Day 23: pasta with meat sauce

Today’s menu: penne with meat sauce, breadstick, peas, milk, apple
Lunch today was balanced and tasted pretty good. The pasta was actually flavorful. The breadstick was a little stale but not terrible. I certainly appreciate the fresh fruit. Overall, no complaints here.

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28 thoughts on “Day 23: pasta with meat sauce”

  1. Whatever happened to parents packing lunches for their children? You need to get a grip. The ability to purchase, lunch, or even get it for free is a PRIVILEGE AND A CONVENIENCE. If you don't like the lunch provided to you at a taxpayer funded school then you should take a minute in the morning and make yourself a damn sandwich. Whiners like you are the reason the United States is going down the damned tubes.

    1. “Mrs. Q” stated before she does not get her meals for free, and that kids still pack lunch. I pack my lunch every day, and have not bought for at least two years, the lunches are so sick. She also said their school is somewhat in poverty. She isn’t whining, she is taking a look for herself just what the kids she educates and cares for are eating. If kids can’t have a somewhat-healthy lunch, the obesity WILL slowly go up. This was a challenge, and she has packed herself lunch after one lunch made her sick.

  2. Lordy some people have no clue….
    Buying hot lunch is the premise of the blog you anonymous moron. "parents packing lunch"? Are you assuming the writer is a parent or the child? No, don't answer…

    Anyway, I still can't get over that packaged food! We never have pasta in our cafeteria. Overall it looks like a decent meal. Does you school have options to the hot lunch?

  3. this meal looks like it is high on the glycemic index with the pasta (probably made from enriched white flour) sauces are usually thickened with refined flours, bread sticks (more refined flours) the peas are starch and although this looks like a lot better meal than on some of the other days that I have read about. I would have liked to see some different vegetables, whole wheat pasta, less pasta and more veggies and the sauce made with lots of veggies and less starches.

    Of course I am making some assumptions here, for I do not know what the ingredients in the sauces are, but for cost and taste, I know that most sauces are loaded with starches and added sugars. So, as a Nutritionis, I would have to read the labels and find out the ingredients

    I am happy for you that the taste was less bland and that this looked more like a reasonal meal than some of the other meals

    Happy eating and let us know whether you have had your levels checked and what the outcome is. Would be interesting

  4. Anonymous,
    You are also assuming that all parents have the financial means to pack their children a lunch. I am sure the number is staggering of the children that receive free or discounted lunch. In many cases, it may be the one complete meal they get a day. And if you are so concerned about your tax money, wouldn't you want to pay for the best? I doubt that you would want to pay for a crappy meal when you have the option of having a decent one.

  5. Well, this is what happens whenever a 'blog gets good traffic: the trolls show up. It's really best to ignore the prodding; feeding them just keeps 'em coming back for more.

  6. I agree with Mrs. C. Some people can be so mean and it is especially easy when it is so Anonymous. I think you have been quite impartial and journalistic for the most part. People do have the option to pack but there is more to it than that. There are many families who, regardless of income, do not even know what is 'good for you'.

  7. I think 'anon' makes a good point as a Devil's Advocate… I have enjoyed following this blog and think that it is fair to ask if this meal is free, then the recipient should not complain too badly.

    However, the amount of money spent on the items in the meal by the government could most probably be spent to provide a better balanced, more healthful meal. Especially with the consideration that the main consumers of the meals are young children in their prime growing age, and who do not have enough money to purchase food at home to build their own lunch. As has been pointed out by Mrs. Q, many of the students are likely to only have this one meal to subsist on until the next lunch-day. I think a question worth asking is what the driver of the choices on the plate? After reading a few Nestle books, my sneaking suspician would be that the choices are driven the subsidized US farms (ahem corn industry and your abundance of processed foods) and not a child's nutritional needs. To add an off-the-wall point, as taxpayers we should be just as pissed about the food being served at no cost in our schools because the students that are eating this stuff may not be getting the full spectrum of nutrients they need to lead healthy lives. That is going to only lead to unhealthy adults who are overweight and have staggering health care needs.

