Doctors Award ‘Golden Carrot’ to Nation’s Healthiest School Lunch Leaders

Share Article

The Active Learning Elementary School in Queens and Deerfield Academy Earn National Awards for Serving Plant-Based Foods to K-12 Students

The salad bar at Solvang Elementary School.

The more plant-based meals we serve our children, the better off they’ll be in the long run. Let’s promote foods that are good for the waistline, good for the heart, and good for the brain.

School cafeterias across the country continue to purge mystery meat for fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—a nonprofit of 10,000 doctors—announces the winners of the 2013 Golden Carrot Awards, which rewards schools for serving healthful plant-based menu options.

The grand prize goes to The Active Learning Elementary School in Queens, N.Y., and Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Mass. The runner-up prize goes to Solvang School District in Solvang, Calif. Honorable mentions go to Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School in Washington and All Saints’ Day School in Carmel, Calif.

The Golden Carrot Awards, established in 2004, recognizes food service teams doing exceptional work to improve the healthfulness of school lunches. The Physicians Committee looks for programs that encourage students to eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and plant-based entrees, such as lentil burgers with fresh garden salads, for improved health and disease prevention.

“The Active Learning Elementary School and Deerfield Academy are taking our nation’s school lunch system by storm,” says registered dietitian Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D. “These schools aren’t just serving healthy lunches. They’re creating student demand for it.”

This year’s Golden Carrot Award winners:

The Active Learning Elementary School (TALES) P.S. 244Q, ties for the grand prize award by dishing out a vegetarian menu to pre-K through 3rd grade elementary school students in Queens, N.Y. The Physicians Committee will give $2,500 to Principal Robert Groff to benefit the school’s vegetarian lunch program. Brooklyn Baked Beans, Falafel Salads, and Malini’s Chickpeas remain popular menu items. Healthful sides include cucumber salad, sweet plantains, and roasted sweet potato wedges. Students can sample new options each month, bring their parents to lunch, and try yoga or running during wellness weeks, which take place each semester. Actress Mayim Bialik joins several athletes, including NFL players Devin and Jason McCourty, and celebrities in congratulating the school on their award.

On behalf of Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Mass., Michael McCarthy, director of food services, receives a $2,500 grand prize to support the academy dining program, which includes a variety of ancient grains, leafy greens, fresh fruits, and plant-based proteins, such as tofu, tempeh, and hummus. Kale and sweet potatoes remain wildly popular with Deerfield’s high school students. Teacher-led discussions about sustainability partner well with daily text messages sent to students to promote new items, including Moroccan Curry and Vegetarian Maple Stew.

Chef Bethany Markee at Solvang Elementary School in Solvang, Calif. receives a $750 runner-up award to benefit the school’s food service program. Markee endorses a community approach, using more than 14,000 pounds of produce from local farmers each year. Markee transforms kale into “green chips,” creates heirloom tomato soup from fresh tomatoes, and serves fresh garden salads each day. She talks to students in the cafeteria and encourages them to try new items, such as vegetable hummus trays. Her farm-to-school approach helps students understand where their food comes from, allows for feedback so she can adapt recipes, and breaks student barriers surrounding healthful food choices.

“The more plant-based meals we serve our children, the better off they’ll be in the long run,” says clinical researcher Neal Barnard, M.D. “Let’s promote foods that are good for the waistline, good for the heart, and good for the brain.”

For more information about the Golden Carrot Awards, or to request an interview with clinical researcher Neal Barnard, M.D., or registered dietitian Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., please contact Jessica Frost at 202-527-7342, or jfrost(at)pcrm(dot)org.

Plant-based quantity recipes are now available at

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print