By Gayle Pollard-Terry, Office of Communications

Who said kids are picky eaters?

They’re not at Marina Del Rey Middle School, or at other campuses around Los Angeles Unified, where students devoured an estimated 350,000 kale-and-cranberry salads on Wednesday in honor of National Kale Day.

“I love kale,” said Ozzie, an eighth-grade student.  “They should serve this everyday.”

His friend, DeShawn added, “It’s just good.  It has a really nice flavor. I’m really enjoying it. “

Evelyn Guirguis, the Food Services manager at Marina del Rey Middle School, prepares kale salad.

Evelyn Guirguis, the Food Services manager at Marina del Rey Middle School, prepares kale salad.

Determined to observe Kale Day, the District purchased more than 5 tons of the dark green leafy vegetable.   It wasn’t frozen, and it didn’t come from a million miles away.  It was harvested two days ago from a farm in nearby Ventura County, then trucked to the District’s nutrition centers, where cafeteria workers created individual side salads.

“We have the opportunity to impact so many students,” Laura Benavidez said, interim co-director of Food Services, who learned about Kale Day at a produce convention. “Kale is one of the ways we are introducing new items, healthy items to our students.”

She estimated 350,000 of the salads were served along with a hamburger.

Before the kale arrived at the school, homeroom teachers talked to students about the nutritional value of the vegetable. It’s often called a “super-food” because it’s rich in Vitamins A, C and K, an excellent source of calcium and iron.  This means it helps in bone growth and brain development.

“We are encouraging our children to eat healthy and to take care of our environment,” said Principal Lorraine Machado.  “We grow kale in our school garden.”

Kale6National Kale Day began three years ago to showcase its nutritional benefits and also showcase the many ways to serve it – cooked or raw.

“It has been a green dream! LA schools signed up for National Kale Day and agreed to serve kale for the first time. That means thousands of students trying one of the healthiest plants on the planet,” said Dr. Drew Ramsey, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York and an advocate of kale. “We know better diet promotes better learning.”

Wednesday won’t be the last time that kale is on the LAUSD menu.

“Right now, we’re trying it once a month,” Benavidez said. “If we get a lot of positive feedback, we may serve it more frequently.”