My daughter is still in preschool, but I’ve been keeping an eye on the school lunch–reform movement. This week on KCRW’s Good Food, producer Thea Chaloner visited CALS High, a charter school in downtown Los Angeles, and talked to a number of students about the new healthy school lunches they’re getting through a company called Revolution Foods. (If you want to listen, the segment runs from 8:22 to 13:50.)
“I am not a big fan of salad,” one student said. “I don’t really like them. But the Chinese chicken salad they had here, it had good dressing, it had crunchy noodles, it had good chicken in it and carrots, and it was just an overall pleasant experience.”
This sounds better than my average lunch.
The emphasis of the lunch program, I was pleased to hear, is on taste. Menus are developed with student and parent participation. “We do not serve fried, processed, or reheated food” is part of Revolution’s food standards. And the program has been a hit: hot lunch sales have doubled, and one student who used to go to Carl’s Jr five days a week now eats at school four days. (Four days without fried food is about as many as I can handle too, dude.)
However, the segment sidestepped the issue of cost. Some of the ingredients are sourced through Whole Foods, which should give you an idea that these lunches are out of reach of the typical urban school district. In Seattle, for example, schools have about $1 a day per student to spend on ingredients.
Still, it was fun to hear from actual high school students rather than just parents, advocates, and other media surrogates, and I’ll file this story away for when I become an annoying public school parent in a couple years.
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