News

Critics call out SRVUSD lunches

Earthquake response, Cal High update, Native American Heritage Month among other topics

A group of San Ramon Valley residents lambasted the school district's lunch program last week, telling the school board the meals are unhealthy and unacceptable -- and swift changes are needed.

The seven speakers, talking during public comment on non-agendized items Tuesday, criticized the district-provided lunches for being too high in fat, sodium, sugar and calories. They urged the board to seek bids from companies to supply healthier meals and asked that the lunch debate be placed on an upcoming board agenda for public discussion.

"The food that we are serving our students might fulfill the USDA nutrition guidelines, but for the most part, it's not real food. The majority of the menu items are heavily processed, food-like products. They're made by machines and shipped from all over the country," parent Cheryl Iacone told the board in Danville.

"Our children love and respect our schools and implicitly trust that what comes from the school is both safe and healthy," she added. "What are we teaching our children about healthy nutrition when we feed them these fake foods at schools?"

School board president Denise Jennison told the speakers that board members could not respond to the lunch commentary during the meeting because the issue was not listed on the board's posted agenda.

"We are a public board, so if we were to engage in conversation with you about items that were not on the agenda, it would deny the general public the right to know that those things were being discussed," she said before taking citizen input on non-agenda items.

In a follow-up interview the day after the meeting, Jennison said she and district officials take the residents' comments "very seriously."

"The concerns shared by the public (Tuesday) night are valid and merit serious consideration on the part of the district," she said in an email. "We are continually looking at how we can do a better job in offering meals that are both nutritious and appealing for all of our students."

Jennison also noted that Bruce Hall, the district's child nutrition director, was in the audience and heard the residents' feedback.

All food and beverages served by the district meet all state and federal requirements based on the "USDA Dietary Guidelines," according to the district's child nutrition webpage.

"We aim to do the best we can to offer affordable yet tasty meals that provide our students with the nutrients they need to be healthy individuals," the webpage states.

But the speakers Tuesday argued the district isn't doing nearly enough, and they laid into the district about the quality of the lunch meals, as well as the variety.

"Right now, I can't have hot school lunches at school," said Nellie Bates, a Vista Grande Elementary third-grader who cannot eat gluten because of Celiac disease. "I'd really like the chance to eat a nutritious and delicious school lunch that's safe for me along with my friends. Right now, I can't."

Bates added, "I know how hard it is to make food that is safe for me and for other children with serious allergies, but I also know that there are companies who are able to do so."

The lunch critics urged the district to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for vendor companies to supply healthier school lunches.

They've also organized an online petition, through change.org, in support of the same request to the board. The petition had 507 signatures as of early Monday afternoon.

Among the citizen speakers was Danville resident and parent Keith Cosbey, an executive with Choicelunch. The Danville-based company focuses on providing healthy food and drink options to students and currently serves approximately 25,000 students in other school communities, including Menlo Park, Mill Valley and Lafayette, Cosbey said.

"We are thrilled to provide for these students throughout the state of California, and if the district were to submit an RFP for a vended meal program, I'm sure that Choicelunch and other similar companies would be happy to submit a proposal," he added.

Amy Dennis, a mother of two Greenbrook Elementary students, said her oldest son used to eat and enjoy school lunches, but "in the last couple of years, he's said it's so gross and so disgusting he refuses to eat it."

"I believe that our children deserve better food in their lunches," she added. "We're one of the top districts in California ... we should pride ourselves on what we provide for our children to eat at lunch the same way we take pride in the test scores."

In other business during Tuesday's meeting

* Judy Gestring, also speaking during comment on non-agenda items, urged the district to enhance its earthquake preparedness.

"The last two weeks have shaken this community towards understanding the need for thorough school emergency preparation. It's not a matter of if the big quake will hit us, but of when it will occur," she said.

"Having worked in other school districts that held comprehensive earthquake drills, I find it disturbing that San Ramon's version of being prepared is merely to practice duck-and-cover and evacuation," Gestring added. "This is our children's safety and lives, so a minimalist approach is not acceptable."

* Julie Holcomb, a teacher at Alamo's Rancho Romero Elementary, spoke in support of the Barton Reading & Spelling System reading intervention program and its effectiveness with dyslexic students.

"Not only do these children learn to read, but their whole educational experience is transformed when they gain access to the entire curriculum," she said during comment on non-agenda items. She also acknowledged this month is National Dyslexia Awareness Month.

