Chartwells K12 Wants Kids to ‘Veg Out’ with New Plant-Forward Lunch Menus and Food Stations in School Cafeterias Across the Country

In the News

As more and more Americans make fruit- and veggie-based options the star of a meal, Chartwells K12’s new culinary concept is right on trend

Today’s students are looking for more than Meatless Mondays when it comes to choosing what they want to eat and in looking at restaurant menus and supermarket shelves across the country, it has never been clearer that plant-based meal options are here to stay. With kids and adults being more mindful of the health of the planet, as well as their own health, Chartwells K12 has introduced its newest culinary concept, “Veg Out,” launching at schools across the nation this fall, including Comal ISD (Texas), MSD of Warren Township (Ind.) and South Whidbey School District (Wash.).

“Whether students are committed to eating plant-based at every meal or are just beginning to enjoy more fruits and vegetables on their plate, we’re providing options for individual tastes across all ages,” said Belinda Oakley, CEO, Chartwells K12. “With Veg Out, we’re ensuring that kids who are vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, or plant-centric can always find what they’re looking for on our cafeteria menus.”

In surveying school-aged students, Chartwells K12 found 1 in 3 rated vegetarian or vegan options extremely or very important when choosing lunch at school. Thirty-seven percent said they would eat school lunch more often if there were more vegetarian and vegan choices.

That intel, along with research that consumer interest in plant-based diets is high*, set the stage for this new signature program that highlights the wide variety of plant-based options available on the lunch menu or at a dedicated food station. Whether students are interested in limiting their meat intake every day or occasionally, Veg Out features great-tasting recipes and aligns with the priorities recently discussed at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases by 2030.

“With Gen Z students, it’s all about eating better for the planet, so we are introducing even more vegetarian and vegan options with familiar foods that appeal to all ages,” said Chef Peter Gilhooly, Vice President – Culinary, Chartwells K12. “With Veg Out, students will love the variety of fresh, plant-forward entrees we’ve created, like a sun butter and banana quesadilla and butternut squash mac n’ cheese.”

To develop the flavorful, creative and delicious meals for Veg Out, Chartwells K12 partnered with the CIA Healthy Kids Collaborative and other industry leaders to create over 120 vegan and vegetarian options, including:

  • Watermelon Poke Bowl
  • Tuscan Bean and Basil Penne Salad
  • Tofu Huevos Rancheros
  • Thai Sweet Chili Tofu Bowl
  • Sweet Potato and Spinach Vindaloo

With Chartwells K12, hundreds of schools across the country kicked of the 2022-2023 year with a fun, engaging and reimagined school meal experience. Programs like Veg Out, Global Eats, which highlights the unique ingredients and authentic flavors from cuisines around the world, and Smoothie Station are the newest examples of how Chartwells K12 is ensuring students leave the cafeteria happier and healthier than when they came in.

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