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Lousy School Lunches 

Thursday, Jun 23 2011
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Gendy Alimurung's cover story on school lunches fed to Los Angeles Unified School District students ("Bad Lunch," June 17) gave readers plenty to chew over.

The story said that to save money, all meals are prepared in a central processing plant and distributed to schools, where they are reheated. Some meals are nutritious but many others are high in sugar and sodium — and are unappetizing to students. Alimurung also reported that many students go hungry at lunch because they can't get through the line before the lunch breaks end.

Carolyn McKnight, principal of the East L.A. Performing Arts Academy, writes: "Gendy, I invite you to visit an LAUSD high school where teachers decided to create a schedule that allows students enough time to eat, socialize, play a little basketball or attend a club meeting. Come by the East L.A. Performing Arts Academy at 11:10 a.m. and see what lunch looks like when students are treated with respect and accorded human dignity. The food is not perfect, but it tastes better when you have time to sit with friends and siblings to eat and chat."

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Michael Landon writes: "Why aren't the parents packing lunches for these kids if they're so concerned about the lack of nutritional meals being served? Families under the poverty line are qualified to receive food stamps, WIC coupons and other forms of aid both from the government and private sectors. Sending the kids to school with a sandwich and a piece of fruit would alleviate the kids missing out on lunch due to the long lines and put the control of the child's nutrition where it should be, in the hands of the parents. This really seems like parents wanting to get one more handout rather than taking responsibility for their children."

A reader identified as "wetcasements" replies: "Look, American kids are spoiled. I live in Korea these days and I've seen what kids here eat for school lunches — rice, a soup (usually vegetable), a protein such as some sliced beef or a few pieces of fried pork, and a piece of fruit (apple, orange, some grapes). Cup of water.

"Done and done.

"Is it amazingly delicious? No, of course not. But it's nutritious and fairly simple to pull off.

"It's school lunch, people — get your calories and your vitamins, don't try and please the taste buds of tens of thousands of fickle teenagers. Because you'll never succeed.

"And stop serving milk, flavored or otherwise. Water is what they should be having (and learning to drink instead of soda, Gatorade and all the other sugary crap that gets marketed directly to them)."

Finally, Carmen Gonzalez writes: "If the paved-over physical education fields could be converted into communal vegetable areas, LAUSD could find a way to turn kids on to organics and natural science all in one fell swoop. Yes, I recognize the article mentioned that local gardens cannot be used for cafeteria food, but maybe it is time for LAUSD to revisit the issue. Quit dialing in the regurgitated response and show some leadership."

Red-Light Rip-off

Our story describing the efforts of one citizen to win a ban on red-light cameras in Los Angeles ("Stopping the Red Light Cameras," by Michael Goldstein, June 17) brought a chorus of praise for activist Jay Beeber.

Vince Rocca writes: "Thanks Mr. Beeber. I was appalled to discover that paying for a red-light photo ticket admits guilt and counts as a point on your DMV record. Don't pay and your record will be clean."

Fofer replies: "Appalled isn't the right word for me. I've gotten two of these absurd tickets in the last two years. Fought both and lost, obviously. And then paid. My insurance company dropped me as a result of these extra points on my record. So I had to sign up with another, at 3x the cost. The amount of money I've had to pay as a result of these ridiculously unfair cameras is obscene. None of the 'ticket-busting' outfits gave me any useful information. I wish I'd known I could just ignore these freaking tickets. What a scam this whole enterprise is."

Reader Lindalucks writes: "Jay Beeber is a local hero who is working to change policy and save lives."

To which Boredomfiend replies: "Did you even read the report? He's not saving lives, he's just saving money. The point here is that the red-light cameras were not saving lives either."

Finally, mokey48 writes: "This isn't about safety. As usual, it's all about money. Red-light cameras are the modern equivalent of rural speed traps that pour money into city hall."

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