NEW YORK — A city public school is one of the first in the nation to adopt an all-vegetarian menu, school officials said Tuesday.
Public School 244, in the Flushing section of Queens, has been serving tofu wraps and vegetarian chili since going all-veggie earlier this year, schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said during a lunchtime visit.
“I am proud of the students and staff for trailblazing this extraordinary path,” Walcott said.
P.S. 244 opened in 2008 and houses just over 400 students in pre-kindergarten through third grade. The school, which wanted to offer the children healthy food options, started serving a vegetarian lunch three times a week and then increased it to four times a week before making the switch to an all-vegetarian menu every day. Since 2009, the school has partnered with the nonprofit New York Coalition for Healthy School Food to develop the healthy menus.
It is the city’s first all-vegetarian public school.
“We discovered early on that our kids were gravitating toward our vegetarian offerings, and we kept expanding the program to meet the demand,” principal Robert Groff said.
Tuesday’s menu included black beans and cheddar quesadillas served with salsa and roasted potatoes.
A staff member at the animal-welfare group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said he believes P.S. 244 may be the first all-vegetarian public elementary school in the nation.
“We think this is a really exciting development,” said Ryan Huling, who coordinates PETA’s work with colleges that serve vegetarian fare. “The school should be commended for providing students with low-fat, nutrient-packed brain food.”
P.S. 244 is a zoned neighborhood school, so students who prefer meat-based meals would not be able to transfer out, nor would vegetarian children at other schools be able to transfer in.