LA Schools’ Healthy Lunch Menu Not Going Over Too Well

Posted by on Dec 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Gee, you suppose kids aren’t into the Michelle Obama healthy eating initiative? Whodathunkit?

It’s lunchtime at Van Nuys High School and students stream into the cafeteria to check out the day’s fare: black bean burgers, tostada salad, fresh pears and other items on a new healthful menu introduced this year by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

But Iraides Renteria and Mayra Gutierrez don’t even bother to line up. Iraides said the school food previously made her throw up, and Mayra calls it “nasty, rotty stuff.” So what do they eat? The juniors pull three bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and soda from their backpacks.

“This is our daily lunch,” Iraides says. “We’re eating more junk food now than last year.”

For many students, L.A. Unified’s trailblazing introduction of healthful school lunches has been a flop. Earlier this year, the district got rid of chocolate and strawberry milk, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, nachos and other food high in fat, sugar and sodium. Instead, district chefs concocted such healthful alternatives as vegetarian curries and tamales, quinoa salads and pad Thai noodles.

There’s just one problem: Many of the meals are being rejected en masse. Participation in the school lunch program has dropped by thousands of students. Principals report massive waste, with unopened milk cartons and uneaten entrees being thrown away. Students are ditching lunch, and some say they’re suffering from headaches, stomach pains and even anemia. At many campuses, an underground market for chips, candy, fast-food burgers and other taboo fare is thriving.

Acknowledging the complaints, L.A. Unified’s food services director, Dennis Barrett, announced this month that the menu would be revised. Hamburgers will be offered daily. Some of the more exotic dishes are out, including the beef jambalaya, vegetable curry, pad Thai, lentil and brown rice cutlets, and quinoa and black-eyed pea salads. And the Caribbean meatball sauce will be changed to the more familiar teriyaki flavor.

Naturally, they’re receiving awards for the awful food.

This year, L.A. Unified, which serves 650,000 meals daily, has received awards for improving its school lunches, including one last week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and another from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

They should be forced to eat the junk themselves.

2 Responses to “LA Schools’ Healthy Lunch Menu Not Going Over Too Well”

  1. Old One on 19/19/11 at 3:06 pm

    As an LAUSD senior high teacher for 40 years students spurning the union labor prepared garbage in the school lunch program is nothing new and that was before the traditional & popular menu items such as breakfast sweet rolls, nachos, etc were dropped from the menus as unhealthy.
    Black bean burgers!! Yuk! Hey Michelle Antoinetee’s let the Parisian eat cake attitude doesn’t sell on school campuses. At least half of the students even those qualified for free school lunches were skipping the cafeteria garbage before the recent changes and the trash cans brimmed with rejected uneaten food from the free school lunch program. Hell even the homeless winos & seagulls of the neighborhood would have spurned black bean burgers.
    We peasants are supposed to “eat cake” while Michelle Antoinette Oblamer gorge on wagyu beef, ribs, & all that unhealthy fare against which the First Wookie rants & rails. How far away can the revolution be.