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Public school offers all vegetarian meals


It's school lunch - like you've never seen before.     An elementary school in New York has traded chicken nuggets and other entrees for an all vegetarian menu. The principal says they're getting interest from other schools across the country.

At first glance - it is like any other school cafeteria - but here at PS 244 in Queens, New York, they're not servin' up mystery meat. In fact, they've dropped meat from their menu all together.
This is the first public school in the country to serve only vegetarian options.

"It was never really initially about the vegetarianism as it was about helping them understand that there is more choices out there," said Principal Bob Groff.

The idea was controversial at first.

"We've had people saying my kids are not vegetarians why do they have to eat vegetarian meals," said mother Michelle Trahan.

But the kids are eating it up.

And this has been the challenge for other schools that have started serving healthier food in their cafeterias. Their options didn't taste quite this good.

When the National School Lunch Program started requiring participating schools to serve lower-calorie meals last year some students revolted at the results.

Some school districts backed out of the program saying they were losing tens of thousands of dollars in food that students refused to eat.

But at PS 244 - the secret to getting students to actually like healthy food isn't just in the recipes.

This is a wrap that has corn and cheese inside. It's in education with weekly classes teaching students about making nutritious choices.

"If we are eating something they'll say mommy is this healthy," Trahan said.

Since the switch to a vegetarian menu this spring the school claims to have fewer students classified as overweight and obese. There are higher test scores and better attendance rates.
But parents and teachers say the true purpose of this health push is to reach kids early.

"Her age right now is when she's developing her taste buds," said father Gen Ohkawa.

They hope will last a lifetime.