordinary path,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said. “Our school meals program has evolved under the Bloomberg administration to offer dishes that meet our nutritional standards.”

The new menu includes roasted chickpeas, braised black beans with plantains, tofu vegetable wrap with cucumber salad, vegetarian chili served with brown rice, falafel and roasted tofu with Asian sesame sauce.

Tuesday’s lunch, which Walcott attended, included black beans and cheddar quesadillas with salsa and roasted red potatoes.

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