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Students advocate for better food

By Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 21, 2013 07:33 PM

Students from Youth United for Change continue their efforts to improve the quality of food served in school.

They took their case to the School Reform Commission meeting on Thursday night to publicly ask that students have a role in choosing a new provider for food that is prepared elsewhere and that the District set standards to require that at least 75 percent is fresh rather than frozen. YUC also wants rules for the request-for-proposal that will allow more companies to apply.

"The students need to be heard about school food because we are the ones who are eating the food," said Nadia Watson, a sophomore at Kensington Business High School who spoke for the group. Good meals are important to achievement, she said.

"In my experience, a student who eats lunch at school tends to pay attention more than a student who doesn't eat lunch," she said. "The problem with students not wanting to eat the school lunches is that they are unappealing or look like something that you can't even explain."

SRC member Sylvia Simms asked Watson how much food she sees wasted each day.

"Almost all of it," she replied.

YUC has been working with District officials already and made many recommendations to improve the quality of "pre-plated" food.

"A majority of students in the District get pre-plated food," Watson said. Those meals should not be fried and should include salads, she said.

YUC also wants the District to enforce the requirement with the current provider, Maramont, to get its food tested for bacteria in an independent laboratory and to make sure that the maximum possible amount of the federal subsidies for low-cost or free lunch is spent "on quality food for us, rather than on other expenses."

"We want the School District to make quality, fresh, healthy food for us a priority," Watson said.

Wayne Grasela, senior vice president for food services, said that the students will continue to be involved as the District moves forward in choosing a provider, especially in tasting, although it is not clear whether they could actually participate in choosing a new provider.

But he added that the students have devoted admirable time and effort to their cause.

"It's been a pleasure working with these students," he said.

Comments (7)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 22, 2013 4:10 am
I am curious regarding the name of the food service that provides the food. I am asking because my daughter does not participate in the program, however she informs me about other students being subjected to food that shouldn't be served. I will be taking our concerns to the board.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 22, 2013 9:48 am
First, we must make sure that with any option, all union jobs are maintained.
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on November 22, 2013 10:24 am
I hear all kids of puff about the healthy food served Philadelphia students. What I see is donuts and tasty cake like things in the morning and pizza and fried food at lunch. I think the SRC treats nutrition like education. It is all about the appearance of nutrition not actual healthy food.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 22, 2013 4:52 pm
How about if the students don't like the food being served they can bring their own? Schools are not meant to be restaurants giving out free food to begin with.
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on November 22, 2013 6:11 pm
You cannot expect inner city mothers to make lunches!! Too many other important things on the schedule.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 22, 2013 6:28 pm
Oh, I forgot. Like sleeping in while everyone else goes to work to pay for their kids' lunches.
Submitted by anon (not verified) on November 22, 2013 10:52 pm
you boys done with your little clan group discussion?

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