Target: Dennis Barrett, Director of Food Services for the Los Angeles Unified School District
Goal: Praise the Los Angeles Unified School District’s commitment to getting rid of junk food and providing healthier student meals.
Children in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) can expect some big changes when they head back to school this month. Healthier lunches, breakfast in the classroom and environmentally-friendly meal trays have all been approved by the district and are to go into effect for the next school year. “We want to teach kids about eating healthy and eating right,” explained David Binkle, the interim director for LAUSD’s Food Services Division. “It should be part of their education that there’s more to food than pizza and chicken nuggets.”
According to a study published by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, it is estimated that more than 45 percent of students grades 5 through 9 are obese or overweight. Knowing that as the obesity rate increases so too do the rates of serious health problems like diabetes, LAUSD has been working for years to teach better eating habits to students. Now in line with the federal government’s “My Plate” guidelines, campus lunches are going to include more fruits and vegetables and fewer sugary drinks and sweets.
So say goodbye to junk food, soda, and flavored milk; instead, students will now be offered whole-grain spaghetti and meatballs, hamburger sliders, and salads. Of course, this type of change might not go over so well with all students, many of whom have grown up surrounded by the constant push and pull of the fast food industry. “You can offer more fruits, veggies, and so on, but just because the meal is healthier doesn’t mean that kids will eat it,” said Ariana Oliva of California Food Policy Advocates, a nonprofit organization that helps school districts develop healthy meal plans. “[Fast food] is ingrained in our culture, and it’s a slow process to change that mentality.”
Even so, the steps that LAUSD has taken have proved that they are willing to do what it takes to teach students healthy eating habits. Praise LAUSD for standing up for student health and making positive changes to their meal system by signing the petition below.
Dear Mr. Barrett,
Lessons are not the only things being taught at schools. In addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, students also acquire some serious habits that can have an effect on the rest of their lives. Whether it is how to treat authority figures and peers, what children learn in school will remain a part of their personality long through their maturity. The same could be said about how they treat their body and the food they feed it.
With an improved lunch menu, and eco-friendly meal trays, LAUSD has proven that the health of students is as equally important as the lessons taught in the classroom. This lead by example approach will give students and their families a better way to understand the importance of healthy food and quality eating. Your commitment to students is commendable, and I thank you for it.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Tim Lauer