Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Students Chime In on the School Meal Program

I am very pleased to report that on February 20th at Roosevelt High School my office collaborated with the LAUSD Food Services Branch, The Healthy School Food Coalition, California Food Policy Advocates and The Southeast Asian Community Alliance to convene the first ever Student Discussion Group to elicit students' opinions on the school meal program.

Seventeen middle and high school students from several different sites in the District participated to give honest and constructive feedback about their cafeteria experiences. Our Executive Chef, Mark Baida, was on hand and engaged the students in a taste test of a new flavored milk product sweetened with sucrose instead of high-fructose corn syrup.

The students also engaged in several activities including nutrition jeopardy where they competed in teams to answer questions about the taste and texture of the food, entrees they do or don't like, the atmosphere of their cafeterias and what they'd like to change. Students were very constructive in their answers and surprisingly what came out on top is students want sushi! We'll have to follow up with Chef Mark to see if it can happen.

Change of course doesn't happen quickly but this is definitely progress and I am very encouraged that Food Services is engaging students and the community.

The future plan is to conduct these student discussion groups once a month to maintain student involvement in the meal planning process. If you know students who would like to participate in one of these discussion groups please contact Andrea N. Giancoli, the School Nutrition Policy Coordinator in my office at 213 241-5141 to find out how.