Want to know how the Baltimore public schools recently earned the label "most progressive public school district"?
It went veggie! That's right, the 83,000-student district has a new "Meatless Mondays" policy this school year that has drawn praise from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the animal-rights group.
School cafeterias in Baltimore are offering vegetarian lunches every Monday, which may make the city the first large school district in the nation to adopt such a policy. Meatless Mondays is a public-health initiative created by folks at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Not everyone is praising the district, though. Last night, CNN curmudgeon Lou Dobbs made fun of the district, calling the vegetarian menus the "latest example of political correctness in the schools," and suggested that PETA was somehow behind the new policy.
Student health, not saving animals, is the main motivation behind the overhaul of Baltimore's cafeterias, an effort driven by the district's energetic food director, Tony Geraci. He has also created a 33-acre organic garden and has plans to expand the use of locally grown produce and products in school meals.
Here's a brand new commentary on edweek.org that makes the case for more vegetables and locally-grown products in the school cafeteria.
With the release today of the Institute of Medicine's report calling for sweeping changes to school meals to make them more healthful, Baltimore could be ahead of the curve.