* Sarah Cranford, principal of California High School, led a 20-minute presentation and discussion about recent programs and activities at the San Ramon campus.

* The board adopted a resolution designating November as Native American Heritage Month in the district.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

4 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 26, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Being unfamiliar with the school lunches provided now, what does the menu include? I searched around the school district's website from the link, but came up empty.


14 people like this
Posted by Herman Glates
a resident of Danville
on Oct 26, 2015 at 4:37 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

This is a national problem, thanks to legislation passed by Obama and the other big government do-gooders in Washington.

As is typical, their “hearts” were in the right place, but like most government programs, the law failed to deliver. Kids aren’t eating school lunches and it’s lead to wasted food and money.

Here’s an interesting article by the NY Times “Why Students Hate School Lunches” Web Link


9 people like this
Posted by Pizza
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 26, 2015 at 7:39 pm

A slice of Dominos pizza at a middle school is $3. Do the Math. 8 times 3 is 24 dollars. I'm sure the district pays about 5 bucks for a cheese pizza. Big markup. Just saying.


1 person likes this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Danville
on Oct 27, 2015 at 6:18 am

When you hear a bureaucrat spout something like this it is time to dig deeper. "All food and beverages served by the district meet all state and federal requirements based on the "USDA Dietary Guidelines," according to the district's child nutrition webpage." These parents bringing this to all of our attention have done a great community service. Bureaucrats are famous for hiding behind guidelines that absolve them of any responsibility. The responsibility always falls on those one can never find!


2 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Danville
on Oct 27, 2015 at 8:20 am

My children refuse to eat school food ever since Michelle Obama started her healthy food initiative. In the beginning they would buy the food and throw it away, now they just won’t buy it. They would rather come home with a stomach ache than eat what is served. Very disappointing!


14 people like this
Posted by District Teacher
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 27, 2015 at 9:30 am

Some silly and misguided comments here from both parents at the meeting and commenters on this board. Blaming Michele Obama for our school lunches is ridiculous. I have been teaching in the district for 13 years, and the food served now is drastically improved over what was served when I first began. Children are given many more options, and including fruits and vegetables with their lunches is an important element. Perhaps Marie's children just aren't used to having fruits and vegetables be a part of their meal?

Furthermore, while I sympathize with the student with Celiac disease that spoke at the meeting, students with dietary restrictions are probably best served by bringing their own lunch anyway.

There are so many other more important issues facing our district right now. I wish this effort was placed somewhere else.


2 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 27, 2015 at 9:32 am

Does anyone know the change.org link?


10 people like this
Posted by Mom
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 27, 2015 at 10:14 am

Nonsense--the crappy lunches have less to do with government (blaming Obama? Please!!!) and more to do with what we allow our children to buy. I don't let my children buy the disgusting lunches in this school district b/c they are unhealthy and processed. There are no whole foods in the lunch, and if there are, they are not organic. If everyone stopped allowing thier kids to eat the garbage they serve then there would be no market for it, regardless of the national government. Good luck getting it changed! I would love to see whole, real foods served. Not frozen, processed foods.


Like this comment
Posted by Herman Glates
a resident of Danville
on Oct 27, 2015 at 10:27 am

Herman Glates is a registered user.

Dear District Teacher,

First of all, you should know that I am typing this with my middle finger.

Secondly, Michelle Obama is partly to blame for this fiasco, as she has self-appointed herself as champion of these rules and has been an obstacle to making sensible reforms.

Now why don’t you run along and get back to indoctrinating our kids with all your big government gibberish.


10 people like this
Posted by Healthy Kids Advocate
a resident of Danville
on Oct 27, 2015 at 10:32 am

I'm delighted to see this topic being discussed. The USDA bar is set pretty darn low, folks. Let's not allow that to be the standard for our kids (or anyone). We can and should strive to do better.


8 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 27, 2015 at 10:34 am

Other than one person who said Domino's pizza, nobody can say what's on the menu?


6 people like this
Posted by BB
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 27, 2015 at 11:17 am

To Longtime,

I found the lunch menus on the SRVUSD site.
Or just google SRVUSD lunch menus.
I found alot of hot dogs ,burgers and pizza. They do offer a chicken salad and orange chicken/rice.