    The PRIVILEGE AND CONVENIENCE would be if those in Washington who decide what to serve as free food actually make something that they would eat themsslves.

  8. Hey Mrs. Q,

    Looks like you just had your first 'Anonymous' teabag party member post on your blog! 🙂

    Ignore it – their actions and words obviously speak for themselves.

  9. I think this meal looks much more appetising than others that I've seen!

    I agree that a free lunch is a good idea, but I still think that children need nutritious food, rather than just food. Things don't change unless you try to change them, and I think the blog is a really positive step. Mrs Q says how she felt about the food, but is completely open to other people's comments and has shown good character throughout all her posts. I think it's good work, and it's definitely an interesting read.

    …And I love the irony in that Mrs Q. has said the lunch wasn't too bad, and Anonymous chose that particular post to have a rant about whining. I'm with the 'ignore it' team. 🙂

  10. Wow, let me just say I think this blog is wonderful- you are "taking one for the team" in an effort to truly inform people about what is served in school lunches! It has nothing to do with packed lunches, There is no reason school lunches cannot be healthy and tasty.

  11. I feel that the school lunch program and especially the Breakfast program (which I loathe) are promoted by the school. My kids ask to eat 'hot lunch' which they do a few times a month. The breakfast program is awful. There has been a new program where the entire class eats the school sponsored breakfast together in the morning. My kids eat breakfast at home (concept, I know) so they do not eat at school. My kindergartener was bursting into tears every morning at school because she wanted the junk food everyone else was getting. Our school breakfast program is atrocious; poptarts, doughnuts, cereal with marshmellows,etc.
    I compromised on having her eat a juice every morning so she is not so upset about the breakfast program, perhaps I should have stood my ground, but the breakfast program is not the fault of the teacher and I didn't want her to have to deal with a crying fit every morning from an already nervous 5 year old.

    The Breakfast is junk. The lunch program is slightly better, perhaps there is some value in feeding otherwise hungry kids, but what about the cost of overfeeding the majority of otherwise better fed kids?

  12. I grew up eating free school lunches, and man, your posts definitely remind me how disgusting most school lunches were (and apparently, still are). I always avoided the yucky, overcooked green beans, the bread was almost always dry, and I really hated the nasty cheese on the "pizzas." Blech. Anyway, my family didn't have a lot of money, and I'd say 90% of my school qualified for free lunch. It's really easy for people to just say, "If you don't like it, bring your own," but for many families, I know this isn't an option. And it's not like anyone's asking for gourmet meals instead! Just something that is remotely appetizing…schools can start by not overcooking green beans! Anyway, I think this blog is a great idea. Keep it up!

  13. You tell it anonymous, those damn poor kids should just suck it up and WORK for a living. Child labor laws be damned. And while we're at it, lets put all the asbestos and lead paint back too! *end sarcasm font*

  14. It's difficult to end up with crisp green beans when you only have canned ones to work out with, which start out soggy from the get-go. Decisions about what exactly is on the menu at lunchtime are left up to local authorities, but they are required to pick from a list of USDA-supplied commodities in order to qualify for federal subsidies. If you're curious to learn what exactly is on that list, you can find it here:

  15. Yeah, poor kids should just eat whatever slop we give 'em! If you wanted GOOD food, maybe you shouldn't have been so damn POOR, little kid!!!1!

  16. Well the first anonymous has a good point only to the extent that the people who CAN afford to pack their kid's lunches SHOULD and they should learn about nutrition. Sandwiches are not that difficult and still have to beat the nutrition of most of these meals. Although today's meal is better than usual, it actually has some color!

    Mass prepared food is never going to match what people can prepare for themselves, just because the sheer difficulty of feeding masses of people in bulk will require more canned foods, than fresh etc. It's a logistics problem. However, we can definitely do a LOT better on school lunches than this and we should if we wish the next generation to have any chance nutritionally. Maybe we should also increase food stamps so more people can afford to feed their families well themselves.

  17. Somewhere else I read some arguments about how we should do away with school lunches altogether, and that poor people need to "take responsibility" to feed their own kids, and that maybe having their kids go hungry will give them the proper motivation to get their lives sorted out.

