LAUSD students can try new cafeteria food – Daily News

There were times when Jailyn Johnson just skipped lunch. She was so repelled by the menu items in her school cafeteria that Johnson, who is about to start her senior year at King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science in South Los Angeles, decided she’d rather go hungry. to eat the food. .

“I didn’t care,” the 17-year-old Johnson recalled. “The food didn’t taste very good. In fact, sometimes I would get sick from the food after school.”

But on Friday, July 29, Johnson was brimming with excitement when he sampled a strawberry smoothie bowl made by Los Angeles Unified School District food service workers.

“I would eat this, like, every morning,” Johnson said, gesturing to the bowl in front of him. “I’m kind of excited now because it’s like a running joke with LAUSD schools: that the food is bad. … This is a really good new introduction to what food is supposed to taste like.”

Johnson was one of more than two dozen students, from elementary through high school, who joined LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho at a downtown Los Angeles school to sample a dozen new menu items before the school year, which begins on August 15.

Menu items ranged from a bowl of ramen with chicken or tofu to kung pao chicken, tacos, macaroni and cheese and milkshakes. There was also this item, which seemed to be a fan favorite: bowls of carnitas.

However, not all articles were a hit with all students. Una grimaced as she sampled the mango smoothie.

Another student, Johnathan McGee, a freshman junior at the Los Angeles Enriched Study Center in Mid-City, said he was surprised some of the articles were “really good,” but admitted that other articles, like the meatball sandwiches were similar to foods you didn’t like last year.

“It’s kind of a hit or miss kind of thing,” he said.

District officials said they are seeking feedback from students, as they are the ultimate consumers of cafeteria food.

Improving cafeteria food is part of LA Unified’s new strategic plan, which calls for improving school nutrition by providing “fresher, healthier and more appealing options informed by feedback from families and students.”

More than 80% of LAUSD students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals based on their family’s income level, although starting this school year all public school children in the state can receive free meals under the program California Universal School Meals.

“It’s a human right to feed your child every day,” said Carvalho, who encouraged parents to send their children to school early enough so they can take advantage of free breakfasts in addition to lunch.

Julissa Mendoza, who is about to enter 12th grade at South Gate High School, said she is somewhat lactose intolerant and has friends who are vegan. Because of her dietary restrictions, she and her friends have had limited options in her school cafeteria, a challenge the 17-year-old hopes the district will address this year.

“It wasn’t an election, it was more like we had to abstain from food,” Mendoza said at the start of the taste test event, where she said she was looking forward to seeing what vegetarian items the district would serve. .

Manish Singh, LAUSD’s director of food services, said his department began developing the recipes and putting together the menu near the end of last school year.

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