Who: VN Associate Editor Abigail Young, VN Publisher Joseph Connelly, VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland, and VN Editorial Assistant Kailey Harless
What: PCRM’s School Lunch Sound-off
Where: a.Muse Gallery, San Francisco, Calif.
When: August 22, 2009
Why: I was told there’d be vegan tamales.
The Scoop: This was an extra-special Saturday, seeing as I’m generally of the sleep-until-noon variety. I happily put my weekend tradition on hold for an event not to be missed—the School Lunch Sound-Off, presented by the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine. I managed a pre-lunchtime wake-up call with (relative) ease, and made my way to a.Muse Gallery with the rest of the VN crew for what promised to be a fantastic start to my Saturday.
The event, spearheaded by everyone’s favorite Ms. Laura Beck, brought students, parents, and citizens together to discuss PCRM’s Healthy School Lunches campaign, aimed at bringing vegetarian and vegan options to public schools nationwide. To fuel attendees brains, an all-star vegan feast created by local SF talent awaited guests. I’m not ashamed to admit, I was one of the first to hit the serving table.
The front of the serving line—the happiest place on earth
You can’t blame my eagerness—this wasn’t ordinary “free food.” A triple culinary threat brought the party, formed by the Brassica Supperclub gourmands, the elusive SF Vegan Tamales crew, and the always tasty Sugar Beat Sweets. The results? We’re talking two kinds of vegan tamales, fresh fruit salad, savory white and black bean dips, heirloom-tomato bruschetta, and bite-sized cupcakes, including my personal favorite flavor combo, chocolate mint. Maybe I got seconds. You would’ve, too.
A full plate of vegan offerings, including the infamous tamales
The food served as a welcomed bonus, but not the main attraction. Millennium chef Stephanie Roston started off the afternoon’s lecture with a brief history of her experience with kids and healthy eating (conclusion: kids love healthy food!), followed by a talk on nutrition by Susan LaVelle, a family nurse practitioner. The facts and figures about childhood obesity and its resulting health risks, not to mention first-hand accounts of her professional practice, were unsettling. Considering 30.5 million school lunches are served everyday, the cafeteria seems like a great place to initiate healthy change.
The third speaker was former Taxi-star, nutritionista, and best-selling author Marilu Henner. During her passionate speech, Marilu shared her personal vegan history, reaching back more than 30 years, and her motivation as a mother and educated activist for supporting PCRM’s initiative. The word “firecracker” could be heard throughout the room as the perfect descriptive of Marilu. An inspiring force to be reckoned with, she’s spreading a message of health across the country.