Philadelphia food police swap in costly school lunch menu

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School officials at one Philadelphia school have joined an “Eatiquette” program to crack down on unhealthy eating, banning processed food and requiring students to partake in a more family-style dining atmosphere.

“This is more than just eating healthy,” said Marc Vetri, a local chef who operates two restaurants in Philadelphia and who has been hired to provide meals at People For People Charter School, according to The Associated Press. “This is learning how to interact with each other.”

No more cafeteria trays and bench tables. Now students are served on dishes that are passed around circular tables, and they eat off plates using silverware, AP reports. And the food? It’s restaurant fare — like baked zita with a side of fennel salad, and cinnamon apple rice pudding for dessert, AP reports.

The “Eatiquette” plan calls for only fresh ingredients and on-site food preparation, AP says. Processed meats and foods are banned, as well as frozen and canned produce.

The program is costly. At about $1.50 per meal, it’s more than what the school currently pays, AP says. And 80 percent of the students that attend the school receive taxpayer assistance for free or reduced-price meals, AP says.

“It costs more, but we believe there is a benefit,” said one official, who said the program could one day be offset through grant funds, AP reported.

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