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Students ask SRC for fresher lunch food

By Dale Mezzacappa on Mar 20, 2014 07:50 PM
Photo: USDA.gov

Student activists from Youth United for Change pressed their case Thursday with the School Reform Commission to change lunch vendors to one that serves more fresh and appealing food.

The District "has the opportunity to become a national leader in the campaign to change the way how children eat in school," said Daniel Frye of YUC, a senior at Kensington Urban Education Academy.

He and Cierra Mallette, a student at Edison High School, told members that students often don't eat the "pre-plated" lunch food served in the school cafeteria and recommended that the District hire Revolution Foods, which uses natural ingredients and doesn't freeze its food before serving.

The company would also bring jobs to the city, they said.

"It's important to take our opinion as youth into consideration," Frye said. "We know what we want to eat and what's good for our bodies." YUC has pushed for student involvement in the decision about a food provider.

SRC member Sylvia Simms asked the students whether they see a lot of food wasted, and they said they do see food thrown out and students skipping lunch.

Groups that signed on to the statement urging a contract with Revolution Foods include Asian Americans United, the Dorothy Mann Center at St. Christopher's Hospital, the Jewish Labor Committee, the Philadelphia Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, the PFT, and the Food Trust.

The District now contracts with Maramont Corp. for school lunches. The Maramont contract is one of the District's largest, at $32.5 million annually.

School lunch was the topic of several other speakers. A student from Adaire Elementary School and Chef Kess were among those who urged the SRC to join the "meatless Mondays" movement, both as a health move and one that is more humane to animals. The Humane Society has been leading that campaign locally.

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Comments (3)

Submitted by Alison McDowell (not verified) on March 21, 2014 7:34 am

Hmmm, based on the tweets from last night's meeting, there was A LOT more discussed than this. We rely on the Notebook to provide coverage of ALL the complex issues our schools face. While I'm sure many find the information on healthy lunches useful, it does makes me wonder why other topics were not addressed. Can someone at the Notebook comment on whether or not issues like the school property sales, Blaine/Kelley turnarounds or transparency questions regarding the new high schools is getting covered as well? I fear that people not following on Twitter are only going to get part of the story. Or was that the intent?

Submitted by Barbara McDowell Dowdall (not verified) on March 21, 2014 7:11 am

Missing from this report (35 + speakers) were substantive questions regarding school governance influenced or even directed by corporate conglomerates like Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP), including the "Transformation" of two schools, William D. Kelley and James G. Blaine where a staff, once praised by the principal, will be slashed by 50% and where parents, despite protestations by Dr. Hite and Commissioner Green, basically had no idea what was about to happen; the stark dichotomy between resources for existing high schools like Bodine (30-year-long association with the World Affairs Council ended for lack of a few thousand dollars) and the plans for opening three new high schools (plenty of millions); non consultation with communities when shuttered school buildings are sold; radical changes in how school bus contracts are awarded (favoring large companies); and the revelation that newly-appointed School Reform Commissioner Jiminez recused herself on a resolution involving Mastery Schools because of her attorney husband's association with that entity. Just to name a few possibly equally important as healthy school lunches. Regarding the latter, several individuals spoke in support of Meatless Mondays.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on March 21, 2014 9:43 am

I kinda have to agree with my two colleagues, Allison and Barbara. Barbara made an awesome speech about the lack of transparency, and so did parent Dawn Hawkins, Lisa, and Karel.

They raised serious and pressing issues about the continuing lack of transparency in the district decision-making processes and the undue influence and questionable ethical practices and role of the Philadelphia School Partnership in what is going on.

Dawn's speech was fascinating in its poignancy and humor, yet serious in its essence, about the lack of parent participation in the reconstitution mandates at her child's schools.

I also was very impressed with the speech of Lawrence Jones, head of the Coalition of Charter Schools, CEO of Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School and a Compact Committee member, who spoke about the "domination of charter operators" and the misplaced favoritism being shown to them.

I gave Mr. Jones a standing ovation and I give him my full support. He has my utmost respect.

I believe, we need some incisive investigation and reporting on the goings on. These are serious issues which do matter so very much.

I also believe, they do deserve some answers.

The best leaders are open and honest about everything they do.

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