[slideshow] You think kids don't appreciate good tasting healthy food?
I was sitting in the Ralph Bunche House this afternoon, listening to a few of our Youth Leaders prep food for a tasting for Jefferson High's parent night. They were saying something about the rice being gross and undercooked. "What are you TALKING about?" I shouted out to them. Just a half hour earlier, I'd walked in the kitchen to find our ACE culinary programs assistant, Andres Chopin, pouring a beautifully cooked batch of brown Basmati into a bowl.
Andres came into the office, "No no, they are talking about the state rice." State rice? I wondered. "School lunch," he clarified, and the girls followed in to explain... At least 10 times last semester they said, school lunch consisted of a fried rice dish which was, "raw, like not even cooked. Only the middle was cooked." [Must have been the microwave effect.]
"Did you eat it anyway? Were you hungry?" I asked. "Yeah but, it was dry around the edge. And there was chicken but in the middle of each piece was kinda hard." "Were there any veggies in it?" I hoped. "I dunno, I think, maybe bell peppers?" They shrugged, as if they couldn't have bothered to go digging for peppers in that dismal par-cooked rice and chicken dish.
See, THAT'S what gives healthy food a bad name in school lunch rooms - so called healthy dishes that aren't even made in local kitchens, but rather factory produced elsewhere then reheated (poorly) on site. You think kids won't want and be willing to eat healthier school lunches? SURE they will, but these kids have taste. They know good food. Their parents make it. They are learning to cook it.
And, you can be SURE it's NOT that kids don't like healthy food, when they dump their raw-ish school lunch rice into the garbage bins. They just want decent tasting, well prepared healthy food. The tides are turning kids. You KNOW, at RootDown LA, we can throw down great tasting healthy food with little effort and at a cost comparable to a fast food meal.
Note - we didn't ASK these kids to compare our veggie fried rice with LAUSD's. They clearly couldn't help but notice.