This article underwritten by: Renetta DuBose
New Magic Johnson Cafeteria a Slam Dunk for Gary Students
August 21, 2013 — Lunch hour made the first day back to school in Gary a slam dunk with the help of a former National Basketball Association icon. Dunbar-Pulaski Middle School was the first of 18 cafeterias in Gary Community School Corporation to unveil Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s Sodexo MAGIC cafeteria. The Maryland based company pleased eighth grade student Luciana Poats who said the old cafeteria was darker and almost always served sandwiches and pizza.
“It looks different and I hope it has different foods.”
Some of the food is the same and some is different, but students exclaimed it’s the larger portions that excite them the most. Sodexo MAGIC Regional Manager John White said the company really does offer more options that are fresher and nutritious.
“We follow USDA guidelines first, and we find creative ways to serve the grains and the beans that make it attractive for kids to eat. They still get their well balanced meals and meet and exceed the guidelines that we’re required to follow.”
The food was not the only crowd pleaser. Principal Michael Collins said students were thrilled to see the walls come to life with paint.
“One of the students said, ‘Mr. Collins, this is really nice.’ She said, ‘I’m not in a prison anymore.’ She was awfully excited about being here today.”
White said Sodexo MAGIC offers a “Did You Know” campaign that helps students make healthy food choices.
“The wall paper and the painting and the signs all promote nutrition. Certainly when they see the food we hope that it entices them to eat more nutritious food.”
“You want to make school a place that is fun for kids. You want them to want to be here and I think this has somehow contributed to students wanting to be at school,” said Collins.
Sodexo MAGIC is contracted with Gary Community School Corp. for five years. White said the company’s contract states they will generate 5.2 million dollars in sales from 7,500 students. While work is complete at Pulaski, work on all 18 schools is expected to be complete by Nov. 1. In the spring, Magic Johnson is expected to visit the city.