California's Healthy School Lunch Resolution (ACR 16)

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Check our list of organizations finding success in advocating for healthy school lunches.

Click here or scroll down to read the entire draft of this resolution.

California's Healthy School Lunch Resolution (ACR 16), asks schools to offer a plant-based lunch option on the daily menu. It was introduced by Assemblyman Joe Nation (D:06) and sponsored by Project Healthy Beginnings (which has since become Project Lean and Green Schools.) Soy Happy® was Communications and Media coordinator for this resolution and was then on the advisory board for a national effort called CHOICE (listed with organizations in the next box.) CHOICE followed up on the resolution by working with school food services and encouraging similar legislative efforts in other states.

This resolution passed in June, 2003 by an overwhelming majority in both the Assembly and the Senate. For the list of official endorsements, please scroll to the next box.

On Oct. 29, 2003 the school board for the Los Angeles Unified School District officialy adopted this resolution!

Thanks go to every concerned citizen and organization who took the time to contact CA Legislators, urging them to vote in favor of this resolution. This is a testament to the power of the community, the effectiveness of raising our voices, and the resolve of our Legislators to help alter the rising epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes and to introduce plant-based foods as a legitimate option in US schools.


16 June : The Senate voted in favor of ACR16, by a vote of 23-8. The Secretary of State will now filing it. Please note that this is a Resolution (versus a bill) so it is a vote of endorsement by the Legislature, and not a mandate by law. From Joe Nation's Office: " it is a very valid statement for a parent to say that "our school district should start thinking about moving to an alternative lunch. I think so, health experts think so, and look - even the Legislature thinks so." We have requested reports back from DHS and CDE by 2008. This means that it is very possible that actual legislation may be introduced in 2008 to give some teeth to this effort, the sooner schools start thinking about changing this on their own, the less pressed for time they'll be come 2008. For people to find this measure, they can simply go to the Assembly's website at - and run a search under "Legislation" for ACR 16. If they click on the most recent version of the bill's text or the most recent analysis, that will be the version passed by the Legislature. To find out when ACR 16 is filed with the Secretary of State, they can go to, click on "Bill Chapters" under the first icon's pull down menu, and then click on the most recent Bill Letter under "2003 Bill Letters"....will probably be Bill Letter #3 when it happens.

12 June : Senate floor votes postponed again. Next session now slated for June 16th. Keep checking in as the dates are obviously never quite firm. Thanks!

9 June : Senate floor votes cancelled. New date set for Thursday, June 12th.

5 June : ACR 16 will be heard on the CA Senate floor on Monday, June 9th. It will be introduced for a vote by Senator Duchenyas. If it passes this vote,it will be officialy endorsed! Be sure to contact your State Senators if you haven't already done so. Let them know that you want this Resolution. (See box above for links to legislators).

21 May : ACR 16 was passed by the State Senate Education Committee by a vote of 8-0.

22 April (Happy Earth Day!): ACR 16 was passed by the State Assembly yesterday! The
total vote count is 66 ayes, 12 nos, 2 abstentions. The noteworthy votes are those Republicans who voted "aye" -- be sure to send them an e-mail or letter thanking them for their support! Next: ACR16 now heads through the appropriate committees of the State Senate (as it is a Concurrent Resolution and requires consent from both the Assembly, where it was introduced, and the Senate).

10 April : The full Assembly vote has been delayed until they reconvene after Spring recess. ACR16 is slated for a vote on Monday, April 21st. Please keep those letters of support coming to both Joe Nation's office and to all Assemblypeople.

2 April: The Assembly Appropriations Committee met today and ACR 16 was passed out on a vote of 23-2. That's 23 yesses, 2 nos (Assembypeople Haynes and Samuellian). Assemblyman Nation presented the measure with representatives from the American Cancer Society, State PTA, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction's office there to speak in support. Attached is a list of current support. If you notice an organization missing, please call them and have them fax a copy of their endorsement letter to Joe Nation's office at: (916) 319-2106. As far as the next step, it's off to the Assembly Floor!

21 March: ACR 16 passed out of the Assembly Education Committee on Consent by a vote of 11-0. "Consent" means that it was unopposed and received unanimous approval from both Democrats and Republicans on the committee. The next stop is the Assembly Appropriations Committee on April 2nd.


ACR 16 Endorsements

As of May 9, 2003.

Project Healthy Beginnings (sponsor)
Action for Animals
American Cancer Society
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
Animal Legislative Action Network
Animal Protection Institute
Dr. Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, Professor and Chief, Division of Epidemiology, University of California, San Diego
Dr. Gerry Boss, Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Diego
Nedim Buyukmihci, Professor of Veterinary Medicine, University Of California, Davis
California Association of Student Councils
California Federation for Animal Legislation
California Federation of Teachers (CFT)
California School Boards Association
California State Parent Teachers Association (PTA)
Center for Informed Food Choices
Chicago Food Educators
Christian Vegetarian Association
Closet Factory
Consumers for Healthy Options in Children's Education
Contra Costa Humane Society
Coronary Health Improvement Project
Dr. Hans Diehl, Chairman, Lifestyle Medicine Institute
EarthSave, Los Angeles
Farm Sanctuary, Inc.
Food Studies Institute
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, New Jersey Department of Family Practices
The Fund for Animals
Dr. Lawrence Hansen, Professor of Pathology and Neurosciences, University of San Diego
Dr. Nancy Harrison, Dept of Pathology, Scripps Memorial Hospital, Chula Vista
Healthforce Nutritionals
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Humane Farming Association
Humane Society of the United States
The International School for Krishna Consciousness
Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe, Co-Authors, Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet
Lifting Education Achievement with Real Nutrition (LEARN)
Dr. John McDougall, Founder and Medical Director, McDougall Wellness Center, Santa Rosa, CA.
Mt. Carmel High School Animal Rights Club
National Humane Education Society
National Resources Defense Council
Native Foods, Inc.
Organic Consumers Association
Dr. Dean Ornish,President and Director, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Sausalito, CA; assistant clinical professor of medicine,School of Medicine, UCSF; attending physician, California Pacific Medical Center
Osteopathic Center for Children
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Dr. Renate Pilz, Associate Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Diego
John Robbins, Author, Diet for a New America & The Food Revolution
Sacramento Vegetarian Society
Seeds for Change
Society for Ethical and Religious Vegetarians
Soy Happy!
Students Against Animal Suffering, University of CA,San Diego
Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O'Connell
Jane Velez-Mitchell, Journalist / Founder Of VegTv.Com
Vegan Action
Kyle Vincent, SongTree Records Recording Artist / Educator with Kids, Protectors of the Environment (K.P.E.)
Viva! USA,International Voice for Animals
We Care Animal Rescue
Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!)
Joy Zakarian, Senior Research Associate, Center for Behavioral Epidemiology and Community Health (C-BEACH), San Diego State University
152 Individual letters from adults, families & teachers
35 Individual letters from students
La Quinta High School Student Petition: 113 student signatures
Multi-Area Student Petition: 39 student signatures

Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 16

Introduced by Assembly Member Nation
January 27, 2003
Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 16—Relative to nutrition.
ACR 16, as introduced, Nation. Nutrition: vegetarian school
This measure would request the appropriate state agencies, including
the state departments of Education, Food and Agriculture, and Health
Services, and the California School Food Service Association to
develop nutritionally sound school lunch menu plans that would
provide daily optional plant-centered vegetarian school lunches and
would state that nutrition educational materials and instruction should
include information about multicultural eating patterns and
vegetarian/vegan eating patterns.
The measure would also request the President of the California
School Food Service Association to make a report to the Legislature by
January 1, 2008.
Fiscal committee: yes.
WHEREAS, The American Academy of Pediatrics, the
American Cancer Society, the American Dietetic Association, the
American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association,
the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the
National Institutes of Health recommend that there be greater
emphasis in the American diet on fruits, vegetables, whole grains,
and legumes with a reduction in consumption of animal foods; and

WHEREAS, Recent studies indicate that more than one-quarter
of California children are overweight or obese and therefore at
higher risk of developing health problems, including heart disease,
diabetes, asthma, and cancer; and
WHEREAS, Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are
generally lower in fat and calories than meat and dairy products,
contain no cholesterol, and promote good health because they
contain fiber and essential nutrients, including vitamins and
minerals, and they also contain phytochemicals and antioxidants
that may provide additional protection to reduce the risk of some
forms of cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood
pressure, and other degenerative diseases; and
WHEREAS, A significant percentage of children who rely on
free or reduced price school lunches are considered ‘‘at risk’’ for
these diet-related degenerative diseases; and
WHEREAS, Diet-related diseases take a disproportionate toll
among ethnic minorities and ethnic minorities also have
dramatically higher rates of lactose intolerance than their
Caucasian peers; and
WHEREAS, A growing number of California school children
either identify themselves as vegetarian or vegan, come from
vegetarian or vegan families, or come from families who avoid
meat and dairy foods for religious or health reasons; and
WHEREAS, Exposure of plant-centered entrees in the school
cafeteria will positively influence children with poor eating habits;
WHEREAS, Children with poor eating habits are at a
disadvantage if no plant-centered school lunch meals are offered
daily in their respective schools; and
WHEREAS, The American Dietetic Association has stated that
it is their position that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are
healthy and nutritionally adequate and that scientific data suggest
positive relationships between vegetarian diets and risk reduction
for several chronic degenerative diseases and conditions,
including obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes
mellitus, and some types of cancer; and
WHEREAS, The State Department of Health Services is
striving to increase public awareness of the importance of eating
five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day with studies
indicating the vast majority of children do not eat the
Recommended Daily Allowance for these foods; and
WHEREAS, Increased consumption of locally grown fruits and
vegetables promotes a sustainable environment; and
WHEREAS, Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are
available through the USDA commodities program; and
WHEREAS, The USDA has made available a newer school
lunch menu planning option called ‘‘Nutrient Standard Menu
Planning,’’ which does not require a meat or meat alternate
component, and which is based on the recognition that most
nutrients may be obtained from a variety of foods and allows for
significantly greater flexibility in menu planning; and
WHEREAS, The USDA 1995 School Meals Initiative suggests
that school lunch programs, in order to provide variety and
encourage consumption and participation should, whenever
possible, offer a selection of menu items and foods from which
pupils may make choices; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate
thereof concurring
, That the appropriate state agencies, including
the state departments of Education, Food and Agriculture, and
Health Services, and the California School Food Service
Association are requested to develop nutritionally sound school
lunch menu plans that would provide daily optional plant-centered
vegetarian school lunches, prepared without meat or dairy
products, in such a way that all pupils are assured nutritionally
balanced diets, regardless of their food preferences and
avoidances, and the diet is phased in over a period of
approximately 4 years; and be it further
Resolved, That the optional plant-centered school lunch entrees
be developed with a similar standard for variety, cycle of repeat,
and availability as meat and dairy options; and be it further
Resolved, That nutrition educational materials and instruction
strive to recognize and include information about multicultural
eating patterns including vegetarian/vegan eating patterns; and be
it further
Resolved, That the President of the California School Food
Service Association is requested to report to the Legislature by
January 1, 2008, on programs made to offer optional vegetarian
school lunches; and be it further
Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies
of this resolution to the Director of Health Services, the President
of the State Board of Food and Agriculture, the President of the
State Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public
Instruction, and the President of the California School Food
Service Association.

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