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Why Los Angeles Schoolkids Get Lousy Meals 

Thursday, Jun 16 2011

Page 7 of 7

"One school at a time," Taylor told her.

At LAUSD dependent charter Canyon Elementary School, Carmen Joseph works with second graders in the school garden. She says she has seen kids eat stuff that would shock their parents. They made black bean corn salad with kale, and pumpkin cornmeal muffins with pumpkins from the pumpkin patch.

But LAUSD does not allow them to serve the vegetables or fruits grown in the garden in the cafeteria because it would compete with participation in the lunch program.

click to flip through (12) PHOTO BY GREGORY BOJORQUEZ - A recent lunch at Wilson High School in El Sereno

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At Los Angeles High, Jose Anaya isn't scoring illegal muffins from his Spanish teacher anymore. Teacher Salvador is no longer dealing. A student chucked a pear at her from the third floor while she was standing in the courtyard during lunch. The fruit hit her in the head and sent her to the hospital with concussion. No one knows who the culprit was, or if it was a piece of fruit the teacher herself sold.

After long deliberation and pressure from activists, Superintendent Deasy recommended that Los Angeles Unified's Board of Education stop serving the high-sugar chocolate and strawberry milk, effective fall 2011. Deasy made the announcement with a grinning Jamie Oliver on late-night TV show Jimmy Kimmel Live. The board voted 5-2 Tuesday to stop serving chocolate or strawberry flavored milk with added sugar.

There's also a new menu. It's the first one Binkle, Barrett and chef Mark Baida have had under their complete control, they say, without having to honor past contracts, which are sunsetting this year. The new menu, to debut in the fall, is undergoing taste-testing at the moment. Items are still in flux. Thus far, "potato smiles" and Tater Tots are returning. Chicken nuggets are not.

Instead of processed reconstituted meat, there will be whole chicken breast served with dark green veggies and brown rice. Kids can expect to eat chef Baida's Vietnamese bánh mì. Quinoa and Israeli couscous and lentils are on the agenda, too.

And yes, even hummus.

Reach the writer at galimurung@laweekly.com

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