Improving School Food: If LA Unified Can Do It, Why Not Your District?

Los Angeles Unified School District Crown Supe...

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Los Angeles Unified is the second largest school district in the United States and has the greatest number of students in California.  In 2009-2010, LAUSD educated 677,538 children, a number I can’t comprehend.

LA Unified has taken steps to improve school lunches!  Fresh food has replaced frozen, and students have been given input into menus.

If a district the size of LA Unified can do it, why can’t your district improve school meals?

Organic Authority explains:

Credit Jamie Oliver, despite the LAUSD school board’s overwhelming resistance to the host of ABC’s The Food Revolution, for planting a veritable seed of truth about the problems and solutions with the school lunch program in Los Angeles. And whether fans of the chef’s controversial approaches or not (pouring 57 tons of “sugar” on a school bus), he opened lots of eyes to a harsh reality: Los Angeles kids are eating themselves sick.

LAUSD executive chef Mark Baida has been hard at work preparing tastings for 50 students and a handful of parents out of the Newman Center where 225,000 meals are prepared for area students each day. Feedback from the students has helped shape the menu items created not only to be healthier, but tastier than frozen, mushy veggies and canned fruit.

During these times of educational budget cuts, how can LA Unified afford to make these changes, especially when 80% of students are on free and reduced meals?  The cost of the new program is significantly increased from $0.17 a meal to $0.95 in order to serve children fresher, healthier options.  That’s $18 million of the $120 million food budget earmarked for fresh food.  The Los Angeles Times reports the district is using its massive buying ability to negotiate lower prices.

LA Unified has committed to only preparing and serving “restaurant-quality food” to their students.  Hopefully, other school districts will follow their lead, similar to LAUSD’s ban of soda sales in 2004.

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