    It seems like a Social Darwinist sort of attitude to me. I have trouble even talking to people like that because we have such different ideas on how civilized societies should work.

  18. In reading this blog and news articles about school lunches (seems to be a hot topic) I came across a figure for the Camden NJ school system that the cost for the "food" is about 50 cents per student then you add in the cost of labor and it comes to $2.62 per child. Love the blog please keep up the good (and hard to swallow on many different levels) work!

  19. I agree that the food in general looks unappetizing, but I'm not sure that all the comments about it not being nutritious are correct. Our pediatrician had advised us that most cereals are fortified with vitamins so a bowl of sugar cereal is like getting a multivitamin. Of course we'd rather our child eats a bowl of no or low surgar cereal, but apparently fruitloops are better for kids than some of the organic cereals you find in health food stores. I have heard that the bread and other food served in school lunches are also fortified, so perhaps the meals are slightly better than they look.

  20. I think it looks like a good meal, though I agree with a few posters above and wish the pasta or bread were whole wheat. I've been impressed by past meals including a whole wheat bun, and that the milk is usually 1%.

    I'm in the minority here, but I think the lunches are nutritionally reasonable. Yes, I agree the "sometimes foods" are served too often. But there are fruits, veggies, grain, dairy, and protein at every meal. Given that the cafeteria is trying to appeal to a wide audience of tastes, the food almost has to be bland and limited.

    Thank you, Mrs Q, for chronicling this. Pictures sometimes speak louder than words.

  21. Great blog! I'm always appalled by what passes as "food" in my daughter's school.

    I will chime in with the others. White-flour pasta topped with sugared-up-tomatoes, accompanied with canned peas and a refined-flour stick isn't exactly "balanced." It is better than some of the other junk they call "lunch," though.

  22. It's me. Anonymous. I'm not a troll. I'm completely serious. If a parent can't afford to pack his or her kid a sandwich… then what gives them the right to complain about the FREE MEALS THEY'RE GETTING FOR THEIR CHILDREN. I am not kidding, you're all just so deluded that you think I'm kidding. If you're a father, and you have a kid, you should be forced to pay for their food.

  23. In fact, I think any father who refused to provide for his or her children should GO TO JAIL AND STAMP LICENSE PLATES FOR MINIMUM WAGE. No, I am not kidding. I'm completely serious. Is what I'm proposing politically correct? No. Each and every one of you knows, deep down, that I am completely right, however.

  24. Have you read A Framework For Understanding Poverty? Some of the angrier posters might find the information surprising and insightful. Either way, an interesting read.

    My mom and sister teach at schools with extremely high levels of free and reduced lunch students. It's tragic and deplorable, some of the conditions children in America live in, and at that age, their parents' struggles are not their fault. Yes, their parents should do more for their nutrition and their lives in general, but it's easy to say that and offer no helpful solutions. It is easy to judge and call all parents deadbeats, and turn a blind eye.

    I'd say that giving kids food when it might be their only meal or meals of the day is a step towards helping, even if it's highly processed, it is something. The lack of quality food available at schools isn't the parent's fault, it seems to go to a higher federal level; the subsidizing of corn and sugar to make it the cheapest food possible, and the lack of advocacy for the kids that need more help than others, and a lack of nutritional education.

  25. "I think any father who refused to provide for his or her (???) children should GO TO JAIL AND STAMP LICENSE PLATES FOR MINIMUM WAGE."

    Average federal cost per prisoner per day: $60
    Average federal cost per school lunch per day: $1.60

    Good use of taxpayer money.

  26. How much MONEY does it take to purchase and prepare local, possibly organic fresh foods, pay staff, create an accounting system for parents, outfit kitchens with equipment and resources to prepare, package foods or serve food to students so they can eat and be served quickly (in say, 20 min total??.) 1000's of students. Think about the resources that go into feeding just a family or four or a party for 50? Yet, how to create child friendly foods that appeal to ALL taste preferences? How much does it cost you at home to do this? How much in a restaurant? How much is the food service budget? I DOUBT it would be the estimated $4 or $5 per student that is truly needed. I DOUBT the government or parents would be willing to pay this!!

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