Students in the Los Angeles Unified School District have been complaining about the healthier lunches that were introduced this semester calling the food “nasty, rotty stuf,” and “like dog food.” However what may at first glance appear to be a case of kids just wanting to eat more unhealthy junk, might actually be more about kids simply not liking the tastes or how the foods are made. In a class of 11th graders, kids complained about, “mold on noodles, undercooked meat and hard rice.”
Although The L.A. Times reports that the district has received several awards for its new lunch program, which provides kids with meals that include far more fresh vegetables than before, students aren’t happy to see lunchtime staples like “chocolate and strawberry milk, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, nachos” replaced with “vegetarian curries and tamales, quinoa salads and pad Thai noodles,” and apparently that change coupled with the poor food preparation has led to a sort of underground food ring:
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.
Principal Scott Schmerelson of Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Middle School, says, “It’s not going over well; I have a lot of waste … They don’t want the weird things. They want down-home comfort food.” In response to the complaints schools are now pulling some of the more “exotic” offerings, such as beef jambalaya, pad Thai, and vegetable curry and replacing them with hamburgers and pizza made with whole wheat crust, low-fat cheese, and low-sodium sauce.
Hopefully the revised menu will help kids view healthy view options in a better light. The last thing we need is to have kids, who are already bombarded with unhealthy food options, turning their backs on a healthier lifestyle because they think all healthy food tastes bad.
Sound-off: What are your thoughts on healthy lunch options in schools?