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LAUSD food revamp sees rave student reviews

August 15, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's a new school year, which means there's something new on the lunch menu.

"When I saw it I didn't think I was going to like it as much as I did," said Melissa Martinez, a senior at Panorama High School.

Tex-Mex cornbread and black bean mountain was declared a winner at the school. With about 25 five minutes to eat, it's got to taste good for the kids to rush in.

Last year, students passed on veggie curry, tamales and quinoa salad. This year, some of the entrees are created by the students themselves. Some have even won culinary awards, and the students are now taking the dishes for a test drive.

Guadalupe Gonzalez, a 10th grader, won a $500 prize for her whole wheat fresh fruit tart, through the Cooking up Change program.

An L.A. favorite has also found its way onto lunch trays.

"This year I am excited to say one of the new items is a chicken and waffle, for an example," said David Binkle, LAUSD's food service director. "But this year the waffle is a potato and chive waffle, a savory waffle where we've taken the sugar out of it."

Serving approximately 650,000 a day, LAUSD is the nation's second largest school district, but Binkle says 5 million more meals were served last year than budgeted for, which created revenue.

The district goes beyond meeting nutrition guidelines and is working on sustainability. They use California wheat in baked goods and 75 percent of the produce comes from within 200 miles of L.A.

There's also good news about milk.

"We're actually serving fat-free or 1 percent milk, and I'm excited to say that the numbers are exactly what they were when we were serving chocolate milk," said Binkle.


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