This year, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) implemented a plan to make school lunches healthier. Students did not respond well to the change. Education Week reports,
Many of the meals are being rejected en masse. Participation in the school lunch program has dropped by thousands of students. Principals report massive waste, with unopened milk cartons and uneaten entrees being thrown away. Students are ditching lunch, and some say they’re suffering from headaches, stomach pains and even anemia. At many campuses, an underground market for chips, candy, fast-food burgers and other taboo fare is thriving.
Some of the more exotic dishes are out, including the beef jambalaya, vegetable curry, pad thai, lentil and brown rice cutlets, and quinoa and black-eyed pea salads. And the Caribbean meatball sauce will be changed to the more familiar teriyaki flavor.
In addition to dishes that may not appeal to the typical teenage palate, students report that the food was improperly cooked. It is hard to blame cafeteria/district cooks for the problem. They are not trained chefs, and many of the dishes, particularly ethnic entrees like the Caribbean meatball thing, probably require some culinary skill to prepare properly. Indeed, cafeteria/district cooks couldn’t even get basic dishes right. Students complained about “mold on noodles, undercooked meat and hard rice.”