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Beefing Up the Veggies, Banning the Candy Milk: Is the LAUSD Actually Saving School Food Today?

A couple of the little customers the LAUSD would not allow LAist to interact with today during their press event (Photo via KFINews/Twitpic)
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After months of kerfuffle with Jamie Oliver and local, community food and environmental activists, today the LAUSD board takes action on the dreaded pink milk. While pink milk is an atrocity (it has more sugar than Coca-Cola) in a school district with a childhood obesity epidemic, it calls into question the rest of the USDA mandatory 5 items on a lunch tray. The Oliver camp is calling this a win, and in the light of ABC re-scheduling and lower-than-hoped-for ratings, perhaps it is. But milk is just one part of the equation.The board is voting today on over $250 million in 5-year food contracts, including possibly substantially beefing up (with soy) their vegetarian offerings.

From what little public information has been made available, it appears the vegetarian options will be highly processed, pre-packaged affairs (like the "Asian Pad Thai" they previewed to the press recently). This is not Real Food Daily vegan-style. No. Also included is something called "farmers' market salad." With no publicly-posted itemized contract published we can only guess what that means. Perhaps we will be enlightened and we will share.

What will not be re-visited is the reported 80% "waste" rate for existing LAUSD food. That's right 4 out of 5 pounds of school food, some $300 million worth, is thrown away. Last month the board voted to donate the uneaten chow to local hunger agencies. No reports of large numbers of homeless populations exiting L.A. as soup kitchen clients exit LA, but we, again will keep you posted.