5 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Danville
on Oct 27, 2015 at 11:44 am

I may agree with some by saying maybe it’s a coincidence that my children stopped eating school lunches after Obama self-appointed herself as food czar. Nonetheless, I have children on both sides of eating habits (healthy vs. bad), and they all say food was good/okay before and now it is all bad. They also say that a lot of food gets thrown away. What a waste!


12 people like this
Posted by Greg
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 27, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Curios why anyone expects the schools to provide meals let alone quality ones. They have a hard enough time trying to provide a quality education. Attempting to make schools rep[lace responsible parents is the real reason why we have school lunches in the first place. Our children would be better served if the education system got back to educating instead of all these other non learning priorities.


Like this comment
Posted by Anne Marcus
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 27, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Schools all over the US have been complaining about the "new" rules governing school lunches.Some complaints include: lunches are so bad,we throw them out and, there are no allowances given for athletes who need more calories/fats to survive their days.
I saw an interesting comment in the September issue of " Food Network Magazine" on the rules governing snacks available in the Smart Snacks Program: Cheetos Puffs Flamin' Hot are ok but mini cheese wheels and Readi Pac Carrots w/ranch dip are not. Along with the Cheetos,whole grain Rice Krispies Treats are also allowed.
Seems strange that REAL foods are not allowed while all the goodness brought to us by Monsanto is.And,yes, the current FLOTUS had direct input into this program.


8 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 27, 2015 at 2:50 pm

They do not give the kids enough time to eat also. They rush them out like cattle.


17 people like this
Posted by JRM
a resident of Danville
on Oct 27, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Herman.....you are posting rude and angry posts with increasing frequency over the last couple of months, your last post stated you were typing with your middle fingers....what is up with that ? You lace your hatred of all things Obama into most of your posts, relevant or not. Do your family members know you are treating others with such disrespect?

I have had 2 children educated in the district and we always made their lunches so they would have the same healthy food groups we ate at home. For those parents that are raising the issue I would ask....why not simply pack a lunch for your child? District Teacher is spot on in my view, for those in the small minority that have unique dietary needs their parents should ensure they get the correct nutrition by bringing their lunch.


6 people like this
Posted by Artsyone
a resident of Danville
on Oct 27, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Pete, you are so right: There is no time for them to eat! Also, the point about the pizza(and everything else)mark up is true. Why the heck so pricey? The lunches are expensive, and then a la carte stuff is even more.

I make my kid bring now because it's actually cheaper for him to waste a bit of food from our house if he feels finicky.


2 people like this
Posted by Kidjustgraduated
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 28, 2015 at 9:53 am

The problem with school lunches goes way deeper and I would appreciate if this could become a real conversation vs. an Obama attack.
The USDA sets the standards for school lunches/dietary needs. Budget cuts and from when I was still in HS started closing down actual school cafeteria kitchens to allow for less staffing to basic food(aka- becoming Chef Mike"microwave") for reheating food prepared in one larger commercial kitchen and delivered to each school. The introduction of a daily salad bar is fine and dandy but the outsourcing of an overpriced slice of pizza or Subway is always going to be chosen over some slop on a plate/tray. The USDA allows for districts to purchase food for our children to consume that is sold on a tertiary market - not fit for the grocery, and the list goes on.
Food prices have increased everywhere- but my kid stated that the 40 minutes given for lunch at her former HS made it virtually impossible for all 4 grades (same lunch period) to stand in line and get food with any time to eat it- not to mention the pizza/Subway options were often sold out within 10 minutes.
What I wonder is it the SRVUSD Community would be interested and willing to pay more for REAL food prepared fresh daily for their children to eat? When my child went to private school for elementary, we were sent a menu a month in advance and would sit down and she would choose the day/menu that appealed to her and we would sign up for only those days and pay for those days. All others, she would brown bag it.
It's easy to complain and hard to find solutions with all of the various dietary needs/restrictions/cost/availability/interest and budget. My hope is that any new school that gets built in the district will have a full working kitchen with trained staff and truly going to a real food concept and leave the subsidized chain restaurant easy food to when kids are on their own time. Common Core ridiculousness should at least have an upside....


9 people like this
Posted by Enough Already
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Oct 28, 2015 at 10:58 am

I'm with JRM and District Teacher. In the history of mankind has there ever been a parent that truly expected that a school lunch would be healthy? Are these parents feeding their kids highly nutritious meals at home? And if so, why wouldn't they just make their kids a lunch so they control what their kids eat? Clearly they have time to complain and rally, so why not spend that time making your kid a lunch?

