Berkeley High halts organic lunch program

The Associated Press
Monday September 30, 2002

Berkeley High School students will not be getting gourmet organic lunches anymore. 

Students have gone back to fast food and pizza because, school officials said, students showed little interest in the specially delivered meals. 

Last year, Berkeley High invited local restaurateurs to sell their goods on campus. Soon, famed chef Alice Waters was serving up organic pork tacos and bike messengers brought in hormone-free chicken sandwiches. 

School officials hoped students would eat healthier and want to spend their lunch break on campus, but the idea never really caught on, and the number of meals consumed at the school’s food court dropped 33 percent. 

School officials said part of the problem was that the food court where the school served the meals was hidden away. The school cafeteria had been unusable since the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. And students like to get off campus during lunch. 

The school could not sell enough lunches at $3 or $4 each – the typical price of school meals – to cover the cost of the fancy foods. Plus, students said nearby fast food chains and delis have larger portions and cost less. 

But Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Michele Lawrence is hoping to revive the program, and hopes the new cafeteria, which is expected to open next school year, will help.