Granite School District is looking for a food fight. The district will wage a battle to convince youngsters that school lunch is a good idea and will hire a consultant to oversee an upgrading of its food services.

District officials have conducted a lengthy study of food services, including meetings with private providers to see if privatization might be a good alternative.Tuesday night, however, the Granite School Board unanimously accepted a recommendation that the district retain its own services and its own employees. An outside consultant will be sought to pursue a program to improve the quality of meals and to conduct a "sales" campaign to increase the number of children who purchase them.

Almost half the district's students bypass school-prepared lunch. The problem is particularly acute in the junior high schools, where school lunch is seen as a negative status symbol.

Denis Morrill, a newcomer to the board, said he tried to get his own children to agree to school lunches and "my junior high school student cried."

Morrill said the district needs to push an educational effort to change the image of school lunches.

Frank Willardsen, assistant superintendent, told the board bluntly that the upgrading will cost a considerable amount of money.

The district had discussed the possibility of contracting with a company such as the Marriott Corp. to provide school lunches - a move that created concern among present district lunch workers.

Tuesday's action confirmed the district's appreciation for its employees, said board member J. Dale Christensen. "To replace employees who give all they have with a private contractor and its employees is not consistent with board goals."

At the same time, he said, bringing in a consultant to address the problems in the program allows the board to retain control while dealing with the issues.

No increase in school lunch prices is foreseen at this point.