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LA schools go back to basics in new lunch menu
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two years ago, the Los Angeles Unified School District tried to spruce up its lunch menu, with cafeteria ladies dishing out chicken tandoori, sushi, and broccoli and beef with brown rice.

The kids hated it.

So the nation's second-largest school district went back to basics. The district overhauled the menu last year after students turned away from unfamiliar fare. This year's menu will feature enchiladas, lasagna and beef sliders.

"There's nothing that the kids said, out and out, 'Get rid of that,'" Food Services chief David Hinkle told the Daily News of Los Angeles.  "We're trying to keep the menu cycle the same and interject a few new things here and there, based on student feedback."

The district will try to sneak some goodness into the food. The fare, which will include taco salad and chicken-and-waffles, is designed to cut down on fat, salt and sugar and to meet federal nutritional guidelines.

"I'm really excited about the savory waffle," Binkle said. "It's a potato and chives, yeast-raised waffle with no sugar added. Students tried it this summer, and I believe that it will be a successful product."

A few selections were created by students who won district-run culinary contests held last year.

Guadalupe Gonzalez of Panorama High School came up with a breakfast tart containing fresh fruit and fruit syrup.

West Adams High School students Esther Segura and Jose Landaverde contributed the "Tex-Mex Corn Bread and Black Bean Mountain," accompanied by a cucumber-and-tomato salad and a warm pear-and-raisin compote.

The school district also will expand its Breakfast in the Classroom program that offers students a packaged meal with juice and milk.

However, cereal was dropped from the menu because teachers complained about the mess from flakes and crumbs.

Overall, the district sold 114 million meals last year, although students threw out nearly 7.5 percent of the food. That was down from nearly 9 percent wastage a year earlier.

"Our function is to provide nutrients for education," Binkle said. "In my mind the district is supporting this. The focus of nutrition is as a key component and a key role in providing children the ability to be able to learn."