This overblown sense of entitlement is just insane.


4 people like this
Posted by Louise
a resident of Danville
on Oct 28, 2015 at 1:28 pm

Michelle Obama started the healthy lunch programs thruout the US. It was her pet project as First Lady. Most of the kids don't eat the food, there is a huge amount of money wasted and lots of food thrown out at most schools. There was a program on public tv showing just how much the kids hated the food! Younger children are finicky eaters. They have limited palates and and they can eat good food at home. Let the parents feed them what they think is right and the schools should feed them food that is geared to their taste buds and if it is healthy that is a plus! Stop wasting taxpayers money. All these programs are subsidized by taxpayers.


2 people like this
Posted by Alicia
a resident of Danville
on Oct 28, 2015 at 6:56 pm

All Presidents' spouses choose a project. Mrs. Obama couldn't have started her First Lady duties with an anti-smoking project. Teen pregnancy would have been too controversial. So I wonder what her children's lunch options are(and the cost) at their exclusive school.


2 people like this
Posted by JRM
a resident of Danville
on Oct 28, 2015 at 8:37 pm

Obesity in America is a matter of concern....these last two posts ...Louise and Alicia...remind me of the late George Carlin's remark as follows......"remember how stupid the average American is....and then remember there is half again dumber than they are"............the expenses of our fat citizens incurring inevitable expensive medical treatments will cost way more the any wars we wage in the long them.


6 people like this
Posted by San Ramon Parent
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 29, 2015 at 9:05 am

Honestly,after reading this article I am SHOCKED!! My children came from a different district, and the free and reduced lunch program is to help those families in need. Not to cater to every kids allergy or desire. As a parent, you should respect that the program is overall a service for kids who are in need. Just because this district has RICH FAMILIES that can afford to spoil their children with healthier food, you should not be so hard onthe program. My kids say the food here is much better than Dublin and they have choices...I feel like the parents are trying to make this a catering business....If your child can't eat lunch because of an allergy then pack their lunch each day...If my child had special needs, I wouldn't go crying to the district for special privileges...This is simply a few rich parents with nothing better to do but complain. Try volunteering in the kitchen or at the schools and see what the REAL NEEDS are!!!


7 people like this
Posted by Robert Oxenburgh
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 29, 2015 at 10:40 am

The district has the daily menus here:Web Link

Looks very good.

I used to run a school daily lunch program for 500. It you want truly healthy food (all you can eat antibiotic free chicken e.g, whole wheat pizzas, organic salad bar, soup station, etc.) it cannot be done for less than $6 per lunch.

It's no easy task. I applaud all the hard working kitchen staff in schools that prepare everything from fresh ingredients on site.


1 person likes this
Posted by Robert Oxenburgh
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 29, 2015 at 12:53 pm

The 40 minute school lunch break should be considered a clandestine classroom that teaches healthy eating habits. Taste buds change their preferences in a couple of weeks. Note how taste varies around the world.


Like this comment
Posted by Progressive
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 29, 2015 at 6:18 pm

I just came to the conclusion that Glates is a FOX news parrot. Such ignorant and hurtful comments. Only FOX could give Glates his education. Conservatives suck.


3 people like this
Posted by DanvilleRob
a resident of Danville
on Oct 29, 2015 at 8:03 pm

It's school lunch. Get over yourselves "Danville People". Really???? Don't you have a lawn to water?


8 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Danville
on Oct 30, 2015 at 9:28 am

Dear Progressive: The way I see it, a liberal is the one who will go out and condemn a person or business for their faith; a conservative will just voice their opinion. A traditionalist will say marriage is between one man, one women, and God, and will live their life that way without pushing their morals and values on anyone else; a liberal will destroy that person, their family, and business for their belief by any means possible.


2 people like this
Posted by Herman Glates
a resident of Danville
on Oct 30, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

JRM,

I like you.

Actually, I like to annoy you. How many years have you been annoyed at me? A long time, right? At least back to when this website was still called the Danville Express.

Let me clue you in on something: I come on this site to make myself laugh. You asked about my “typing with my middle finger” comment? I saw that on my daughter’s Facebook feed. She thought it was funny and so did I, so I decided to try it out here. I guess nobody else thought it was funny. But so what? It accomplished what I wanted. It made me laugh. As George Bush would say, “Mission Accomplished.”

