School Cafeterias to Serve Healthy Meals
School districts in Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Chicago, Orlando and Miami, Florida, are planning to use their clout to make healthful food a national standard in schools. Aside from this, they also plan to promote eco-friendly practices by replacing plastic and polystyrene with biodegradable flatware and trays.
The new Urban School Food Alliance among LA Unified and five major school districts aims to reduce children’s consumption of sugar, fat and salt in school meals and to encourage other school districts to join the crusade. School districts that have so far expressed interest include Houston, Oakland, and San Diego.
Each district is assigned a specific project, such as lowering prices for organic chicken and researching alternatives for plastic flatware. L.A. Unified has modified its menu to include whole grains and fresh produce while eliminating flavored milk, nachos, and chicken nuggets. The New York City school district serves 860,000 meals a day at 1,700 campuses and offers a salad bar in every school.
David Binkle, L.A. Unified’s food services director, says that while some of the new menu items have failed, such as vegetable curry, quinoa salad, and brown rice cutlets, others, like the vegetarian burritos, have become popular. The district serves 650,000 meals a day, and has started a program to serve healthy breakfasts in the classroom and has eliminated polystyrene trays.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has launched an initiative called “Healthy Chicago” that includes changes like eliminating sugary drinks from vending machines and serving only water and 100% fruit juice in 8-ounce containers only. A new school party policy encourages serving fun but nutritious food, like “ants on a log” with peanut butter, celery, and raisins.
The new alliance confers regularly through teleconference to review menu items and plan to serve the same lunch in their school districts by March. The menu includes brown rice with beans, roasted chicken, steamed broccoli, fresh fruit, and milk.
Watanabe, T. Alliance of big city school districts aims for more healthful meals. Los Angeles Times.