Green beans spark revolt

A kiddie revolt against green beans at an elementary school cafeteria went from the classroom to the kitchen on Monday.

After a letter-writing campaign against the reheated frozen greens, students from Constantine Christopulos' second-grade class at Wright Elementary School got to taste different vegetables and vote for their favorites for the lunchtime menu.

The letters, poignantly polite and written in pencil, even melted the heart of the lunch lady, Connie Duits.

"Dear Mrs. Duits, The food is so yummy and yummy. But there are one proplem. It is the green beans," wrote Zhong Lei.

"We love the rest but we hate the green beans," wrote Viviann Palacios.

Students were so adamant, they even offered to eat other vegetables.

"A little boy said anything, anything, I'll even eat broccoli," Duits said. "So that one touched my heart."

With a handful of reporters watching, two dozen students sat down to a veritable salad bar of cooked, frozen and canned vegetables, from baby corn to cherry tomatoes, and filled out a survey.

Because of cost restrictions for lunches for which parents pay up to only $1.40 per lunch, the children's only real choices were between canned and frozen green beans, corn, cooked or raw carrots and cooked or cold peas.

Corn and carrots were popular; cooked peas, not so much.

"The cooked peas, it's warm and all, but inside of it, it's all soft and stuff and I don't like it," said MacKenzie Rangel.

Brenden Lucas said he liked the raw carrots, "Because it's hard and crunchy."

The students undertook the exercise in mini-democracy after the class read a book called "Frindle," in which a boy named Nick contemplates organizing a boycott of the cafeteria.

"I asked the kids, 'Is that a respectful way of doing it?'" Christopulos said. "And they said, 'Oh, not at all.'"

Collectively, the class decided that writing letters would be the best course of action, he said.

As a result, the food service department of the Clark County School District sent staff to the school to see what alternatives the students preferred.

"They were so excited to get a response back," Christopulos said. "I taught them the pen is mightier than the sword, and hopefully they remember that forever."

Some children got downright prolific when asked to write what other foods they would like for lunch or breakfast.

Spaghetti and meatballs were mentioned more than once.

Logan Strong wanted "chocolate filled panda cookies" and "chicken cordon blue."

While not all the requests would be accepted -- and green beans would still occasionally be served -- district supervisor Sue Hoggan said the survey will help district dietitians "tweak" the menu.