160-Year-Old School Debuts Plant-Based Meal Program For Students
Primary school kids eating meals in school cafeteria The school will offer plant-based meals that tie into its curriculum. - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

160-Year-Old School Debuts Plant-Based Meal Program For Students Amid Rising Demand

The Worthing-based school, Our Lady of Sion, said students and teachers alike are enjoying the plant-based program

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3 Minutes Read

Plant Based School Kitchens (PBSK) has just launched its first partnership. The company is believed to be the first UK company to offer plant-based, gluten-free meals for schools.

Our Lady of Sion, a Worthing-based school founded in 1862, teamed up with PBSK to offer a hot plant-based lunch option for students. The “enticing” six-week menu is backed by the Vegan Society.

All of the meals are freshly prepared and cooked at the school. Some offerings are themed lunches that tie into curriculum projects and national focus days.

The plant-based meals are optional; children may still bring their own packed lunch.

It’s part of the school’s efforts to introduce young people to new perspectives and to prepare them for the “real world,” according to headteacher Steven Jeffery.

“This week has seen the launch of the PBSK here in Sion. Its success is evidenced by the number of children opting for the meals and the excited comments from happy eaters!” Jeffery said in a statement. “There has been much anticipation about the start of something very exciting here at Sion.”

“As a place of education working hard to prepare our young people for life in the real world, exploring plant-based meals is another facet of our ever-evolving education here at Sion. Our curriculum also includes discussion of issues such as sustainability, ethical farming, fair trade, and renewable energy.”

chool kids eating food in school cafeteria
Adobe Stock Students learn about ethical farming and sustainability at the Worthing school.

Rising demand for plant-based

It comes as interest in vegan and vegetarian eating surges, especially among younger demographics. In 2019, a poll by Linda McCartney Foods indicated that 70 percent of British children want to see more vegan and veggie meals on their school menu.

The poll included 1,000 children between the ages of eight and 16. It found that 44 percent of school pupils had tried to cut meat from their diet. And, ten percent said they already followed a meat-free lifestyle. 

Parents quizzed by the survey felt their children’s schools needed more options. Eighty-one percent said there are not enough healthy and tasty vegetarian options available.

Plant Based School Kitchens

PBSK was founded by Gary and Anna Hardley, who maintain that meat-free diets can protect the health of young people.

“There is a growing body of evidence that a plant-based diet is one of the healthiest for children to grow up on, aiding academic performance through the provision of nutrient-rich meals,” Gary explained.

The couple hope that their company can change the perception of school dinner catering across the country. And ultimately, to see plant-based diets catered for in all schools and other major establishments.

It’s not the couple’s first business enterprise. They also own Vegan Street Food Company — a Coeliac UK-approved eatery offering international vegan and gluten-free meals in Worthing’s city center.

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