Billie Eilish and Maggie Baird Take to Capitol Hill to Advocate for Plant-Based School Meals

Mother-daughter duo Eilish and Baird joined Representatives Velázquez and Bowman along with climate, racial and health justice groups for a briefing on the Healthy Future Students and Earth Act

WASHINGTON – Today, Grammy Award winning artist Billie Eilish and food justice and climate activist Maggie Baird spoke at a Capitol Hill briefing in support of the Healthy Future Students and Earth Act (H.R.4108). This bill, introduced in June 2021 by Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), would create a pilot grant program to help school districts overcome barriers to serving healthy, climate-friendly meals.

Whether for health, environmental, philosophical, religious, or other reasons, students and their families are increasingly asking for more plant-based options at school. Most schools, however, are struggling to meet that demand due in part to policy barriers that favor animal-based foods. By providing schools with the resources they need to serve healthy, plant-based meal options, the Healthy Future Students and Earth Act will help to alleviate food insecurity, improve health and educational outcomes for our children, and fight climate change. 

“I’m proud to advocate for this legislation that will help to fight climate change, combat food insecurity, and promote health equity,” said Billie Eilish, Grammy Award winning artist, songwriter, and activist.  

“Providing nourishing, plant-based school meals is crucial to improving the health of our kids and protecting the planet that they will inherit from us,” said Maggie Baird, founder of Support and Feed, a plant-based food justice organization. “With climate catastrophe looming and racial health disparities worsening, Congress must prioritize passing the Healthy Future Students and Earth Act.”

Eilish and Baird are committed advocates for food justice and believe that everyone has a right to healthy, plant-based food. Eilish was the executive producer of the film, They Are Trying to Kill Us, about the intersections of food, disease, institutional racism, and poverty. Baird is the founder of Support and Feed, a non- profit that provides nourishing plant-based meals to people in need.

In addition to the bills’ sponsors, Eilish and Baird, the panel of speakers at the briefing included:

  • Genesis Butler, Founder of Youth Climate Save
  • Tracye McQuirter, Best-selling Author and Public Health Nutritionist
  • Eloísa Trinidad, Chapter President of Hip Hop Is Green and Executive Director of Chilis on Wheels

 

The briefing also featured a new video sharing why students across the country want more plant-based food options at school. The video was created by the coalition supporting the legislation.

“Every child deserves healthy, nutritious, and sustainable meals that respects their choice,” said Representative Velázquez. “The Healthy Future Students and Earth Actwill invest in the health of our children and help combat climate change by funding plant-based entrées in schools across the country. I’m proud to champion legislation that would deliver food justice for all and build a greener, healthier future for our kids.” 

“At the same time as we invest urgently in the transition to renewable energy, we must build sustainable food systems at every level of our society — and our public education system can lead the way,” said Representative Bowman. “I am proud to stand with Rep. Velázquez in introducing this bill, which would advance food justice in marginalized communities, support local farmers of color, and nourish all Americans while fighting the climate crisis.” 

“There is a huge rise in youth wanting to eat more plant-based options either for the animals, their health, the planet, or for all of these reasons,” said Genesis Butler, the 15-year-old founder of Youth Climate Save. “Many are unable to do so though because they do not have access to plant-based meals. Since youth spend much of their time at school, it only makes sense for schools to provide plant-based meals. I urge everyone to support the Healthy Future Students and Earth Act because it will benefit us all.” 

Black women experience the highest rates of chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer, but most of these illnesses can be prevented and often reversed by eating healthy plant-based foods. Ensuring our students have access to healthy, plant-based meals can help instill in them a lifetime of healthy eating habits that will mitigate the devastating impact these pre-existing conditions can have,” said Tracye McQuirter, best-selling author of Ageless Vegan and By Any Greens Necessary and public health nutritionist.

“We must continue to right the historical wrongs of colonization which have led to great disparities in health, food security, and environmental justice, most of which is felt by Black, Indigenous, and students of the Global Majority,” said Eloísa Trinidad, New York City Chapter President for Hip Hop is Green and Executive Director of Chilis on Wheels. “Any student going hungry throughout their school day because the food offered is either not culturally appropriate or doesn’t meet their other needs is unacceptable. Providing proper sustenance through school food is one of the ways in which we can give every student an early chance to succeed. The Healthy Future Students and Earth Act starts to reimagine what empowering our students for a better future looks like.”

The Healthy Future Students and Earth Pilot Program Act presents a quadruple win for student choice, racial equity, student health, and the environment,” said Chloë Waterman, senior program manager at Friends of the Earth U.S, who moderated the briefing panel. “We are grateful to Billie Eilish and Maggie Baird for using their platform to advocate for an equitable, plant-forward school meal program and to Representatives Bowman and Velázquez for their leadership on this important issue.”

Communications contact: Kerry Skiff, [email protected], 202-222-0723

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