FAQ

What exactly is your school lunch project?

I’m eating school lunch just like the kids every day in 2010 to raise awareness about what students eat every day. My hope is that the US becomes more reflective about how the food children eat affects their well-being and success in school. I certainly do not speak for all school lunch programs, but from the comments I have been receiving, what I eat is fairly typical of what most students eat in our country.


What inspired you to do this?

I was disheartened by what I saw the kids eating at school. As I continue with the project and physically consume the lunches myself, I get even more upset.

Is this a publicity stunt?

I have nothing to gain from doing this project personally. I am just a regular person and I’m certainly not sophisticated enough to design some kind of “stunt.”

Are you affiliated with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign or did she inspire you?

I came up with this idea on my own in December 2009. I applaud her efforts and support her 100%. She is welcome to contact me.

What are your credentials? How can you judge the food?

I am not a nutritionist. I am just a parent who wants the best for all kids.

Why are you anonymous? Don’t you stand by your ideals?

I am anonymous because I want to protect my job and my identity. I like that I’m “un-googleable.” Although I feel passionate about child nutrition, I believe that being anonymous is the best thing for my professional career. I really want to reveal more, but it’s not safe for me personally.

Why is this important now?

The Child Nutrition Act is being debated in congress. It’s important that people realize that funding for school lunches is vital to children’s success in school and in life.

What’s up with all the packaging?

The meals brought in frozen and heated up in large ovens. The containers are paper with plastic over the top. Microwaving is not allowed for school lunch (from what I understand). There are no real dishes or cutlery. Ninety-five percent of food delivered to schools is frozen.

Where is the food made? Are there microwaves at the school?

I don’t know where the food is made. I’m not going to name the company, but it’s a very common school food vendor. There are no microwaves in the school’s kitchen only large ovens. Microwaves are available to the staff in the teachers’ lunchroom/staff lounge, but students do not have access to that space.

Do the students get free or reduced price lunch?

Many of the students at the school get free and reduced price lunch.

Do the children actually eat this food?

The kids only eat bits and pieces of the food offered to them. Sometimes the kids only eat the fruit or the hot dog or occasionally they don’t eat any of it.

Do the children get a choice?

There is a vegetarian option as an alternative to the main course, which is usually meat-based. Sometimes the vegetarian option is lined up with the main entree, but other times a student has to request that item specifically.

Where is the nutritional information?

I cannot locate nutritional information at the school or on my district’s website for the meals my students eat.

How much time do the kids get for lunch?

Twenty minutes.

How much time do the kids get for recess?

There is no recess at my school. Believe me, this is becoming very common across the US. Even the schools that schedule recess often have to bump it to fit in academics.

Does your school recycle?

No. That’s a whole different issue.

How is your health?

I’m doing just fine. I had bloodwork done (completely coincidentally) in December and I’m normal. Because this is one meal per day and I’m free to eat other food for the rest of my day, my health has not be largely impacted from what I can tell. You can read more about my health if you click on the “health” label.

Why did you put ads on the site?

To help me recoup the lunch costs as well as to compensate me for my work on the blog, which is similar to a part-time job on top of my full-time work. When I did a poll of my readers’ opinions on ads in January, 80% of them thought it was a good idea.

Are you aware of Jamie Oliver and what he is doing?

I became aware of his efforts in the UK and here in the US after I started the project. I watched his TED talk and I’m way excited about Food Revolution. I think he is a compassionate soul who can no longer stand by and watch as children’s health is compromised by crappy food. We follow each other on Twitter!

Ask me other questions and I’ll update the FAQ! Thanks for reading!

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96 Responses to FAQ

  1. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    Everyone posting here are adults. Every one keeps saying things like "our kids deserve better food" or "How did we let ourselfs fail or children". I'm 12 years old and I wanted to give a kids perspective. You haven't 'failed' us at all. The teachers teach us what foods are good for us and which aren't so great. Were not clueless idiots like you think we are. We know we cant have a corndog, cookie, icee, and milk every day. I agree that some of the lunches are unhealty but they are only served once in a while. These foods are fine served in moderation. Many schools have healthier options such as yogurt, salads, PPJ, and other healthy sandwhiches. Most of us like the school lunch.I only know of about 5 people that bring their lunch from home. Sometimes their lunch is even full of junk food like cookies, chips, and twinkies. Adults taste buds are different than kids taste buds. So what tastes revolting to you might taste pretty good to us. The most liked meal at our school is chicken nuggets with mashed potatoes with gravy, rolls,veggies, fruit, and milk plus your other options of yugurt, salad, etc. Schools serve things kids that aren't super healthy with thinjgs that are healthy. No one is forcing us to eat these foods. We are deciding for ourselfs. So you can't blame schools for choices kids make. If you want your kid to eat healthier dont talk to the school about it talk to your kid about it. Many kids at my schools are allowed to get 1-2 al acarte iteam(s) per week (things like cookies, chips, and other unhealthy things that aren't served with the lunch that you pay extra for (things like cookies, chips, and little debbies). Parents can go online and log into their account on skyward and see their kids grades for assignments and what they bought for lunch. If kids get more than 1-2 al acarte(s) per week their parents either ground them or dont let them get al acarte for the next 1 or 2 weeks. If the schools feed us lunches with green beans, apples, bananas, and a tuna sandwhich every day were not goning to eat it. But if you give us pizza with veggies, fruit, and milk were more likely to eat the veggies and fruit. I think that schools should have reccess everyday but most kids during reccess just walk around and talk with their friends and dont do anything physical. Some kids do but not all. Whose fault is it that kids are becoming more overweight? The first thing most people would say is school lunches. But when you stop and think about it its quite obvious whose fault it is. Who is the one paying for your kid to eat these lunches? You. Whose is the one not telling your kids to eat healthy foods? You. Who is the one afraid to speak out to the school and just creates blogs and posts about it but does nothing away from the computer to change these lunches? I'm pretty sure you can figure that one out.

  2. Kriket March 18, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    Mrs. Q, what does your school do about food allergies? Do the children simply have to supply their own food or would the school supplement meals for them? I am allergic to gluten and lactose. One day, I'll have children that could have these allergies. It is important to me that they get food they can eat without fear of getting sick. Menus that are both gluten and lactose free are very difficult to make… especially if you want it to taste halfway edible! And there are many, many more allergies in the world. What does your school do to be conscious about that?

  3. Chickadee March 18, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    I was just directed to your blog via my friend's facebook profile and I think this is great. I am equally passionate about the quality of food and how it is integral to success in education. I haven't had time to read through all of your comments…there are just so many! Besides being a FACS teacher at the middle school level, I am the cook at a summer camp. Nine years ago, I was finally fed up enough with the quality of food I was eating for so long as a camp staff that I proposed a change to whole, homemade foods and the director then asked me if I wanted to do it.
    Long story short, amidst a lot of nay-sayers who claimed that kids wouldn't eat homemade mac and cheese, we've kept to our goals, have been producing really great homemade food and the campers have been happier and healthier. Not everything is perfect and it takes some hard work but it is worth it!

  4. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    Thank you! This is fantastic! You are a brave woman and I admire your desire to take a stand. I will eat some homemade vegetable soup at noon in your honor. One of us will not be bloated with sodium with a carbo headache. Wish it were you.

  5. Cullen March 18, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    So the food in your pictures looks exactly like what is given to inmates in the city jail in Sheridan, WY. I know b/c I spent about 22 hours there once upon a backpacking trip for sleeping in my car too close to downtown.

  6. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

    Mrs. Q.

    I have three kids in the Chicago Public School systems and I thought about saving some time and letting my oldest have school lunch. She is not a picky eater. Well I had to pick her up from school each time she ate a school lunch because of her not feeling well at school after lunch. So I stopped letting her buy lunch from school and she hasn't had that problem of coming home in the middle of the day. Also I have eaten the CPS lunches before and I have to say your lunches you have posted look better than some of the CPS lunches. I am also sadden by the fact that there is no recess at all and with only 15 minutes for lunch, by the time you get out of line there is hardly no time to eat. Also the lunchroom staff yells at them for talking to there friends even though that is only time they can actually socialize because of no recess. Children need time to play run around and have fun. I don't know what this world expects to have if you teach children to shovel in there food quickly and make them sit all day because of no recess and we only have gym for twice a week. No wonder obesity is a problem in America.

  7. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    While I was working in my sons elementary school years ago, I helped work the lunch hour a few times.

    I was appalled when I was Instructed to place 2 Ketchup packets on each tray, because
    "THAT IS THE VEGETABLE"….

  8. volover March 18, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    I have been teaching for 15yrs. Today on our lunch menu (very rarely prepackaged, if ever): Grilled lemon-pepper chicken, broccoli & rice casserole, whole corn, white roll, cup of peaches or banana. Not a bad lunch.
    Our lunch looks better, and I'm sure taste better, than the one at your school. Although our lunch is stacked with carbs, calories, and fat, it is always hand prepped and offers a variety of nutritional foods. Most of the food is of low quality, but what can you expect for $2? 20min is way too long for middle school students (where I teach) to have to eat lunch. If you think 20min is not enough, I encourage you to work lunch duty. I do appreciate your effort to make our school lunches better and I am more than willing to assist you in anyway, but not all lunches are that bad. Please email if I can help.

    John

  9. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    I am a substitute teacher in Wisconsin and everyday I see so much food wasted. The kids might as well be throwing away money with all that is wasted. The kids here get a morning snack (two choices) milk and lunch. Most of it is unhealthy and most of it is wasted. They could save some teachers jobs by choosing foods the students would eat instead of throw away and put that money to pay for teachers salary.

  10. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    One of the things I find most unbelievable is the short amount of time the children get for lunch!

    When I was in middle and high-school (4-8 years ago) we had 45 mins to a whole hour. And sometimes even that was not enough time to eat if the line was particularly long that day or you had an emergency. We had about 700 kids in middle and 3000 in high school so maybe that has some to do with it, but I can't imagine even at a small school that would be long enough.

    Is there any rationale given for the short time?