I injected Obama into this thread because this fiasco is his fault. He passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 which is the reason why SRVSD lunches stink. Obama forced all school districts nationwide to comply with these rules. This program’s one-size-fits-all nutritional standards have not decreased childhood obesity. Since 2010, obesity has actually increased by 2.1% among kids between 12 and 19 years old.

Here’s an idea: Let the school districts decide what to serve for lunch.

Freedom of choice. What a concept.

P.S. I love it when little liberals play the “Fox News” card. Typically, it’s because they don’t have any good arguments.


Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of Danville
on Oct 30, 2015 at 4:52 pm

Easy solution:
MAKE YOUR KIDS LUNCH YOURSELF !!!!! Organic this, gluten free that...and BTW they will likely throw it in the garbage anyways. They're KIDS.


2 people like this
Posted by Super Dumb Fox News Guy
a resident of Danville
on Oct 30, 2015 at 11:34 pm

I smell a #FreeHealthySchoolLunchesMatterFortheDisenfranchised campaign brewing!Oh wait ...
Meh, the school lunches are pretty average or maybe a bit above, per my Junior. A few more pickles would be good. And true - the kids may be better off packing [a lunch, that is]. But the larger point is that more students than ever get a ... "Free Lunch". This proves the adage, "THERE'S NO FREE LUNCH" was actually wrong. So, these lunches are going nowhere and will never be comparable to Whole Foods. It's just more control via
'entitlement' the Government exerts on individual lives, in the most subtle of ways. Soon, schools will feed all students. And it will be poorly managed by thousands in a large office in Northern Virginia. But I digress - I say alternate packed lunch with the cafeteria offering! Bon apetit!


1 person likes this
Posted by JRM
a resident of Danville
on Oct 31, 2015 at 8:50 pm

I guess the bad news is Herman has mated, and has offspring.
YIKES.....


Like this comment
Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Nov 1, 2015 at 9:44 am

Mrs. Obama hardly looks like the most trim, physically fit individual. Why not have those who actually have credibility on an issue set the standards? It is like when Oprah " educates" us on her latest diet fad. Moreover, it is widely reported that Mr. Obama still smokes cigarettes in the whitehouse. Smoking is so much more of a health problem than whether little Johnny has a cookie with his lunch.


Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Danville
on Nov 1, 2015 at 1:36 pm

Glates is still being rude and uninformed. "KidsJustGraduated" has it right.

Federal rules to make school lunches more nutritious is not the problem. The problem is that, by outsourcing food prep to for-profit companies that serve food based more on convenience than taste and nutrition, we get poor quality lunches that the kids generally don't like.

My kids like salad. They don't like the poor quality, old,ragged stuff that appears in the salad bars at their schools. And really, did we need "french toast sticks" as a main course for lunch. Whose lame-brained idea was that?


6 people like this
Posted by IM2Curious...
a resident of Danville
on Nov 2, 2015 at 8:21 am

Herman:

"...Let me clue you in on something: I come on this site to make myself laugh. You asked about my typing with my middle finger" comment? I saw that on my daughter's Facebook feed. She thought it was funny and so did I, so I decided to try it out here. I guess nobody else thought it was funny."

I thought it was funny,too!!!!


Like this comment
Posted by Did I say that Outloud
a resident of Danville
on Nov 8, 2015 at 2:21 pm

What ever happened to bringing lunch from home .....or is that just not trendy enough? Why have schools picked up the responsibility of properly feeding the student - so many parents whine about schools not being the "parents" when it comes to decisions yet it seems the simplest form of parenting, providing food, is one the parents have gladly turned over and then whine about. We are so screwed up on basic priorities...the school responsibility is academics.....and if you don't like the fact pizza is $3 a slice for your kiddo, don't give them the money to buy it - hand them a brown bag lunch from home.


Like this comment
Posted by Marie
a resident of Danville
on Nov 8, 2015 at 3:35 pm

To Did I say that Outloud:

Speaking for myself…I am just voicing my opinion, not “whining”. I never said I want my school to parent. I give my kids the choice to bring or buy, I’m not “gladly turning it over and whining”. I’m just stating facts, that my children used to like the school food and there is a lot of wasted food.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Premarital and Couples: Tips for Hearing (Listening) and Being Known
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,136 views

Alameda County Grand Jury calls out supervisors
By pleasantonweekly.com | 7 comments | 958 views