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Issue: Fast Food in Schools

November 25, 1993|Psyche Pascual, Times community correspondent

Some Southeast area school districts allow or are considering allowing fast-food chains to sell to students at lunchtime, especially at schools that do not allow students

to leave campus during the day. Should fast food like pizza and hamburgers be an option for students in public schools?

* Elaine Tabak, California School Employees Assn., representing Norwalk-La Mirada school cafeteria workers. People told me that they were concerned about their jobs. They were afraid of kids getting Taco Bell this week, and maybe next month they'll want Carl's Jr. and eventually they won't need cafeteria food. But we have a letter from the superintendent saying we won't lose our jobs, so we feel more comfortable with it. Even though their jobs are not at stake, people are still concerned, especially the way things are with the economy. Some of the other school districts have different things our schools are going to try: nachos, a salad bar and a baked potato bar. There are kids who aren't going to eat, even if you have Taco Bell. We're meeting to try and find out what kids want to eat and what high schools can do to make the food more to their liking.

* Nick Taueu, Junior at John Glenn High School in Norwalk This is my junior year. Last year we used to go out to McDonald's or Taco Bell. If we didn't have much time, we'd go to Haven Burger and eat hamburgers or fries or whatever. If we had access to a car, we'd go to Taco Bell. Now you have to eat what's there at school, and there's not a lot of choice or the prices are a little high. They have Taco Bell at John Glenn now. Taco Bell is good. They've had pizza since last year, but I hope they get more variety of stuff. I think they should get McDonald's or Burger King. The hamburgers at school are the microwaved ones. They throw them in the microwave. They taste like rubber. I think a closed campus is good to keep kids out of trouble, but as far as food goes, I think they need to get more chains in there. Then it would be all right."

* Gail Frank, Nutrition professor , Cal State Long Beach In many menus across California and in school cafeterias, pizza, burgers, fries and other foods we call fast food are served every day. Kids will want to eat what they're used to eating when they're not in school. What parents serve at home and what they eat when they're out on weekends is what they want to eat at lunch. As a parent of three teens, it amazes me that they have such a monolithic eating pattern. They want to eat food they can hold in their hand, they can dip in their ketchup. All of it fits in their lap. It's something they can down in 10 or 12 minutes. It's rare in fast-food settings to meet that demand and still have under 30% fat composition and low salt. When you have a regular burger and fries, you are looking at a 55% fat composition meal. Kids can make healthy choices, but I don't think they do. I want to see kids having choices, but we have to educate them to help them make the choices, and we have to give them foods that have lower fat.

* Lowella Oakley, Food services manager , Paramount Unified School District I think it was a positive thing for our particular district. Children are geared to eat fast foods because a lot of parents provide fast food for their children. There is so much advertisement of fast food on TV and commercials that we have programmed our children to eat fast food. We as food service directors are continuing a service that children are familiar with. We use nutritional food. We serve them chicken from El Pollo Loco. The Subway sandwich is luncheon meat, but they receive that at school or any deli that they choose to eat at. We had Pizza Hut, but that was not a successful item. There was a lot of fat, and it came overcooked. The students eat at school now, whereas they did not eat here before. The students felt they were part of the decision making. We have a student population of approximately 3,000 at our high school, and by bringing in fast foods, we're able to reach more of those students.

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