Los Angeles schools' plan to revamp lunch menu to make offerings healthier results in massive student complaints, uneaten food

LOS ANGELES , December 20, 2011 () – Schools in Los Angeles are planning to revamp their lunch menu after their new, healthful lunches resulted in mass student complaints and uneaten food, The Los Angeles Times reported on Dec. 17.

The new menu was introduced into the nation’s second-largest school district this past fall in an effort to combat obesity, diabetes and other health problems related to unhealthy food.

The new menu eliminated chicken nuggets, corn dogs, nachos and other foods that were high in sugar, sodium and fat, replacing them with healthier offerings that adhere to the federal government’s updated dietary guidelines.

Principals say that many of the items from the new menu are being thrown away uneaten, and many campuses have a thriving underground market for unhealthy food such as fast-food burgers and chips.

Participation in the school lunch program fell by 13%, although roughly two-fifths of the loss came from 99 schools that temporarily began requiring lunch tickets. According to Dennis Barrett, L.A. Unified's food services director, over the last month participation was down by only around 5% or 6%, indicating that the school lunch program has begun to recover from the massive decline.

As part of the new menu, hamburgers will be offered daily, some of the more exotic dishes such as beef jambalaya and vegetable curry will no longer be included, and the Caribbean meatball sauce will be changed to teriyaki. Barret indicated that even pizza will be on the new menu — albeit a healthier version, featuring low-fat cheese, a whole wheat crust and low-sodium sauce.

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

The primary source of this article is the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California, on Dec. 17, 2011.

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