Two youngsters at WISH charter school get friendly with a resident chick.
School-lunch reform has become one of the rallying cries of the good food movement. It is also a subject of great interest to me personally. Food Forward plans to devote an entire episode to the subject. It is a pretty easy cause to get behind, right? I mean, who can argue against feeding kids healthy, fresh food? Unless you’re the federal government or a member of the industrial agricultural complex, just about everybody supports school lunch reform. The tricky part is actually pulling it off.
I spent two days in L.A. recently and visited the tiny WISH charter school in the Westchester neighborhood, where I met David Binkle, deputy director of the L.A. Unified School District’s food-service program. Because many schools lack even basic kitchen facilities, the solution isn’t simply preparing healthier food for kids. First, you have to figure out where to make the food. Then you’ve got to find a way to pay for it. Before WISH opened, a dedicated parent spearheaded efforts to create a healthy food-service program. The school contracted Revolution Foods, an Oakland-based company that makes healthy foods at centralized kitchens and then delivers them to school sites. WISH, a K-5 school, is incorporating a school garden into their curriculum. They’re also installing a chicken coop for Fluffy, a much-loved chicken.
After my trip to WISH, I met Binkle at Newman Nutrition Center, the food-services hub of the mighty LAUSD. The facility opened in 1979 and originally made 8,000 lunches a day for 50 schools. Today, it prepares 22,000 meals for more than 425 schools, many of which have no kitchens.