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Cafeteria Food Ranked Low in L.A. Schools

September 08, 1996

Re "Survey Criticizes School Cafeterias," Aug. 30:

LAUSD's cafeteria food is full of fat and lacking in fresh vegetables and whole grains. I am a licensed clinical social worker employed by LAUSD, and very interested in nutrition.

I disagree strongly with the spokeswoman for the California Food Policy Advocates that "for kids who have their dietary needs taken care of at school, they could take advantage of a little more fat than would otherwise be recommended." Quite the contrary. Most children on subsidized or free lunch tend to be fed far too much fat in their diets at home. What is usually lacking are simple fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains cooked without fat.

I have been working with poor and immigrant families for 25 years and asking about their diets. Parents tell me they cannot afford to buy fresh fruit because children eat it as soon as it is purchased. It doesn't stay in the refrigerator.

Let's give these kids healthy meals at school. Let's help them like what is also good for their bodies. If we teach kids about good nutrition and then feed them junk, we've accomplished nothing.


Van Nuys

* I was not surprised to read that the Los Angeles Unified School District was ranked almost at the bottom of the national evaluation by Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine. My daughter's elementary school, a "better" San Fernando Valley school "south of the boulevard," offered meals that only a jailer would find appealing. Fresh fruit or vegetables are almost never served. When I asked the cafeteria manager why more fresh vegetables were not served, she responded that since the kids did not eat the vegetables, they stopped offering vegetables! Additionally, instead of fresh fruit, the school often served frozen fruit Popsicles "because the kids like it better." Why don't they just serve cake and ice cream and candy every day because the kids like it better?

If parents want a real eye-opener they should inspect the bathrooms at our children's schools. Parents would be shocked if they saw the unsanitary conditions of some school bathrooms.



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