Illinois lawmakers have voted to require public schools to offer vegan and vegetarian-friendly lunch options to students under a new law passed yesterday.
State Senator Dave Koehler of Peoria sponsored the legislation to mandate that school districts provide plant-based options to students requesting them. House Bill 4089 requires the lunches to follow federal nutritional requirements to any student who submits a prior request to the district asking for the options. Koehler says the bill is also meant to to accommodate students with certain religious, cultural, or health concerns. He says it also shouldn’t be too big of a burden to districts to offer more healthy food choices: “As a practicing vegetarian, there is not a lot of difference between the cost of food. So, I think this is a good approach, and I think this is not going to affect all schools because you may have students that don’t request this.”
State Senator Jil Tracy of Quincy says that the bill is yet another unfunded state mandate for public schools: “Local control and allowing a school district to function to serve the constituency their students require is a much more reasoned way to go about this.”
The bill previously passed the House on March 4th, 96-7. It passed the Senate yesterday, 42-10. It now heads to the governor’s desk.