, Helen Chin, in case you need to give a photo credit. From left to right,  Bob Groff, Principal, PS244Q Dennis Walcott, Chancellor Amie Hamlin, NY Coalition for Healthy School Food Eric Goldstein, CEO of School Support Services (Photo: Helen Chin)
The Active Learning Elementary School is the first school in the city to go meat-free in its cafeteria. Chancellor Dennis Walcott recognized Principal Bob Groff and others at the school during a visit today. (Photo: Helen Chin)

A Queens school that has won accolades in the past for encouraging its students to adopt healthy behaviors is taking things a step further by eliminating meat from its cafeteria.

The Active Learning Elementary School, which serves young students in Flushing, is the first school in the city to go all-vegetarian, and city officials say it might be a pathbreaker nationwide. Chancellor Dennis Walcott, a fitness and diet junkie himself, visited the school for lunch today.

Instead of serving sloppy joes or roasted chicken, the school will serve up “healthy recipes such as roasted chickpeas, braised black beans with plantains, tofu vegetable wrap with cucumber salad, vegetarian chili served with brown rice, falafel, and roasted tofu with Asian sesame sauce,” according to the city’s press release.

Principal Robert Groff said in a statement the city distributed that the change was spurred on by the school’s students. “We discovered early on that our kids were gravitating toward our vegetarian offerings, and we kept expanding the program to meet the demand,” he said.

Students at TALES, also known as P.S. 244, have put the school on forefront of healthy eating before. The school dropped flavored milk from its drink choices two years ago after students pointed out the sugar content on the milk’s nutrition label. The change helped the school win special recognition in 2011 from President Bill Clinton for its role in combating obesity and unhealthy lifestyles among children.

Other schools that have adopted “Meatless Mondays” or made other efforts to reduce meat consumption have focused on the environmental advantages as well as health benefits. But TALES still has some steps it could take to reduce its environmental impact. According to a picture from the school that NY1 education reporter Lindsey Christ tweeted today, the new vegetarian meals are being served on styrofoam trays.