Soy in School Lunches

According to the School Nutrition Association’s 2011 School Nutrition Operations Report, 63.8 percent of school districts have schools that offer vegetarian meals, 18.2 percent offer vegan meals.

Growing diversity among student populations and increasing pressure for school meal programs to meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans requires out-of-the-box thinking and experimenting with new types of foods in school cafeterias. Soyfoods, which are rich in the nutrients kids need, offer a way for school food service programs to tackle nutrition while never diminishing taste. Soyfood options for vending machines and á la carte lines allow for a greater variety of products to be offered to students. Soyfoods contain soy protein, which is the only plant protein that is equivalent to meat and dairy protein and provides your body with the same amount of essential amino acids. Soyfoods have the added benefit of being cholesterol free, low in fat, saturated fat, and calories.

Save with kid-friendly soyfoods!

  • Serving up 4 soy nuggets in place of 4 chicken nuggets can save ~80 calories.
  • On the grill try soy veggie burgers rather than regular hamburgers to save ~80 calories – and add 3 grams of fiber – per burger.
  • Fortified soymilk has almost 50 fewer calories than whole milk per serving. Soymilk can also be used to create a creamy, enhanced flavor to existing menu items.
  • Save ~70 calories when you replace a beef hotdog with a soy veggie dog.

A growing number of children have food allergies. Most students who are allergic to peanut butter can enjoy soy nut butter. Most students with milk protein allergy, lactose intolerance, or religious/cultural food practices that prohibit milk consumption can get calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, and high-quality protein from fortified soymilk. Tofu and fortified soymilk have been found to provide comparable amounts of absorbable calcium as cow’s milk. There are some children who have allergies to soy, but reactions are typically quite mild and most children outgrow their allergies by the age of three.

Additional Resources

This section contains resources for your school to start utilizing soyfoods in your cafeteria, vending machines, and á la carte lines. Some success stories of school already using soyfoods in meals are also available. Visit the resources below and above for more information: