We're Different– Together.

Los Angeles School District Loses Its Lunch

It might be a stretch to say that most students in Southern California eat like an after-hours rat at the county fair, but as teacher I have noticed that most of my students don’t even eat breakfast. The few that do eat breakfast, grab their grub from the local donut shop or AM/PM. Some even start the day off right with a  bag of hot Cheetos and a Monster energy drink.

Nutritious school lunches are obviously lacking, and after banning candy and soda sales on school grounds a few years ago, Los Angeles Unified School District decided to super-size the healthy options on the school menus. Now, a few months after rolling out healthy delicacies like black bean burgers and quinoa salads, it turns out most students aren’t big fans of the new fare.

What’s happening at LA Unified shouldn’t surprise anyone; the new menu looks like it was modeled after an overzealous, all natural-or-nothing diet.  Take a look at the progression in the lunch menu:

  • Before- chocolate milk, strawberry milk, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, nachos
  • After-  beef jambalaya, , lentil and brown rice cutlets, and quinoa and black-eyed pea salads, Caribbean meatball sauce, vegetarian curries and tamales, and pad Thai noodles.

Sounds like the product of a hippie food cult to me. You take kids who have been eating garbage for their entire lives, and then you try to force feed them vegetarian tamales and black-eyed pea and quinoa salad?  I didn’t learn what quinoa was until two years ago, and I barely learned how to pronounce it over the summer (“keen-wa”).

“We’re trying to put healthier foods in place and make food [that] kids like, and that’s a challenge,” (deputy food services director David) Binkle said. “But we want to be responsive, listen and learn.”

Yeah, and it’s even more challenging when most of the ADULTS at the school haven’t even heard of some of the menu items.

Alas, it looks like the culinary crew at LA Unified has stumbled upon the vast middle ground  between chicken nuggets and quinoa salad. Now that the foodies have had their fun, the menu is back to a few basics like hamburgers on whole wheat buns, pizza with whole wheat crust and low-fat cheese.

Whole wheat buns are not nearly as sexy as lentil and brown rice cutlets, but they are a good start. They might even help teach kids that you don’t have to eat like an alien if you want to be healthy.

Allison’s Take: 

I agree. Our own children have been raised on a fairly healthy diet and I have trouble imagining them eating black-eyed pea soup. I have visions of fake gagging and stained carpet just trying .

Getting kids to eat more healthfully can be challenging which is why I have  resorted to downright trickery in the past. Most of our kid approved dinners involve hiding healthy things in familiar recipes – a little trick I learned from Jessica Seinfeld. Perhaps LAUSD should have consulted with her or any mom for that matter.

And my hearty congratulations to Richie for finding the most unappetizing photo he could.

Photo Credit


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