Dallas Schools Go Lean and Green for a Day!

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House Salad and Strawberry, Peach Medley offered on Lean and Green Day
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Fresh fruit, vegetables, and Mediterranean Salad on the serving line

“You are what you eat!” is a notion that implies that to achieve optimal health, we must fuel our bodies with good nutrition.  As a society, we are beginning to adopt this practice as it becomes evident that our eating habits have a significant impact on our overall health.  For many of us, the changes begin at home, but restaurants, grocery stores, and school districts are also striving to provide us with healthier food options.  The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasize sustainable diets, higher consumption of plant-based foods, and lower consumption of animal-based foods.  Aside from the many health benefits, meatless eating patterns are also associated with less environmental impact than the current American diet (health.gov). 

On April 30, 2015, the Dallas Independent School District hosted our first Lean and Green Day.  Looking for a way to introduce students to the “buzzed” about topic of meatless eating, the event featured a plant-based menu packed with nutrients.  Student activities, colorful posters, stickers, and taste testing surveys were all incorporated into the event as a way to promote and introduce Lean and Green to the student population. Cafeteria supervisors across the district worked diligently to learn new recipes and prepare the all new plant-based protein menu, which included four different main entrees; Best Baked Ziti, Enchilada Explosion served with Spanish rice, Chickless Salad Sandwich, and the Greek Mediterranean Salad.  Strawberry Peach Medley, fresh seasonal produce, broccoli florets, and choice of milk were among the other side items students could choose from on the Lean and Green menu (see below).   Dallas ISD hopes to bring awareness to delicious plant-based meals, which can be an alternative to some of the more traditional, animal-based foods which students are accustomed to.  The goal of the movement at Dallas ISD is to increase student consumption of fruits and vegetables, and test new vegetarian/plant-based food recipes. 

The event was also recognized by MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” star, Holland Roden.  Roden, a Dallas native, created a Vine video applauding the student’s for joining the Lean and Green movement on April 30th.

The school district currently offers vegetarian options at lunch daily, however the Lean and Green movement is an initiative which will be repeated quarterly in the upcoming school year.    


Featured menu on Lean and Green Day at Dallas Independent School District

For more resources for featuring fresh vegetables click here!


Stephanie Esposito, RDN, LD, Nutrition Specialist – Food and Child Nutrition Services, Dallas Independent School District 


Heath.gov: Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion- Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee