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School Spotlight: LAUSD Revamps Lunch Menus for 2012-2013 School Year

School Cafeteria PosterThere are some exciting changes being put into place on school lunches based on the new National School Lunch Program guidelines, and schools like Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) are taking them seriously.

Child nutrition is a very serious matter, and LAUSD is taking initiative and paving the way for others across the nation. Serving 650,000 lunches every day, their efforts are worthy of praise. Imagine meeting and exceeding these new regulations with that volume. They have endured challenges, and it’s a continual work in progress. But that’s just it. It’s progress. Exactly what this nation needs for our kids, progress.

LAUSD is the second largest school district in the United States. If they can make improvements to school lunches, we all can. Last fall, the district launched the “I’m In” Campaign, a program designed to increase awareness of childhood obesity and encourage healthy eating habits. The program is aimed at not only students and educators, but parents and supporting groups throughout the community as well.

The “I’m In” Campaign implemented a new wellness program and menu introducing ambitious new meals like chicken tandoori, beef jambalaya, and curry. Because some of these meals were foreign to students, they didn’t necessarily take to them. This could be true for any of us, as we aren’t necessarily quick to change our habits, especially when it comes to what we eat.

LAUSD responded like the champions they are and invited parents to participate in taste tests with their children when they began planning for this year. The district understands that parent involvement is crucial in making these new guidelines and healthy habits stick.

“The LAUSD Board of Education have supported the positive approach to child health for more than 10 years. As an early adopter of removing student access to carbonated beverages, the District has been at the forefront of leading bold nutrition policy change. Superintendent Dr. John Deasy has continued the aggressive health and wellness standards by implementing many positive improvements such as eliminating access to flavored milk. These changes have been lauded nationally and have assisted in decreasing child obesity rates in Los Angeles County,” said David Binkle, Interim Director, Food Services Division.

Last week marked the beginning of the LAUSD’s 2012-2013 school year, and their menu’s looking better than ever. Up first, BBQ Baked Chicken with a Whole Wheat Roll, and Cross-Cut Sweet Potatoes alongside an apple and 1% or fat free milk.

Proper nutrition is key to a student’s academic success. Research shows that students who eat well balanced meals perform better throughout the day with higher levels of concentration and higher test scores.

Breakfast in the classroom continues to be an emphasis for the district, and positive results are being noted. LAUSD will continue to expand their breakfast program this year to ensure that students are not only eating the most important meal of the day, but making sure it contains the nutrients they need. They’ve rolled out eco-friendly trays, and their menu is both nutritious and appetizing thanks to Café LA, LAUSD’s food services division responsible for meal planning. They’ve toned down the offerings from last year to include items kids are more familiar with but have ensured they have a nutritious twist.

LAUSD opened its lunchrooms to almost 700,000 students this week, and we are excited to see where this year takes them. Dedicated students, parents, educators, and support staff continue to impact the lives of so many across the nation. This story is one of so many out there worth sharing. State by state, city by city, school by school, we will make a difference. We are perfectly capable of creating change, and following the example of LAUSD, we are well on our way to doing so.

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