032922HAO011481 rSPRINGFIELD – The Senate voted Tuesday to support a measure by State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) to offer plant-based lunch options to students across Illinois.

“Some students may only be able to depend on one meal a day,” said Koehler. “It’s incredibly important for all students to have access to a well-rounded, nutritious meal during the school day that meets their dietary needs.”

Under House Bill 4089, school districts would be required to provide a plant-based school lunch option that complies with federal nutritional standards to any student who submits a prior request.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture encourages the use of fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals and urges schools to develop additional methods to offer the fruits and vegetables to students, and a plant-based lunch option would be one way of doing so.

Plant-based school lunch options would also suffice as Halal options for Muslim students so long as there are no alcohol or alcohol byproducts, such as vanilla extract or other extracts, used in the preparation of the meal.

“Whether a student’s dietary needs are rooted in religious, health-related or other, personal reasons, offering a plant-based meal option would satisfy a variety of requirements,” Koehler said. “Providing a secondary healthy lunch option in our schools is a win all-around.”

Having passed both chambers, the legislation now awaits further action by the governor.