Dear Editor: This letter is in response to the submissions written by the Warren High School students referencing cafeteria food.
As a proud lunch lady for the Downey Unified School District, I have a few points I would like to address. First of all, I want to applaud these young minds for hitting on issues of great importance. Nutrition is vital and being part of an educational system, I feel it is our duty to help teach and encourage the youth of today to make better choices about their health.
Believe it or not, Downey Unified is doing that. As a public school, we have certain (strict) guidelines we have to adhere to (i.e., calorie count, fat grams, carbs, sugars, grain requirements) and all of those requirements must be met in order to serve you, the student...our customer.
Tons of hours go in to creating menu choices that meet these guidelines as well as your taste buds. What you are consuming is, in fact, much healthier than you know. Of course, it does not have the familiar wrapping and labeling that most of you are so used to seeing (McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box) but you can be assured that it is most likely a healthier choice.
As far as vegetarian options are concerned, there are many choices. Salads, Uncrustables, macaroni and cheese, cheese pizza, tuna, vegetarian chili, yogurts and the menu keeps growing.
Maybe they are not what some people want but what students do not see is the waste that we have. We as a district throw away so much food. Salads, fresh fruits, beautiful vegetables fill up the trash cans on all of our campuses. It is so disheartening to see so much wasted.
What students – our customers – do not realize is they are so lucky to have the choices that they do have. When I was in school, which wasn’t forever ago, there weren’t many choices. You ate what was served or you didn’t eat. We cater to you and your needs. Sure we wish we could do more but we are too limited. We are part of a federally-funded program and have to adhere to the requirements set forth by it. This is how we are able to serve you.
So next time you have a complaint or suggestion, please do your research and don’t be afraid to approach one of us and ask. We will do our best to answer or direct you to the person you need to go to. Next time you throw away a perfectly good meal, or even a piece of fruit, know that someone prepared that for you and it wasn’t in a microwave as stated in the original letter.
We “lunch ladies and men” work really hard to provide our customers with the healthiest and tastiest food we can. We are working very hard to give you as many choices as we can. Again, we have strict guidelines we have to follow.
And for those who are unhappy that Gatorade replaced soda...no worries, I am sure it won’t be long before those machines are removed from your campuses as well due to regulations we have to follow.
Continue to speak out with your concerns and ideas. We love to hear them. And don’t be afraid to say hello next time you see one of us. Remember, we are here for you.
Published: March 27, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 50