Vegan Fridays and Other Plans Eric Adams Has for Dining in NYC

The initiative could be an opportunity to support New York State farmers, Ramos said. School districts that buy at least 30 percent of their food from state producers receive larger refunds from the state; New York City, she said, could learn from Buffalo, where the school district was able to meet that standard within a year of announcing it in 2018. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture said New York City schools have not requested reimbursement under the program; the city’s education department declined to say whether its schools met the 30% standard.

Mr Adams said Vegan Fridays was still ongoing and he wanted to make improvements before deciding whether or not to add more days. “It’s the start of a conversation,” he said. “We’re going to sit down and say, ‘Hey, we’ve been doing this for a month, let’s get together and find out, how can we do this right? “”

Some food activists say the city missed an opportunity to sell a good idea to the public.

“I think before that, more proactive communication would have been helpful in explaining a big change,” said Liz Accles, executive director of Community Food Advocatesan organization that fights poverty and hunger in New York. “So many families depend on food, and if parents, children and school communities don’t know exactly what it is,” she added, “people can go to the worst place.”

It may be more difficult for school district food service directors to offer vegan meals once they have become accustomed to the subsidized food they receive through the United States Department of Agriculture School Food Programwhich includes meat and dairy, said Amie Hamlin, executive director of the Coalition for Healthy School Foodan organization that promotes plant-based meals.

While vegan foods are available through the Foods in Schools program, “schools opt for the foods that would cost the most on the open market,” Ms Hamlin said (although a recent Department of Agriculture report shows that canned applesauce, strawberries and peaches are the most in-demand items for the 2022-23 school year for New York and Long Island). The federal government requires that cafeterias offer milk as part of its National School Lunch and Breakfast program.

Milk has become a new battleground. When Mr. Adams recently pointed out that he would consider a ban over chocolate milk in schools due to its high sugar content, it has been mobbed by dairy farmers and state congressional delegation members who argue that flavored milk is an important source of nutrients for many school children.