As the new school year approaches, plant-based chicken company Rebellyous Foods expands its reach, with more schools choosing its products. According to the Seattle company, this traction is part of a growing school movement in the USA to provide more plant-based options. But the huge popularity of its nuggets is also part of the reason: as Kristie Middleton, VP, Business Development at Rebellyous Foods tells vegconomist, students have stated a preference for the plant-based option.
At the Annual National Conference of the School Nutrition Association, students said they enjoyed Rebellyous Foods’ nuggets more than conventional chicken nuggets. Additionally, school food providers gave the company resounding feedback: “It tastes like chicken.”
“Just a few weeks ago, the team attended the Annual National Conference of the School Nutrition Association – the premier U.S. industry event for school food – and after trying Rebellyous’ plant-based nuggets, student ambassadors from Littleton Public Schools in Colorado told the 6,600 attendees that they preferred the plant-based nuggets from Rebellyous to those typically served in their schools,” Middleton informs vegconomist.
Affordable plant-based chicken
Founded in 2017 by former aerospace engineer Christie Lagally, Rebellyous Foods makes nutritious plant-based chicken faster and more cheaply than its counterpart, using tech-backed solutions. The company’s plant-based chicken nuggets received the KeHE On Trend Frozen Award in 2022. The product also meets USDA child nutrition standards.
Rebellyous Foods’ range, including nuggets, tenders, and patties, is available in over 1000 retailers nationwide. However, its primary customers are the schools in the National School Lunch Program. Rebellyous nuggets already provide kids with an alternative to chicken at 100 major school districts across the US. And according to the company, a pipeline of cafeterias is waiting to add them to their menus.
In February, the company announced a $9.5 million equity round to build a next-generation machine to make plant-based chicken affordable at scale to supply its waiting customers.
Providing plant-based options for children
Rebellyous Foods, engaged in the movement to provide more plant-based options in schools, highlighted the following initiatives that have been taking place throughout the USA:
- New York Public Schools’ plant-based Fridays
- Unified School District of Santa Ana, California follows plant-based Wednesdays
- School districts like Manteca Unified (Calif.) are swapping their chicken nuggets for plant-based nuggets
- California passed a budget last year which included $100 million for schools to receive grants to promote plant-based foods
- The Washington State Legislature provided $150,000 to support grants for schools seeking to implement more plant-based meal options in the school year 2022–2023
- Illinois passed a law requiring schools to offer vegan meals
- Florida Senator Rodriguez introduced legislation to require the same. It passed the Ag committee, but it died in May
“The world is in desperate need of viable solutions to animal agriculture, and we are delighted we are one step closer to delicious, affordable plant-based meat for all,” said Lagally.