In a taste test of new lunch items last year at the Long Beach Unified School District, the “fiesta salad” received a nearly 73 percent approval rating. One student even declared that the dish of pinto beans, cilantro, corn, tomatoes and cayenne pepper was “better than McDonald’s.” Yet the salad was a flop when the district put it on the menu this year.
Long Beach Unified isn’t the only district in California dealing with lunchtime trial and error. In an effort to feed kids healthier foods, new federal nutrition standards require schools to offer more fruits and vegetables, regulate calories, and emphasize whole grains, among other changes.
A new statewide survey shows that while students overwhelmingly support the new nutrition standards, most are tossing the foods they don’t like. About 40 percent of students say they eat school lunches in their entirety, according to the survey commissioned by The California Endowment, which provides funding to a number of media organizations, including California Watch.