Business Administration Education Guide

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Kids take on lunch lady -- and win

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AP) -- Even someone who believes you can fight city hall might think twice before taking on the lunch lady. But some second-graders who raised their voices over reheated frozen green beans are being rewarded with tastier vegetables.
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Pupils are beginning to speak up about the quality of food at school cafeterias.

The menu at William V. Wright Elementary School is getting a makeover after Constantine Christopulos' class went on a poignantly polite letter-writing campaign aiming to see less of that particular vegetable in the cafeteria.

"A little boy said, `Anything, anything, I'll even eat broccoli,"' said Connie Duits, the lunch lady. "So that one touched my heart."

The children were careful to offer praise as they expressed their concerns.

"Dear Mrs. Duits, The food is so yummy and yummy. But there are one problem. It is the green beans," wrote Zhong Lei.

"We love the rest but we hate the green beans," wrote Viviann Palacios.

The Las Vegas students undertook the exercise in mini-democracy after the class read a book called "Frindle," in which a boy contemplates organizing a boycott of the cafeteria.

"I asked the kids, 'Is that a respectful way of doing it?"' Christopulos said. "And they said, 'Oh, not at all."'

As a result of the students' campaign, the food service department of the Clark County School District sent staff to the school to see what alternatives they preferred.

With a handful of reporters watching, two dozen students sat down Monday to a veritable salad bar of cooked, frozen and canned vegetables, from baby corn to cherry tomatoes, and filled out a survey.

Because of cost restrictions, the children's only real choices were between canned and frozen green beans, corn, cooked or raw carrots and cooked or cold peas.

Corn and carrots were popular; cooked peas, not so much.

"The cooked peas, it's warm and all, but inside of it, it's all soft and stuff and I don't like it," said MacKenzie Rangel.

Brenden Lucas said he liked the raw carrots, "Because it's hard and crunchy."

Some children got downright prolific when asked to write what other foods they would like for lunch or breakfast. Viviann requested "stake" and lobster, while Logan Strong wanted "chocolate filled panda cookies" and "chicken cordon blue."

While not all the requests would be accepted -- and green beans would still occasionally be served -- district supervisor Sue Hoggan said the survey will help district dietitians "tweak" the menu.

"They were so excited to get a response back," Christopulos said. "I taught them the pen is mightier than the sword, and hopefully they remember that forever."

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