School lunch news: California poll, Kansas high school video, and praise for OUSD

Staff Photojournalist Jane Tyska
Photo by Jane Tyska/Staff

A recent statewide poll released by The California Endowment, a health foundation that promotes nutritious school lunches, found that 82 percent of students and 91 percent of parents surveyed support the latest changes in school lunch nutrition standards, overall. The changes include a greater variety of produce, more whole grains, portion size guidelines and calorie limits.

After hearing summarized arguments for and against calorie restriction, about 64 percent of students and 56 percent parents said they thought the calorie limits should continue, the California Endowment reported.

Students who made headlines with this music video parody, “We Are Hungry,” seem to feel differently. They argue that active students, especially those who play sports, simply need more fuel. (Some student-athletes at Berkeley High told me the same thing a few years ago, when I was doing a profile on Ann Cooper, who transformed the district’s lunch offerings.)

A news release from the Endowment responded to the objections raised in the video with a quote from the public opinion research company that conducted the survey:

“It is simply not true that students are rejecting the new school lunches, either because they’re too small or for any other reason,” said Dave Metz, a partner at Maslin, Maullin, Metz, & Associates, the public opinion research agency that conducted the survey on behalf of The Endowment. “To the contrary, there is overwhelming evidence that California students and parents prefer the new lunches and want the nutrition standards retained.”

The poll included 600 phone interviews with parents and about 500 internet interviews with students in grades 7 to 12.

As I reported recently, Oakland Unified is making ongoing school lunch upgrades. It’s also included money for upgraded kitchens and a central commissary in its budget for Measure J, should the local school bond measure pass in November.

In other school lunch news: The California Endowment awarded Oakland Superintendent Tony Smith with the “Health Happens Hero” award and went on to praise the food service department, directed by Jennifer LeBarre:

Oakland Unified has long been recognized as a school meals innovator and a model for large urban districts. As part of Superintendent Smith’s broader strategy to reform the school district, Oakland Unified launched a universal free breakfast program in 2010 and has steadily increased student participation in its meal programs since then. Superintendent Smith has also worked to acquire new cooking equipment, purchase more locally grown food, increase the number and availability of salad bars, partner with community organizations to develop a long-term for revolutionizing school food in Oakland, and upgrade meal service facilities so more campuses can prepare fresh meals from scratch. Oakland Unified is also well-known for the quality of its menu offerings—new entrees for the 2012-2013 academic year include grass-fed beef hot dogs, hand-made chicken enchiladas, and black bean/tofu vegetarian enchiladas.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Nontcair

    Once again we see public education being used as a *political* institution.

    Teaching Johnny what RD-certified junk food to eat has NOTHING to do with teaching him how to read.

  • Allison Rodman

    Shame on you! Your response is political and reductionist. I challenge you to talk to a first period teacher and find out what it is like to teach kids who have had universal breakfast. But you could even go to some real facts.
    All the research and outcomes show better attendance, fewer behavioral problems, greater engagement.MORE LEARNING. Jennifer LeBarre of OUSD has increased whole fruits and vegetables by 25% this year! And kept on budget. And saved money in a rainy day fund. And is paying back Nutrition Services portion of the deficit. All I can say is thank you OUSD for sticking in there and doing the hard work to figure out how to do a better job.
    Why be so negative? I really don’t understand.

  • Yazstremski

    Allison…ignore Nontclair…he’s on every single thread saying the exact same thing. The rest of us laugh at him, feel free to join in. When you engage with him he’ll post and post and post…he never says anything new or original. He isn’t a parent like we are, he’s just looking for attention, don’t give it to him.

  • Nontcair

    [OUSD has] also included money for upgraded kitchens and a central commissary in its budget for Measure J, should the local school bond measure pass in November.

    Here we go again.

    Yes, I repeat myself. But that’s because the story is everywhere and always the same: a school district spending money (and seeking higher taxes) for purposes totally UNRELATED to their primary mission of teaching Johnny how to read.

    Take Yaz’ advice. Don’t engage me. But since you defend the program, what’s to stop OUSD from seeking unlimited funds to provide any service which it deems beneficial? Why not:

    a school boutique to provide designer winter clothes?
    a schoolhouse lawyer to bring civil actions against derelict parents?
    issue all students a bulletproof vest and a tablet computer?
    issue all students a voucher for a free trip to the Louvre?

  • Nontcair

    Oakland Unified has long been recognized as a school meals innovator ..

    The “Health Happens Here” award?!

    This is beyond ridiculous.

    What’s next? Recognition of the Captain of the Titanic for the innovation of providing his passengers with a midnight, cold water swim to help them burn off their high-calorie rapasts?

  • Nontcair

    new entrees for the 2012-2013 academic year include grass-fed beef hot dogs, hand-made chicken enchiladas, and black bean/tofu vegetarian enchiladas.

    This sounds like the Gourmet Traffic School, but at least there one learns how to read the road signs.

  • Nextset

    I wish they would have traffic school in OUSD.

    As far as the feedings go – We must have been deprived. My schools, back in the day, featured brown bag luches from home. You could have your mothers make them – or you could put together your own brown bag lunch from whatever was lying around the house. Then go to school and maybe trade something.

    What we are seeing here is the schools trying to supplant the parent(s). Another case of the government being Mommy and Daddy without formally taking the child into care and cutting off unfit parents. That is a mistake.

