NORTH HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES - The food delivery to North Hollywood High has a few extras this year. They're part of a Los Angeles Unified School District pilot program that is providing vegan food options for select schools this fall.
"We're going to have a bean tamale. We're going to have a vegetarian chili that has different types of beans in it," said North Hollywood High Cafeteria Manager Kathy Knight
There will also be a vegan teriyaki burger, a "range-free" burger and Italian "sausage" sandwich. The meat substitutes are soy-based and soy milk is offered. There are also salads, veggie sides, fruit, and bean menu items for those who are soy intolerant.
"We're finding out there are students who are vegan who do not eat meat and this is just another way in which we're trying to make sure we're accommodating all our kiddos," said North Hollywood High School Principal Ricardo Rosales
LAUSD already has meatless Monday and a vegetarian meal daily, but the district felt it was time to offer something to students who want vegan options. It's no easy task, however, sourcing animal free food for the second-largest school district in the country which serves more than 1.5 million meals a year.
"Just because something is vegan doesn't mean it's delicious, so it was a challenge. We have to find something that was vegan but also that kids like," said LAUSD Nutrition Specialist Ivy Marx.
It's the district's job to provide tasty vegan options. It's the students' assignment to provide feedback as a guideline so they know what to offer once the pilot program ends.
There's a big taste-test Thursday with bite-size samples of the vegan items. The pilot program starts Sept. 5 at seven LAUSD high schools and runs through Nov. 17.