HR 4108, the Healthy Future Students and Earth Pilot Program Act of 2021
will create a pilot grant program to provide healthy, climate-friendly plant-based meals in our Nation’s public schools.
It would amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to establish a pilot grant program to make grants to school food authorities to provide 100 percent plant-based food and milk options, and for other purposes.
Why help schools serve plant-based options?
Students and their families are increasingly asking for more plant-based options at school. In New York City, all 1,200 schools in our Nation’s largest public school district, have begun to offer hummus and pretzels daily in response to demand for plant-based options – but the district faces barriers to serving a more robust plant-based meal option.
Across the coast in California, a recent analysis found that despite the growing demand from students and efforts from school foodservice operators to scale up healthy, climate-friendly menus, only 4% of entrees in California lunches are plant-based.
What HR4108 will do
This bill seeks to overcome several of the barriers to serving healthy, culturally appropriate, and climate-friendly lunches that schools often face. These include a lack of technical assistance, training, and student nutrition education, as well as cost. Funding can be used for:
- Culinary training and technical assistance for school foodservice operators and staff.
- Procurement costs of plant-based sources of protein and milk from socially disadvantaged producers, local
- producers, and women, veteran, and beginning farmers.
- Marketing and student engagement, such as conducting taste tests and providing nutrition education.
- Additional labor costs incurred in preparing and serving plant-based options.
- Partnering with small to medium-sized plant-based food businesses and producers for professional development and training.
Let’s do this!
Note: Since we first published this call-to-action, nine more reps have signed on! Keep the pressure up!
Step 1: Check if your Rep is already a cosponsor
On the Cosponsors tab of the bill, see if your Representative has already signed on as a cosponsor to the Healthy Future Students and Earth Pilot Program Act of 2021.
If your rep is already a co-sponsor, this is an excellent opportunity to thank them for having signed on … skip to Step 3 below.
Step 2: Craft your email
We highly recommend you write your own email in your own words. That said, here is a letter you are welcome to use as a starting point:
Dear Representative ________,
I’m writing to ask you to please co-sponsor HR 4108, a bill introduced by Representative Velazquez. HR4108 will create a pilot grant program to provide healthy, climate-friendly plant-based meals in our nation’s public schools.
Those children who wish to eat plant-based meals should have that option every day. Whether for health, environmental, or ethical concerns, no child should be made to eat foods they find objectionable.
Studies show that increasing the consumption of plant-based foods has substantial health benefits, including reducing the risk of diabetes, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, maintaining a healthy weight, and protecting against certain forms of cancer and other diseases.
Furthermore, research has shown that we cannot meet the Paris Accord targets without shifting our diets toward more low-carbon foods. Plant-based foods tend to be less carbon-intensive. With 30 million children served lunch daily, the National School Lunch Program represents a crucial opportunity to mitigate food-related greenhouse emissions and environmental impacts.
Lastly, many children in public schools cannot process lactose. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 95% of Asians, 60 to 80% of African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews, 80 to 100% of American Indians, and 50 to 80% of Hispanics are unable to process lactose.
Thank you in advance for considering my request and enlisting your colleagues to do the same.
Tip: make one clear request;
do not tack other issues onto this letter.
If you have multiple requests to make, space them out and send one email for each topic. You want your rep to focus on one communication at a time in order to make sure your request gets tallied properly.
Step 3: Send the request to your Rep
For this exercise, you’re simply sending a letter to your Member of Congress (MoC) in the House of Representatives. Once a sister bill is introduced in the Senate, we’ll post another action alert.