Since Los Angeles Unified Schools are closed in response to the Coronavirus for the foreseeable future, they are keeping their student body fed with Grab & Go food centers set up in about 60 locations around town.
Click on any photo to see larger.
Click here to find one near you. Hours may vary so check with your local Grab & Go Center. Also, I'm not sure if your student has to be there to receive a meal or just the parent or guardian.
My closest one is in the Baldwin Hills area at Susan Miller Dorsey High School. My neighbor Bob told me about it. He usually gets there before 8am to get a couple of meals for his 10-year-old daughter, and parents get a meal too!
When I was 10 years old living in Port O'Connor, Texas, during grade school we would sometime walk home to eat.
My Report Card: a "D" in Religion and an "A" in Conduct...go figure.
My grandmother Big Mama taught Mom to make Shrimp and Rice for lunch. And here's the video where Mom teaches me a thing or two.
Well, I can't pass this deal up! For just a week I decided to see what the kids are fed these days in school for breakfast and lunch - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The first day I arrived near closing time at 11am just to make sure I was not taking anyone's needed meal. There seemed to be plenty of bags on the foldout tables even at closing time. I asked one of the volunteers if they ever run out and she gave me an emphatic "NO."
The GIF above is a drive-thru Susan Miller Dorsey High School's Grab & Go.
And just so you know I only tried one breakfast and lunch meal to shoot then taste five days for research purposes. I gave any leftovers to my neighbor Bob and his daughter. I'm no longer a fan of chocolate milk and small bags of plastic-wrapped carrot and celery sticks.
The pickup site is run very efficiently since all the meals are prepacked and ready to go. This is not a cafeteria setting, it's more like a drive-thru window, with no more than 2 or 3 cars in line at a time - you are in and out in less than 5 minutes.
When you drive up or walk in, you are asked: "How many children and adults?" That's it. You open your back door and load in a plastic bag that includes breakfast and lunch for each person. The student does not need to be here at this site, just an adult to pick up the meals. It's on the honor system so no High School ID is needed.
A local E-news site here in Los Angeles called LAist featured my local Grab & Go High School in an info video below.
So what are the kids fed at school these days? Well, for this month I'll fill you in with a Breakfast and Lunch High School Meal Review each week.
Day 1 Breakfast - Craisins, Milk, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, and Applesauce.
For my first meal, it was cereal and dried fruit, with a lot of milk of course. I've reduced my cow milk intake quite a bit since my grade and high school daze. I guess it's a nod to childhood obesity that all the milk they hand out is low-fat or fat-free.
I added a handful of Craisins to the Cereal but cheated adding Hemp milk (from my local 99c only Store) to mine.
I like Craisins and I get mine from my local Dollar Tree. I like Cherry Infused Craisins the best. However, there is added cane sugar, darn it!
Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal is s sugar rush, compared to my usual breakfast diet of oatmeal. After whole grain wheat and flour, the next ingredient is sugar. Now I'm sure the sugar amount is much less than Froot Loops and Cap'n Crunch we had as kids.
The plastic container holds plenty of cereal for a single serving. Cinnamon flavor is upfront and I wolfed it down - kinda like having a soggy cinnamon roll without all that frosting.
The main Cinnamon Toast Crunch ingredient is whole wheat flour but, look further down the ingredient list for fructose and dextrose, oh boy. I'll stick to oatmeal, thank you. You can read the Fooducate Health Tracker for Cinnamon Toast Crunch rating info here.
Apple Sauce is just like I remember it. No chunks just blended stewed and blended apple, water and natural flavor (?)
The sauce is sweet but not too much and has an intense flavor, so I enjoyed it and like novelist Proust's French butter cake, the Madeleine, a few spoonfuls in, and you are brought back to an earlier time of childhood.
And to keep the kids hooked there are interactive ZeeZee cartoon characters paired with each product in their food arsenal.
Here's Zandrew's bio: Touchdown! Zandrew loves spending time on the football field, tossing the ball around, and tackling his friends. He also enjoys basketball, baseball, and soccer. Playing sports can take a lot out of you, but Zandrew’s always ready for more. When you need help getting active, or just want to spend some time outside, Zandrew’s the Zee Zee for you.
Day 1 Lunch - Chicken (or Turkey) and Cheese Sandwich, Cheez-It, Tangerine, and Orange Juice.
And for lunch, it's sammie-time: thinly sliced meat and a slab of American cheese.
I heated it up on the grill and added slices of pickle, mayo, and mustard. It was tasty with condiments.
In my high school in Gonzales, Louisiana we had a local rice dish called Jambalaya for lunch in the cafeteria almost every week.
I was surprised to find junk-food Cheez-It in the lunch bag. Everyone has had Cheez-It at least once? They're cheese crackers that are American made and as a snack goes back to the 1920's, and while no Cheetos it can be addictive enough.
I've never had Juicy Juice before. This one is an Orange Medley. The ingredient list is a bit surprising with sweet potato and carrot juices, too. At least there is no added sugar.
It is a light orange flavor upfront and after a few sips, I could barely detect sweet potato and carrot flavors lingering. While a perplexing fruit and veggie combo, I liked it.
This is my flashback school lunch experience: whole milk, soggy spaghetti with mystery meat sauce, overcooked green beans and corn, greasy fried chicken, Salisbury steak, fish sticks, mashed potatoes and gravy, hot dogs and hamburgers, Sloppy Joe's, 60's TV dinner-style enchiladas, a lump of meatloaf, and fruit salad from a can.
For reviews or info about the purveyors of these food items you can check out Fooducate, just enter a product food name and see what pops up about it: https://www.fooducate.com/
And you can learn about Los Angeles Unified School District's Cafe LA (which supplies a lot of the packaged food) here: https://achieve.lausd.net/cafela
And come back next week for Day 2's High School Meals - I'm sure there will be plenty of milk.
Be safe & keep your distance!