Food Curriculum

Introduction to J. Rizza’s
Rochester River School Vegan Lunch Program: A Feasibility Study and Implementation Plan
By: Aaron Frazier

As detailed in the report below, one of the many ways in which RRS will provide its students with an innovative and enriching educational experience is through exposure to the virtues of a vegan lifestyle.  All meals RRS provides its scholars during school hours will be vegan. RRS scholars will assist in sowing, growing, harvesting, and preparing many of the delicious plants they will enjoy using both traditional farming methods as well as novel and fascinating technologies.  Additionally, RRS will instill in its scholars an awareness of, and appreciation for, the health, environmental, and moral virtues of vegan practices.

The health and environmental benefits of vegan living are now well-established thanks to years of research by medical and ecological experts.  The U.S. spends over three trillion dollars on healthcare each year [1] .  Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a leading nutritional biochemist, estimates that if most Americans adopted a whole-foods, plant-based vegan diet, we could cut health care costs by more than 50% [2]. The human consumption of animal flesh is highly correlated with many chronic human diseases including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancers, autoimmune diseases, and diseases of the bone, kidney, eye, and brain [3]. Indeed, the World Health Organization now classifies processed and red meat as carcinogenic [4]. With respect to the environment, animal agribusiness is a major cause of every significant form of environmental damage including air and water pollution, biodiversity loss, erosion, deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions [5], and depletion of fresh water.  Teaching the health and environmental virtues of vegan practices fits perfectly into RRS’s mission of cultivating the next generation to be stewards of their bodies, their communities, and their environment.

There is great pedagogical value to exploring with students age-appropriate philosophical debates surrounding animal ethics.  The children’s enthusiasm for animals will help focus them during these philosophical explorations.  The goal of these explorations is not to indoctrinate students into veganism, but rather to cultivate their critical thinking, logical reasoning, public speaking, research, and persuasive writing skills using the general topic of animal ethics as a springboard.  Students will be encouraged to reach and defend their own conclusions.  Teaching the history of animal ethics debates fits perfectly into RRS’s mission of cultivating the next generation to be lifelong students always challenging themselves and expanding their minds.

RRS’s inclusion of the virtues of vegan living in its groundbreaking culture and curriculum is not without precedent.  The MUSE School in Calabasas, California, the Betty Shabazz International Charter School in Chicago, Illinois, the Berkeley Public School System of Berkeley, California, the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle in Bellevue, Washington, the Valley Forge Middle School in Wayne, Pennsylvania, and the Cambridge Public School System of Cambridge, Massachusetts are all award-winning educational institutions that have successfully integrated vegetarian or vegan values into their culture and curriculum.  RRS will emulate and enhance the practices and achievements of these fine institutions to provide the eager young minds of Rochester a truly transformative and empowering educational opportunity

Rochester River School Vegan Lunch Program: A Feasibility Study and Implementation Plan

By Jeff Rizza, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

What’s the Latest Course in Preschool? Vegan Food

By Leslie Brody, The Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2016 1:47 p.m. ET

Vegan Diets Do Least Environmental Damage

By Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM),  May 10, 2016

A Garden in Every School

By the National Gardening Association

Every School Needs A Garden

By DIY Cozy Home

Expansion of Farm-to-School Programs Depends on Innovation and Collaboration

By Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller


Locally Grown: Farm-to-School Programs in New York State

By Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller

Students at First Vegetarian School Find Better Health and Academic Success

by Naomi Imatome-Yun, Forks Over Knives