STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Students are complaining about school lunches. And in Chicago, school officials are listening. After complaints about nasty nachos and mystery meats and oddly colored chicken patties, the Chicago Board of Education will be making changes to the school breakfast and lunch programs that feed hundreds of thousands of students every day. NPR's David Schaper reports.
DAVID SCHAPER: These Chicago high school students don't mind meeting me in the hallway outside of their school's cafeteria during their lunch period, because they say there's really nothing inside of the cafeteria that appeals to them.
M: We have nachos, pizza with cheese and grease all over it.
M: I would have to say nasty and disgusting. I mean, freezing cold, rotten at times. The fruit is sometimes rotten.
M: Well, I couldn't eat the pizza, I tasted it once and I got really sick. The chicken patties, they got like, spots on them, so I stopped eating that.
SCHAPER: The students add that the school meals make them feel sluggish, tired, and affect not only their performance in the classroom but on the track, volleyball court, and in other after-school activities, too. Here's sophomore Theresa DeLaRosa.
M: Yeah, kind of, because you need food in your body, you know, to keep you focused, you know. That's what keeps you going in the day. And if you don't eat, then, you know, you're blank.
SCHAPER: These students are so upset with the poor quality of their cafeteria food that they went before the Chicago Board of Education last month to urge the board to make the school meals healthier. Teresa Onstott told the board that for tens of thousands of low-income students in the city, school is often one of the few places they should be able to eat well.
M: Parents rely on schools to give their children nutritious meals, not tan-colored slop, hard bread, and juice full of sugar in some non- biodegradable and hazardous plastic bottles.
SCHAPER: Louise Esiain heads up nutrition support services for Chicago Public School and says beginning next fall, there will be a greater variety of vegetables offered in school lunches, with more dark-green and orange veggies and fewer starchy ones. Nachos will be served only once a week instead of every day, and there will be more whole grains, too. And at breakfast, Esiain says, the days of doughnuts and Pop-Tarts are numbered.
M: No breakfast items that will be served will contain any dessert or candy-type ingredients.
SCHAPER: David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.