Anonymity

I’m blogging anonymously because I like my job and getting a paycheck. But I’m still putting my livelihood on the line by speaking up. Why? Because I want to raise awareness about school lunch. It may not be what every child in this country eats, but I believe the meal that I am showing represents what most children eat at lunch in the US.

This issue is important now because the Child Nutrition Act is being reauthorized and debated in Congress right now. I realize that everyone is strapped for cash right now. Individuals, companies, states, and countries are losing money. No matter what is going on in this world, we can’t forget the kids and the fact that many of them are at the mercy of school districts and corporations for their daily meal(s). It will cost the US more money in the future (healthcare costs) if schools don’t address the big problem that is staring them in the face everyday: childhood obesity. No matter how great a school is, it can’t control what the kids eat outside of school. But still schools can do better for kids while they are in building.

People say “school lunches have always been bad.” But actually I think in a lot of places they have gotten worse as far as quality and variety are concerned. Considering all of the powerful health, wellness, and nutrition research that has come out over the past thirty years, school lunches have not kept up with the latest medical advice.

I’ve been very stressed out about this project recently. I really love my school, the principal and the lunch manager a lot. I respect them. The principal is fair and is a strong leader. The lunch manager is kind to me and to the kids. And then I go home and do this with my limited spare time. I feel a lot of guilt and turmoil about what I’m doing here. I’m waiting for the moment I’m called to the principal’s office and let go. I do believe it’s a matter of “when” not “if” they both find out and it’s curtains for me and then of course the project. I want them to know that the project is not about individuals in one school, but about a country full of children who need better food models.

I’m getting a lot of requests for interviews from major newspapers and other news outlets (I have done other interviews for media with smaller distribution and/or all online). Many assure me of my anonymity, but if I get major attention even without my real name, well, someone is going to put 2 + 2 together. All that is needed is one person sending one email to all lunch room managers and asking, “Who’s eating school lunch every day?” Then they get a short list …and I’ll be carrying a cardboard box to my car.

My husband says, “You’re paranoid! Stop it.” But in a subsequent discussion he said, “You’re not going to lose your job, are you?”

Sweetie, when I decided to do this blog, even though I thought I would not get a comment for a few months (it took just a few days) and that I thought maybe in a few months I might get 5-10 hits per week (I’m averaging 1,000 to 4,000 per day)…. well, it’s not looking good. I’m just hoping to finish out the school year…

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161 Responses to Anonymity

  1. Anonymous March 19, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    This topic is extremely necessary to address as this is one of the root causes of our nations health care crisis. Our nation is no longer are fight diseases primarily caused by microbes (polio, diptheria, measles, mumps, etc.), we are fighting diseases caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices – unhealthy eating habits, lack of physical activity and smoking. Our nations top diseases are heart attacks, cancers and diabetes. By doing your under cover study, I would be interested in a before and after biomarker measurements. A lab work up of your HDL, LDL, Cholesterol, BMI, etc. This would add proof to the affects of poor nutrition at a young age. I hope this catches the attention of President Obama and the First Lady. They should grab on to this as part of health care and school reform. I would like to encourage you to continue on in your courageous efforts to expose this problem and work collaboratively with finding a solution. You have captured the attention of many. Hopefully you will pioneer a change in our health care system.

  2. Anonymous March 23, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    I don't think you'd get fired for this blog. You may be surprised to find out that many Principals feel the same way as you do, they just have to follow the rules set for their cafeteria; how much can they spend, what they purchase with the little funds they have.
    I've come across this blog rather late and maybe you've addressed this already but next time you're in the cafeteria, look around. Are there other Teachers or Principals eating the lunch? Why are they eating the lunch? Did they just not have the time to pack one? Was this the only time they had to eat and they couldn't go back to their classroom or wherever their lunch is kept? Or were they serving corn dogs that day? Something they know they shouldn't eat but it reminds them of their childhood and so they must partake!

  3. Dawn Taylor March 23, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

    I haven't seen this posted anywhere nor have I ever heard this topic brought to the table when our government talks about budget cuts. My mother works in a public elementary school kitchen in Arizona. It is ASTOUNDING how much food is thrown away each and everyday. Edible, reheatable, givaway-able, donatable food. Tossed in the trash. Every single day. Today for example 300 baked ziti cooked-100 servings thrown away; 300 chicken patties cooked-75 thrown away; 40 chicken wraps-30 thrown away!!! 210 containers of milk, 210 containers of OJ! At one of approx 500 schools in the county!Why can this not be donated!!!OR re-use or just change the menu. We don't need 3 choices everyday. Absurd! We have approx 48 school districts in the county alone-thats about 500 schools doing this daily! How many teacher's salaries can be paid with that loss? Why are we throwing away edible (I didn't say healthy) food at such an enormous
    rate?

