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Jun. 25--Let 'em eat tofu.
The city Education Department will banish the sale of most sugar-laden, fat-filled, unnutritous snacks and foods from school cafeterias and vending machines starting in September.
Twinkies? They're history.
Those yummy, jumbo chocolate chip cookies? Outta here.
Frosted doughnuts? Ice cream bars? Sugar-filled phony fruit drinks? No, no and no.
Macaroni and cheese? Maybe -- but it sure won't taste like it used to.
"We firmly believe that good nutrition plays an essential role in health and development and helps young people to do well in school," Martin Oestreicher, head of the school system's food service, said yesterday.
The health movement began in 1999, when the Community Food Resource Center sued school officials for flouting their own rules by allowing vending machines to sell soda, candy, gum and juice drinks.
In an effort to settle the lawsuit, the schools agreed to replace the worst of the snacks in all 2,400 vending machines.
But Chancellor Joel Klein took healthy living a step further. He agreed to trim the fat, sugar and salt from the 800,000 lunches and breakfasts served daily in school cafeterias.
"It's a massive job to make this system more wholesome," said Toni Liquori, director of food and nutrition services at the center. "But everyone acknowledged we can't continue to have this flood of junk foods, processed food in our schools."
The planned changes in school lunches are straight out of Health Digest: less fat, more fish, more whole wheat bread, fewer mayonnaise-laden salad dressings. Fruits and vegetables five days a week instead of three. And no more super-size desserts.
Some school lunch classics are being retooled to be healthier: pizza, chicken fingers and Jamaican beef patties will be served in lighter versions.
But some favorites -- ice cream, potato salad and macaroni and cheese -- have defeated health efforts so far.
"We are taste-testing everything, and so far, I have to say, the healthy macaroni and cheese is so bland, I doubt anyone would eat it," Oestreicher said.
Officials estimate it will take three to five years to root out all the unhealthy foods and ingredients lurking in school lunches.
But vending machines will hit the health circuit in September. Pretzels will replace doughnuts, energy bars will edge out cupcakes and soda will go the way of New Coke.
That could mean trouble for principals at large city high schools. They can pull in $100,000 a year from vending machines -- money used to pay for sports teams, bands, proms and after-school programs.
By Joe Williams and Alison Gendar
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