    For one thing when you do this you have the child continuing to identify with the unfit parent and to emulate them. If the parent is actually unfit, everybody needs to own up to it including the kid. The parent would be cut off and disrespected. That is a healthy response – and the child finds someone else to obey and to emulate.

    This is why the later generations end up worse than the parents.

    I am not in favor of schools providing meals and other necessities of life including school supplies for children not made wards of the state. If Johnny can’t read for any reason including being hungry – Johnny should be transferred out of the normal school to a continuation school that is set up to deal with bad families and bad students. That would include working with CPS to yank the kid or to discipline the parents in court to do their jobs or else.

    When and if the kiddies were stable and functioning they could apply to a normal school.

    That way the schools the good students from good families go to are actually worthy of the name school.

    Like it used to be, and how it used to be.

  • Nextset

    Speaking of physicality in the kiddies, and biodiversity which government schools pretend doesn’t exist, here’s an article from the AP about stats that Black Boys as well as girls are heading into puberty at 9.


    The other races do not have puberty onset so early. The races are different for various reasons.

    The thread here is nutrition. I wonder if there is any discussion of the different needs of the kids at different ages – and how all this produces different behavior and different academic success.

    Probably not.

    Brave New World!

  • Nontcair

    A recent statewide poll released by The California Endowment ..

    Total leftists.

  • Nontcair

    Ann Cooper, who transformed the district’s lunch offerings.

    Here we go again. Public education as a *political* institution.

    There’s a long list of special interest groups who work to push their particular agenda on the captive (forced to be there) public school student audience.

    Unfortunately, all too often they get the chance.

  • Nontcair

    This article was “planted” by backers of Prop J.

    Take a look at what Prop J is explicitly intended to be funding.

    Once again we see the special interests at work manufacturing consent.

  • Nontcair

    “It is simply not true that students are rejecting the new school lunches”, said a partner at Maslin, Maullin, Metz, & Associates, the public opinion research agency that conducted the survey

    These guy are bunch of left wing lobbyists and propagandists.

    They back left wing issues and candidates, especially matters which promote BIGGER government. Indeed, a few of the guys whose names appear on the letterhead have spent *years* “working” in WASHINGTON.

    Take a look at their website. It actually shows that many of their “clients” are *government* agencies. This entry about sums it up:

    Mr. Fairbank has helped school districts and community colleges win voter approval for over two hundred bond and special tax measures. In total, these measures, coupled with statewide educational propositions, have provided more than $50 billion in funding for school construction and academic improvements for elementary, high school and post-secondary education.

    Can you believe this?

    Once again we see the government using *our* tax dollars to hire “consultants” (their friends) at HIGH fees to work for even *more* government.


  • http://FYI-nameispseudonym G. Onons

    Parents assume students are eating the “free” breakfast and lunches, but they are not because of “bland” taste or “strange” offerings Bkf-cold, paste-white bagel & cream cheese and Lch-bland-taste Pizza. Many Students equate blandness to “nasty” and will not eat it. This is especially true for Ethnic families that culturally use hot spices and multiple seasonings. I only include the above sentence to show why students in high-ethnic middle schools may be “non-eaters” not suggesting menu changes, just addressing preparation for mass consumption. Additionally, few if any parents provide lunch for students eligible for a “free” lunch.

    Significant numbers of Middle School students 6th,7th, 8th grades) do not eat breakfast or lunch. All OUSD Middle Schools are Closed Campuses. Most students have a mandatory 9 period day, 8/8:30 AM to 4:30/5 PM schedule(some also have a required 7:30/8:00 AM assigned tutorial with the classroom a teacher).

    True a small “snack” (fruit juice 21 g sugar to 24 g Carbos)”No Sugar Added” Fruit Juice & a very small bag of chips/cookie with “once in a great while” fresh fruit is provided during an after-school Support Class 3:00 and 4:00 PM with 1 more class until 5:00 PM for “Enrichment” activities. No wonder that they are bored, lethargic,disruptive and/or unruly.

    Most/Many will not have a full year of PE or Tech class which alternate in an AY. Instead double “academic doses” of English and either Eng Lang Dev /ENG SprBrd, based on CST scores. Guess what they hate, English! Most/some mid-sch have a daily M-F, mandatory schedule of 9 classes, with 5 min between classes & a 25 min lunch. On Minimum days(usually Wed, maybe Fri) Academic Support is usually excluded and Enrichment(team sports, art, drama, etc) is extended 1:30 to 3:00 PM, allowing teachers to meet/collaborate/PD. I think most Non-OUSD adults would be shocked at these mandatory “modern” school schedule for students, especially 6th graders.

    Students are viewed as “Widgets” and educators are the “Manufacturers” following a planned script/schedule, not of their making, with sole accountability and liability. Students and parents/guardians are not held academically accountable and are immune from the non-monitoring of necessary additives required(homework, academic environs)in production and inspection(custody and control)required. They bear no liability for “Recalls of Academically Defective Widgets”. Only the Mid Sch teacher, who has them 55 min 4 days a week and 25 min on 1 day on the “Academic Assembly Line” is solely responsible for the “Widgets Academic Failures”.

    Not one adult would accept this schedule/liability as a condition of continued employment. Any wonder why there is a teacher shortage after mandatory (Teach for America) contracts expire for new teachers? In fact these Assembly Line employment mandates and conditions violate many US/CA Labor, Commerce and Contract Laws, are inherently harmful and therefore unlawful-Oops, not for Stu/Teachers on the Widget Education Assembly Line.