As many of you know, I’ve long been concerned about the quality of the so-called “a la carte” items sold by my district, Houston ISD (the nation’s seventh largest) in its cafeterias and snack bar lines.
These foods, offered in direct competition with the federally reimbursable meal and sold only to turn a profit, tend to be far lower in nutritional quality than the main meal (which includes fruits, vegetables and usually milk). Think bright blue slushies, fried chips in gooey nacho sauce, Frito Pie, pizza slices, fried chicken sandwiches and ice cream. The presence of a la carte also creates the very real issue of social stigma, such that poor kids don’t want to be seen (or even have their photos taken) in the “uncool” school meal line.
Today on my Houston ISD school food blog, The Spork Report, I describe two potentially encouraging developments which could presage the end of junk food in our cafeterias: the recent, courageous action of two of our school board trustees in objecting to the sale of these foods, as well as a fantastic Houston Chronicle editorial today in which the paper urges HISD to clean up its act.
After years of feeling stonewalled by my district on this issue, I actually feel like the tide might be turning, people.
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