Reasonable people believe, of course, that children should eat more fruits and vegetables.
Most concur they should eat less “junk food.” It follows that authorities should engineer their school lunches to make sure that they have the opportunity to eat healthier.
More salad bars in schools, by all means!
The introduction of healthier school lunch fare in Los Angeles has received some recent media scrutiny, casting a gray pall over the district’s best intentions to offer healthier food.
A Dec. 17 Los Angeles Times news story, headlined “L.A. schools’ healthful lunch menu panned by students,” said the new menus of pad thai noodles, vegetarian curries and tamales did not go over.
Massive waste was reported, and the district relented and is ditching lentil and brown rice cutlets and quinoa and black-eyed pea salads in favor of regular burgers and familiar food.
In a Dec. 20 Los Angeles Times editorial, titled “L.A. Unified’s food for naught,” the paper said “there are many ways to feed children nutritious meals without trying to make international gourmets of them.”
It is simply true, the editorial observed, that kids sometime prefer nachos to beanburgers.
“It’s a fine idea to expand the food repertoires of children, with their notoriously fussy eating habits, but the district should have introduced new cuisine more gradually,” the editorial concluded.
I tend to agree.
Perhaps it is better to take it slow on the beanburger and Thai dumplings. Cultivate the taste of new foods slowly and let them attract a following.
But don’t throw the salad bar out with the vegetarian curry.
In that vein, the article said L.A. Unified has boosted outlays for fresh produce from $2 million in 2006 to $20 million in 2010.
Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition for the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association, told me Dec. 5 that she hasn’t yet received the full story about what went wrong with L.A. school district healthy lunches.
Contrary to some media impressions about healthy fare, DiSogra said she has heard good things about increasing prepared salad consumption in the district.
“I think there is a positive story here about fruits and vegetables,” DiSogra said.
This topic of “what went wrong in L.A.” was a big discussion in the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group recently.
One member said the L.A. district neglected its audience and customers and instead offered meals that appealed to them, not to high school students.
Another said the “governing elite” were well-intentioned but lacked common sense. Another objected to the retreat, stating that school food has been abysmal for decades and is part of the reason we are stuck in an obesity ditch.
Look for more reporting and coverage of this hot topic in coming months.
In his effective argument for a merger between the Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association in a Jan. 2 opinion column in this space, Don Goodwin mentioned the LinkedIn poll about the merger.
Find it here if you would like to add your vote. Voting continues through Jan. 16. Through Jan. 5, the votes were running nearly 5 to 1 in favor of the merger.
Meanwhile, if readers want to go deep into the budget numbers for a variety of produce-related organizations, check out this link.
I’ve put together links to 990 tax forms for a variety of associations in a spreadsheet. While it is not finished, it does give a complete picture for United Fresh and PMA for the past four years or so.
As a new iPhone user, I was recently introduced to the “Angry Birds” app. And yes, there is a produce connection.
An advertisement before you play the game touts Wonderful Pistachios. “Angry birds do it on the fly. Wonderful Pistachios. Get crackin’.”
Now if some produce marketer can think of some “Temple Run” tie-in, all my entertainment options will be aptly industry-related.
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.