Day 14: Pizza

Today’s menu: cheese pizza, pears, pineapple-orange juice

This is not the “french bread” pizza that I ate before. I think I liked the other one better. The fruit cup was not frozen.

The menus are two-sided, menus. The side that I see posted in classrooms lists everything being offered at lunch (main entree and sides) while the flipside lists the main entree and another option in smaller font (no space for the sides).

Cheese lasagna was yesterday’s second option for that day. It looks like the second option is for vegetarians.

Dialogue

I’d just like to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading the comments. Thank you. I love reading your personal stories about school lunches. I also see a lot of opinions about the photos and about food options in your children’s schools. And every commenter who tells me to keep going is also appreciated. The best part of the comments is that we are opening a dialogue about school lunches in our country.

***

And I’ve done another email interview. This time with mother nature network :

An interview with school lunch blogger Mrs. Q

Thanks Robin!

***

I think when we look at under-performing schools and we want to change those numbers, we need to question everything. Teachers’ skills, abilities, and training are often addressed in the media as a big part of the picture. You know, I attend quality professional development activities through my district every 1-2 months depending on the schedule. That’s pretty darn good if you ask me. I always learn something new.

But nowhere have I ever seen anyone think about what we offer children for lunch. Let’s think about what we give students to ingest. For instance, I personally enjoy eating hot dogs maybe every 4-6 months, mostly in the summer cooked on a grill. Also I eat them when I go to the ballpark as a special treat. But I wonder if we should give a child a hot dog lunch and then ask them to take the ISAT (state test)…

***

In 2004 Jamie Oliver launched an effort to improve school lunches in the UK. He started a program called School Dinners and he wrote a manifesto about what he wanted to see happen in the school lunch movement (I love the word “manifesto”). Not all schools accepted his new program, but many did.

In 2006-7, the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at Essex University comes along and decides to study 11-year-old kids who ate the new diet of fresh food for at least 12 months. Results:

An independent study shows the performance of 11-year-old pupils eating Oliver’s meals improved by up to 8% in science and as much as 6% in English, while absenteeism due to ill-health fell by 15%.

The researchers controlled for other variables and compared the results to the schools where the kids did not have access to the fresh food.

WOW. That’s all I can say.

Day 13: Rib-a-cue

Today’s menu: Rib-a-cue, whole wheat bun, corn, apple, (milk).

So the “rib-a-cue” looks bad, but when I opened the package, it smelled terrific and it actually tasted really good. Today I was offered a choice (!!) of the rib-a-cue or lasagna. I didn’t see the lasagna sitting out so I decided on the rib-a-cue, which was sitting in a big stack for the kids to take.

I’m starting to become friends with the lunch room personnel. I was always nice to them before but we’re definitely establishing a relationship! Someone commented that I’m eating lunch everyday…. if they only knew the whole story!

Day 11: Pasta and meat sauce

Today’s menu: rotini, meat sauce, green beans, cherry-flavored icee, breadstick, butter, milk.

I enjoyed this meal. The pasta and meat sauce weren’t bad and I appreciated the variety of rotini (versus spaghetti). I guess the green beans had some kind of butter sauce. I didn’t taste a sauce but there was a little buttery residue on the bottom of the paper package.

The icee was very sweet. I sucked down a few sips and then stopped.
I talked to a couple students about the meal. They said they liked it. I asked if they ate everything and one didn’t eat the green beans. Both didn’t eat the breadsticks because they were “too busy talking” and ran out of time.

In other news I have definitely determined I’m lactose-intolerant this weekend when I ate some ice cream. So I’m no longer going to take a milk when I purchase lunch. I could try and take “lactaid” with me to work, but it’s a lot of fuss so I think it’s just best if I avoid all milk.

Lunch "ladies"

I want to reiterate that I really like the lunch “ladies” at my school. These are hard-working women and men doing their job every single day. The quality of the lunches is something completely out of their control.

I worked in the dishroom of my dorm cafeteria my first year of college. It was hot and smelly work standing in the spray of an industrial dishwasher. Shifts started early and you had to wear uniforms and hairnets. I was usually half-awake. Every day I would go back to my dorm room and smell like grease or fast food or…I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly, but if you ever worked in food service, you know that smell. The unwritten rule is that you MUST go home and shower after your shift is over. It’s not enough to take off your uniform!

I had a lot of fun in that job because the other employees were college students and we got to socialize during our shifts. I made some good friends. I also knew it was not my lifetime vocation.

The women and men working in the lunch room have to put up with similar conditions as I did, but they do it year after year. There’s a lot of heavy-lifting, smelly food garbage, and messes made by the children. I’d like to point out that the cafeteria and what I’ve since of kitchen are exceptionally clean. It’s a credit to these devoted professionals.