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L.A. schools' healthful lunch menu panned by students

For many students, Los Angeles Unified's introduction of healthful lunches — part of a campaign against obesity, diabetes and other problems — has been a flop. The district says the menu will be revised.

December 17, 2011|By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times

Among other complaints, Vanderbok said salads dated Oct. 7 were served Oct. 17. (Binkle said the dates indicate when the food is at its highest quality, not when it goes bad. They have been removed to avoid misinterpretation.) On campus, even adults — including a Junior ROTC officer and an art teacher — have been found selling black market candy, chips and instant noodles to hungry students, she said.

"I compare it to Prohibition," Vanderbok said.

Van Nuys history teacher Doug Kayne turned the discontent into a class assignment, asking his 11th-grade U.S. history students to write five letters about the food to the mayor, the media and First Lady Michelle Obama. In class recently, students complained about mold on noodles, undercooked meat and hard rice.

At Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, Frida Duarte, 16, said her burger was "pretty good" and her friends liked the hot chicken wings. The rest? "Like dog food," said Christian Campus, 14, adding that he and his football teammates eat the lunches only to sustain them through practice.

Even at Johnny L. Cochran Jr. Middle School in Los Angeles, where, according to Barrett, students reportedly loved the food, Principal Scott Schmerelson indicated dissatisfaction. He said students were rejecting the plain milk, jambalaya, Caribbean meatballs and other new dishes.

"It's not going over well; I have a lot of waste," Schmerelson said. "They don't want the weird things. They want down-home comfort food."

Binkle said the district will continue to make adjustments. But he added that a return to chocolate milk, nachos and deep-fried corn dogs wasn't likely.

"We're going to stay the course on healthy food," he said.

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