California Senate Passes Senator Skinner’s SB 1138 to Offer Plant-Based Meal Options in Hospitals, Healthcare Facilities and Prisons
Today, with unanimous support, the California Senate passed Senator Nancy Skinner’s (D-Berkeley) SB 1138, “Ensuring a Plant Based Meal Option,” which would require hospitals, healthcare facilities and prisons to offer “plant-based” meals to people in these institutions.
“When I go to lunch I can choose food that meets my health, ethical or diet choices, but people in a hospital bed or prison often can’t,” said Senator Skinner. “My bill makes sure that those who can’t prepare or buy their own meals have access to a plant based meal.”
Americans have shown a growing interest in low-meat and no-meat diets. A 2014 survey of over 11,000 Americans by the Humane Research Council found that roughly one in ten had tried a vegetarian or vegan diet at some time in their life. A 2017 poll by Truven Health Analytics and National Public Radio found that 33 percent of Americans were interested in decreasing their meat consumption.
But people who are confined to prisons, hospitals or other healthcare facilities aren’t always given the opportunity to choose non-meat options—whether they wish to do so for health, environmental or other reasons. SB 1138 wouldn’t necessitate the creation of extensive new menus, but would instead require that at least one plant-based meal option be made available.
Offering plant-based options in these institutions also gives California a chance to further its climate protection and water conservation goals. A 2014 study in the journal Climatic Change found that vegetarian diets were associated with a 50 percent reduction in food-related greenhouse gas emissions. And a 2013 study by the British Institute of Mechanical Engineers found that tofu production only required about 300 gallons of water per pound and pasta only about 222 gallons, each far less than anima-sourced food.
“Access to nutritious food that meets health or cultural needs is a basic human right,” said Skinner. “SB 1138 makes sure that California hospitals, prisons, and healthcare facilities are respecting that right.”
Senator Nancy Skinner (@NancySkinnerCA) represents the 9th Senate District. She serves as Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee and the Budget Subcommittee on Corrections, Public Safety and the Judiciary.