School Lunch Will Soon Include Vegetarian Options

MVUSD is introducing vegetarian lunch options to their menu, and the journalism had an opportunity to get a sneak peak.

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Vegetarian and vegan lunch options may finally be available to high school students in the Moreno Valley Unified School District.

After senior Fernanda Ortega wrote about the need for equitable lunches, administration took an interest in what she had to say and decided to put her ideas into action. The whole journalism class was fortunate enough to be able to try out all of the vegetarian food options and give their feedback last Tuesday, January 22 the district’s nutritionist Mr. Craig Pulsipher allowed MVHS’s Journalism class to taste test options.

“I feel privileged just because, um, they could have easily had, like, ASB do it, or maybe like, I don’t know if we have a student council, but them,” senior Angela Munoz said. “But the fact that they chose the journalism students…before everyone else kind of makes me feel good.”

Like Munoz, many of the journalism students felt lucky to be able to try the food and give their opinion on it. Not only were they pleased that their opinions were being valued and their voices being heard, but they were also happy that the school is making steps towards being more inclusive.

“I think the fact that we’ve reached this far, like, the school lunch we all know could be better than it was, so this is just, like, that first step in making it better for everyone and having more options for everyone because not everybody eats the same,” senior Alijah Jenkins stated.

The students who actually are vegetarian and vegan were especially thankful that they may finally have more options to choose from at lunch instead of picking at the few options that they have now.

Ortega mentioned that it is “an honor” to be able to represent the other vegetarians and vegans who “feel like they have to be picking at their food” or “feel weird” for having to bring their own food to school. She also added that it’s nice that these students might finally be able to “feel equal” to their friends.

Though not everyone in the class is vegetarian or vegan, they all thought it was great that steps are being taken in order to meet the needs of every student in school. Some also mentioned that they were excited for vegetarian and vegan lunch options because they know some people at school who do not eat meat but eat school lunch.

Many students are also happy that, along with being meat-free, the new possible lunch options are healthier.

“How do they expect us to, like, do good in school when, like, they don’t even give us… give us, the nutrients to do so?” senior Brianna Plascencia added on the topic of every student needing the right food to give them energy.

The students said that they did not have high expectations because the food was still school lunch. However, all of those who did have some expectations said they were more than just met.

“I wasn’t disappointed at all,” Plascencia said. She mentioned that having healthy meat to taste instead of just greens was “pretty, like, fascinating.” “The burger, that FREAKIN’ SLAPPED. Quote that. It slapped.”

“ I just wanna talk about that veggie burger, like, I just thought it was really good,” senior Natalie Flores said. “That was my favorite thing on the list, like, I’m looking forward, like, … if they do add it i’ll go and eat it.”

In addition to the vegan burger, students were able to try a meatless chicken nugget, a vegetarian meatball, and a grilled cheese sandwich on focaccia bread.

Pulsipher, mentioned that a lot of high schoolers have been requesting vegetarian lunch options, so he has been looking for some stuff for a while. He also stated that he makes a new menu for high schoolers every quarter. So, the district may have vegetarian lunch options available to the students by this April.

“If everybody likes it, then I would also do a taste test with the… the kitchen managers of all the high schools, and, uh, as long as the price fits our budget and they like it and the students like it, then I would usually put in on for one day a week,” Pulsipher stated. “It would be district wide, so every high school would get the… the same options.”

Pulsipher also added that, if everything went over well with getting the options out to high schoolers, he might start testing vegetarian options with the district’s middle schools.

It is important that these options are able to reach beyond high school students, because there are students of all ages who may not be provided with the right kinds of food for their diets.

Natalie Flores added that, when she worked at a pre-school during the summer for the A.S.T.E.R.I.S.K. program, “there was this vegetarian kid and he, like, wouldn’t eat the lunch there, and sometimes his mom would forget to, like, pack his own lunch so he would just, like, sit there and we’d have to give him, like, cheerios or apples… I feel like this is… this would be something he would love.”

However, it is partly the high school students’ responsibility to make sure that vegetarian options are here to stay.

“The big thing with keeping vegetarian products in the schools is that enough people need to get it,” Pulsipher said. “So if, like, only one or two people are choosing the vegetarian option, then it’s hard for us to justify ordering, like, you know, a full case of something that’s not gonna get used up very much. So, tell all your friends to eat vegetarian!”