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What parents want L.A.'s school board to work on: students' lunch

What parents want L.A.'s school board to work on: students' lunch
LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer addresses questions from parents at Vine Elementary School in Hollywood. (Sonali Kohli)
Liliana Rodriguez was alarmed when her son told her he bit into a meat patty and felt his teeth come into contact with frozen meat.
Tuesday morning, she found a way to air her concerns when Steve Zimmer visited her child’s school, Vine Elementary School, in Hollywood. Zimmer stopped by for the first day to talk to parents, in a conversation that switched between Spanish and English.

"I'm a very involved parent," said Rodriguez, mother of a fifth-grader at Vine Street, and a 12-year-old who went to Vine Street and is now in 8th grade at a different school. Rodriguez quickly became accustomed to her sons' food complaints, and initially tuned them out. But she started taking their gripes seriously about three years ago, when she drank from a school-supplied milk carton and it didn't taste quite fresh.

Her sons told her that the food is often undercooked. Sometimes, they bite into patties and feel something frozen. "My kids don't like to eat at school very often because the foods are frozen." She says this is a concern for the kids, but she also worries about wasted food.

As a result, she says, "I prepare lunches." Sandwiches, mostly.

She's heard other parents complain, but this was the first time she has spoken up. She added that a school employee told her that apples don't get washed, and complained to Zimmer about that.

Rodriguez has lived in Hollywood for 20 years. You don't just watch out for your own kids, she said, but ”you also watch out for everybody in the community."
New Principal Kurt Lowry said that the school is concerned any time a parent has a complaint, and tries to determine if the problem is legitimate. "If there is a problem, we'll make sure that we address it immediately."
He added that the school had already put in calls to food services immediately after hearing from Rodriguez. "We don't even know if there is a problem,” he said. But he wants to get to the bottom of the mystery of the frozen patties.

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