(CNSNews.com) -- On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that starting in the 2019-20 school year, all New York public schools will offer "Meatless Mondays" in their breakfast and lunch meals to "improve New Yorkers' health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
The hope is "to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come," said the mayor, who has described himself as a democratic socialist. In the 1980s, de Blasio supported the Marxist Sandinistas in Nicaragua against the foreign policy of the Reagan administration.
The "Meatless Mondays" program will offer "all-vegetarian breakfast and lunch menus every Monday," said the mayor's office in a statement. The vegetarian menu was piloted in spring 2018 in 15 Brooklyn public schools, and then was expanded to schools across the city in the fall 2018.
The Department of Education's Office of Food and Nutrition will meet with students to finalize the Mondays menu for next year's kickoff. The new program will affect about 1.1 million public school students in New York City. "Meatless Mondays" are good for the "environment," said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. “Our 1.1 million students are taking the next step towards healthier, more sustainable lives."
This plan will make our "planet healthier,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
New York City Council Member Justin Brannan said, “We are not taking climate change seriously unless we are talking about the astounding role animal agriculture and meat production plays in greenhouse gas emissions. Mitigating the effects of climate change means thinking outside the box and that means looking at the foods we purchase especially when it comes to what we feed our children in public schools."
"We’ve all gotta do our part to protect our planet,” said Brannan. "Expanding Meatless Mondays will not only help raise awareness of reducing meat consumption but it will absolutely make a difference when it comes to the amount of carbon dioxide our city contributes to the atmosphere.”
"It’s noteworthy to point out that if New York City public schools swapped out a beef burger for a plant-based protein once a month, the city would emit 375,000 pounds less of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year," said Andrea Strong, founder of the NYC Healthy School Food Alliance.
In addition to the new "Meatless Mondays" program, the mayor's office noted that N.Y. public schools have "made strides in making cafeterias eco-friendly and sustainable, including compostable plates rather than polystyrene trays, and placing clearly labeled Recycling Stations in every cafeteria. Since the 2011-2012 school year, 761 schools now take part in the City’s Organic Collection program."
"NYC students are ready to take action to fight climate change," said Debby Lee Cohen, executive director of Cafeteria Culture. "Meatless Monday is giant step forward towards the 'Green New Meal.'"
“Reducing our appetite for meat is one of the single biggest ways individuals can reduce their environmental impact on our planet,” said Mark Chambers, director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “Meatless Mondays will introduce hundreds of thousands of young New Yorkers to the idea that small changes in their diet can create larger changes for their health and the health of our planet.”
Council Member Brad Lander said "Meatless Mondays" is "an important way the city can address environmental sustainability."
This will help make our "planet healthier," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.