The Principal of Public School 244 in Queens, New York City, has revealed that his pupils now have longer attention spans, are getting better academic scores, and the number of overweight and obese students has dropped by two percent – all since the school went ‘Meat Free’ back in January.
The school made the decision to ‘veg’ its cafeteria as part of a city-wide drive to improve the health of schoolchildren, in collaboration with the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food.
“We believe that [students] achieve better when they have healthier food choices and are educated about those food choices,” said Principal Robert Groff.
Eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables has long been touted as a way of gaining energy as well as the ability to concentrate for longer periods of time. This has become a reality at Public School 244.
“We’ve seen that we have a little bit better focus from the students, their energy levels appear to be higher, there isn’t a visible crash, which sometimes happens after a lunch period,” Groff said.
The elementary school, which has 400 pupils aged 4-9, runs regular food and health classes. There are also “family dinner nights” when parents are invited to sample the meals their children are served, such as braised black beans and roasted tofu.
“The food in their cafeteria is the envy of many,” said Amie Hamlin, Executive Director of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food Coalition. “The children are getting the nutrients their bodies and brains need to function at their optimal levels.”