February 15


School District 18 Community Education Council Weighs In On Healthy Meal Initiative

February 15, 2022

Move over “Meatless Monday” – “Vegan Friday” in New York City public schools is here!

In light of some culinary and nutritional changes taking over city schools thanks to Mayor Eric Adams, School District 18’s Community Education Council (CEC 18) hosted a diverse conversation about bringing vegan selections to students, grades K-12, on a weekly basis.

The monthly CEC 18 session, held via Zoom on Monday, February 7th, briefly covered ideas behind the plant-based lunch initiative.

Malcolm McDaniel, representing the Mayor’s office, fielded questions about plans to get more students on board with eating natural and sustainable foods.

“The Mayor, who is actually vegan himself, has been a champion for health. He’s all for any efforts that will help our kids keep their cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels,” said McDaniel, who was on Adams’ political team when Adams was Borough President. “The USDA is always changing the content and ingredients in foods that students are served, and our Mayor wants to make sure we continue to cut out grease, sugars and preservatives kids shouldn’t be consuming on a daily basis.”

According to McDaniel, Mayor Adams has been relying on the city’s students to taste-test and survey vegan delicacies and a wide array of clean foods that will satiate them during the course of the school day. Select groups of students were chosen to give feedback on the pilot program and the menu’s varieties.

A formal menu wasn’t provided during the CEC meeting and the current budget/cost of the culinary plan was not revealed. Vegan Fridays already kicked off in many cafeterias – reportedly at over 1,000 NYC schools – but the largest school district in the country is still fine-tuning some of the foods utilized. Of course, students can still bring their own lunch to school if they aren’t keen to indulge in the new lunchroom delights.

Another important update was provided by Superintendent Celeste Douglas, who was equipped with a detailed PowerPoint presentation to reveal yet another slew of amendments to COVID-19 protocols in public schools.

Some of the newest stipulations the Department of Education is implementing pertains to quarantining and isolation.

“They’ve shortened the isolation period for many students, and there’s a new health screening form that started circulating this week,” said Superintendent Douglas, who said face covering policies are still in effect, but the duration of time one has symptoms and tests positive for COVID-19 is constantly changing. Students in 3K and Pre-K still have to isolate for 10 days and should be fever free for 24 hours without the use of medication before returning to school on the 11th day.

Home test kits are still being provided and some students and staff will receive one test kit per week.

Some grades will only have to isolate for five days and others will have to isolate six to 10 days, depending on how may days they are sick with a fever and other symptoms.

The next meeting of CEC 18 is scheduled to take place virtually on Monday, March 7th. For more information and the access code to the Zoom portal, call the District Office at 718-566-6037 or e-mail Administrative Assistant Ann Caesar at cec18@schools.nyc.gov.

Mayor Eric Adams’ representative Malcolm McDaniel, left, fields questions from CEC members and School District 18 Superintendent Celeste Douglas.

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