  4. Anonymous March 25, 2010 at 6:46 pm #

    Parents have the accountability of teaching and raising their children, not the school district. That is one of the major problems with our society today-parents aren't accountable. Teach your children to make good choices and don't them to the drive-thru all the time. Don't place so much blame on the districts.

  5. CJ March 28, 2010 at 6:03 am #

    Anon above:

    true, parents should be making good choices and leading their kids by example… but who is teaching them? i'm someone who is passionate about food, food politics, food policies, etc. and have done a great deal to educate myself about these issues.

    But for someone with little education, time, or interest in such matters, where should they be getting their information? If the government has all these rules for what food should be served in schools, why wouldn't those parents rely upon that food as models for what is healthy to serve to their kids? Why would they believe otherwise?

  6. Sr. Sarah, OSF March 28, 2010 at 11:25 pm #

    Mrs. Q,

    There's more going on than what the food looks like. There have been 1000 studies on irradiated foods (meats and veggies). Not one concluded irradiated foods were safe. Most report a number of injurious effects including mutations, reduced fertility, impaired immune function and cancer. Ionizing radiation leads to the formation of new chemicals that can cause serious health problems, such as DNA damage. Vitamins and other nutrients are damaged up to 80%. Enzymes are destroyed. Animals fed irradiated foods had lower birth weights, growth rates and they developed tumors, kidney damage, abnormal blood cells and impaird immunity. No studies longer than 15 weeks have been conducted!(Health Alert magazine,winter/spring 2010)

    Additionally, there is the GMO issue, with potential allergens and inflammation of the intstines so that nutrients can no longer be absorbed. One noxious GMO food has gene that migrate into the healthy bacteria in our gut and cause them to continually produce pesticides. No wonder people are becoming allergic and the GI tract inflammed.

    Look at what is happening to our people: so much illness which goes back to malnutrition. They eat the food but can't absorb but a fraction of the nutrients. Look at how celiac disease has gone from 1/10,000 to 1/133 with 30% of the us poulation now estimated to be gluten (what protein) intolerant.

    These changes have all happened in such a short period of time. Watch as the kids get paler, get dark circles (allergies) under their eyes. Damage to the gut won't just go away when the offending foods are removed. It will likely take good liquid supplements and avoidance of allergens for some time to restore health. Watch the diagnosis of malnutrition increase: fibromyalgia, thyoid and adrenal problems, chronic fatigue, difficulty concentrating, ADHD. And watch the obesity as they gain weight from constantly consuming foods they have become allergic to, dietary staples like wheat, corn, milk, beef, pork…

  7. Cassidy Lee March 30, 2010 at 11:46 pm #

    Just wanted to give a shout out from Oregon and Bob's Red Mill. There's a few of us reading and find what you're doing inspiring and a little disconcerting… as it should be. I hope this challenge doesn't cause any long-term ill health or cost you your job. Thanks for being a brave soul and a voice for change. I'm going to put a link to your blog on our blog so our readers can learn more about this. Very sincerely,
    Cassidy Stockton, Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods.

  8. Anonymous March 31, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

    I know that this is not what you want to hear, but it's possible that if your school finds out about this that you could get fired. The thing is, they may not be able to fire you for this, but they could stress some other small area of your job that perhaps you're lacking in or make something else up all together.

    I don't know that much about working in education, but certainly a business person in any other industry would pull something like that.

    You've already mentioned that you recently had a kid, your school district (I believe?), your gender, that you eat school lunches everyday, etc. It doesn't seem too hard to figure out.

    From a technical standpoint, if you've accessed or even just viewed this blog from your school, then that's practically an automatic giveaway (unless others in your school district are viewing this blog too).

    You don't have to publish this comment, but just keep it in mind that you do have reason to be cautious.

  9. Anonymous April 3, 2010 at 6:53 am #

    Let's see: You are involved. You CARE about what goes into these kids' bodies. You care about it enough to risk your job, your financial security and stability. Therefore, YOU are exactly who I want teaching my kids! If you get fired for this you will have thousands of parents on your side. What you're doing is a very important thing. Stick with it- you have a lot of support!

  10. Birdie Woods April 6, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    I am just a college student, I am majoring in Middle Childhood Ed. I dont have any children, but obviously I will eventually. I was raised in Akron, in the poorest school district around. 100% inner city and our meals were just like they provide at your school. I wish there had been someone who cared enough, like you, to help make changes. I want to sincerely thank you, because I think that you could directly impact my children's lives and that means a LOT

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