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Food for Thought

Justin Walker's campaign promise appealed to the simplest of tastes: no more cold food or warm milk. And when classmates pushed him for results even before the election, Justin went to work.

Although the school lunch selections at Alpharetta Elementary School in Alpharetta, Ga., were not the worst of cafeteria folklore, the 5th grader knew they could be better.

So he got in touch with local and state health agencies and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for help to devise an improvement plan before lobbying the principal and cafeteria manager for changes. He wanted healthier selections that would tantalize the taste buds more than the standard meatloaf.

After weeks of researching the subject and surveying peers, a student-advisory panel led by the 11-year-old unveiled the new and improved lunch program earlier this school year

What is now called the Eagle Rock Cafe--complete with awnings, umbrellas, and tablecloths intended to mimic a bistro--opened recently with the help of local gourmet chefs, who served delicacies using ingredients found in the school kitchen.

Using guidelines in the USDA's Team Nutrition program, staff cooks have followed suit. Selections these days include beef quesadillas and oven-roasted turkey--all served hot. The latest variety of ice-cold milk? Strawberry.

Film School 101

The Kansas children who attend Quindaro Elementary School in Kansas City's north end see many things in their declining city neighborhood, some good and some bad. They wanted others to experience what they do, so they decided to produce a documentary called "What My Eyes See."

The amateur filmmakers worked with two local nonprofit groups, to create a video that looks at a typical day at the school and its community.

All of the school's 280 pupils were involved in the project at some level, Principal Linnie McCluney said. Students videotaped interviews with their neighbors, teachers, and peers, and then edited the documentary.

The 30-minute video has had an impact. Local police have volunteered to come in and start a community cleanup project, Ms. McCluney said. The video has been played on local television stations and at a local film festival, and screening requests are still pouring in, she said.


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