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Norwalk schools roll out meatless monday

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Article by Stephanie Kim, The Norwalk Hour, May 14, 2018


NORWALK — Eighth-graders Devesh Singh and Will Bonilla were skeptical when they saw samples of organic bean burritos and veggie burgers stationed near the lunch line in the Nathan Hale Middle School cafeteria Monday afternoon.

But their curiosity got the best of them, so they gave the meatless meal options a try.

The result? They both walked out of the lunch line with bean burritos.

“I thought it was going to be plain,” Bonilla said, clutching his burrito with a sheepish smile. “But it tasted like beans and goodness.”

Nathan Hale students and others district-wide have been trying out new vegetarian options since the beginning of May, for a new initiative called “Meatless Monday.”

“This doesn’t mean that there won’t be meat on the menu. It’s in addition to,” said George Kirby, resident district manager through Whitsons Culinary Group. “We’re trying to promote eating healthy, and we’re trying to promote sustainability — that kids at this age can have an impact with their decisions on what they eat.”


Norwalk Public Schools is among more than 95 school districts that have now fully introduced Meatless Monday through Whitsons Culinary Group. Although these schools have already been serving vegetarian entrees in their cafeterias, this initiative attempts to promote and to increase the availability of such options in response to student and parent feedback, Whitsons Chief Operating Officer Kelly Friend said.


Whitsons added about 50 more vegetarian entrees to their recipe database, which now has more than 550 recipes overall, she added.

“We find that if we’re able to help educate students in any capacity on a nutritional level when they’re younger, it promotes healthy eating habits that most of the time stay with them for the rest of their lives,” Friend said. “The first impression a lot of times is, ‘No, I’m not trying it. But it looked great, it looked phenomenal and it tasted it really good.’”

This was the case for Nathan Hale sixth-grader Sean Tagariello when he tried the veggie burger.

“I thought it was really good, despite how I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be more like raw vegetables and dry,” Tagariello” said. “Instead, it was very flavorful and the way it was cooked it all came together.”

Als fans of the veggie burger, sixth-grader Valeria Saldana and her friends were glad to hear Meatless Monday would continue throughout the rest of the year. They even began brainstorming different vegetarian meals they wanted to see on the menu in the coming weeks.

“I think we should keep the little patty ones,” said Marabella Zullo, who tried three veggie burger samples.

“And maybe little salads,” Saldana added.

“With some vegetables that no one would really like so they could try it,” Deliagni Fernandez chimed in. “Like eggplant.”


Link to original article: https://www.thehour.com/news/article/Norwalk-schools-roll-out-Meatless-Monday-12913932.php#photo-15554669