    How can they expect these children to perform well in classes when they have indigestion from rushing to eat?

  11. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 5:21 pm #

    To add to what another commenter said about portions…
    I had the same experience in school with small portions given to each grade level. Many times we would receive 3 or 4 chicken nuggets, one cookie (salty) and milk. Often we would get just one pizza bagel and milk. Or one burger, an apple and milk. We would always be left hungry after, asking other kids if they would share, trade or give up their food to us.

    And the the commenter that has a school that recycles milk. I though they stopped such things! In my elementary school we did the same thing and I thought it was disgusting. I had hoped someone had halted that policy, guess not.

    All three of my schools were run by the same district in Michigan and I'm pretty sure this was standard across most or all schools in my city.

    To Ms. Q: It's becoming even more apparent that what you are doing is a service to us all.

  12. Stefania March 18, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    Dear Mrs. Q, I'm an Italian elementary school teacher and I was quite shocked a few years ago when, talking to an American friend, I found out what American children are served in school cafeterias. My friend was just as shocked to find out that the food served to students in Italy is chosen by a nutritionist to make sure it is healthy and balanced. The food changes every day so the children don't get bored. Unfortunately it's not cheap and it's a bit bland sometimes, but at least parents can be sure their children aren't eating junk food. I think nutrition is an important part of children's education and schools should set the example.
    You're doing a great job, so hang in there!

  13. Laura March 18, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    This is a clever, interesting, inspiring, and greatly comical project. Turn this into a book when you've finished!!!

  14. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 8:42 pm #

    I applaud what you are doing. My daughter is in high school, and a type 1 diabetic. She has few (if any) options at lunchtime, except to take her own food. The school used to offer salads on the 'snack' menu, but since our state cut school budgets again this year, things like up to date text books and healthy lunches had to take a back seat to more "important" things….like making sure the state championship soccer team has new uniforms every year. Not that sports aren't important, but….I'm just sayin'. Makes you wonder about their priorities. The lunch menu is filled with junk food and carbs (pizza, french fries, nachos, corndogs ect.), and she has told me that the students who have to stand in line sometimes do not even have time to eat before the bell rings to return to class. Their entire lunch period is a total of 20 minutes long, from the time they are dismissed from class until they have to be in their next one. I have spoken with some of the school staff about this, and it seems they either don't care, or have given up trying to change it. Maybe your blog will reach enough of the people who CAN make changes and something will finally get done. YAY for you!

  15. Paty March 18, 2010 at 9:23 pm #

    I applaud you for your effort in trying to make a positive change; however, I can't help but wonder what you exactly it is that you teach?

    As I read your blog I came across several errors in your writing that for a school teacher should have been unlikely. I want to think you were rushing in your postings, or that you simple overlooked them, because if you teach as you write… Well, then you should spend more time worrying about the curriculum and your actual lessons than blogging about what you eat.

    Why not start a group to change your school's lunch program, go to your principal with your ideas, or get really involved in the reformation of school lunches across the nation? You would not lose your job for thinking the school lunches are bad, which would be unsustainable in any court.

    Either way, congratulations on all the popularity you've obtained! Even if it is for your anonymous blog. 😉

  16. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    I am a High School Art teacher in the Midwest, as well… I have also just become introduced to Jamie Oliver from a cookbook my mother bought me this Christmas and was astounded to see of his new show, as just reading his thoughts in the "Jamie at Home" book had me thinking we had the same philosophies about food. I applaud your blog and am forwarding the link to many of the sympatico teachers I work with.

  17. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 10:43 pm #

    For those really worried about the lunches- you should look at the carb count in them. I am a teacher in NC and also a diabetic care manager for students at our middle school… and what I found out was horrifying to me! Though the food may look better than some of the mess I saw here, the content was horrible! Sugar, sodium, not counting other "ingredients" I did not even want to know all are in these foods- and my diabetic kids that have to eat this food- again the "low income" deal- have to take massive amounts of insulin than what they normally would if they ate normal healthy food made at home. I have tried to tell parents to please bring their lunch- but was told over and over it was "easier" for the kids to eat at school-aka cheaper- and as I was told by one parent… "that is why we dont want you to use too many strips- medicare only covers so many". Well, if we did not have sugar loaded foods- we would not have to worry about this! Buns with twice the amount of carbs than you can by in the store- and that is just one example!

    Gets very frustrating to someone like me who has to watch this over and over- and cant do a thing about it except worry about the kids when they cant regulate their sugar…

  18. Anonymous March 19, 2010 at 12:28 am #

    Thank goodness someone is actually standing up for what they believe in. I am a senior in high school, and I get up every morning and pack my lunch. At my school we have 22 minutes to eat lunch, not including the time we have to wait in line.
    The lunches at my school are not bad, but I do not eat lunch unless it's a holiday lunch. The meals have upwards of 1100 calories, half of what I should be eat in a day, and the meals do not even fill me up.
    I hope that through your project you bring more eyes onto the problem of lunches in public schools.

    Good Luck!
    WV Senior

  19. Anonymous March 19, 2010 at 4:47 am #

    Hi!
    Your blog is very intresting. Your school doesn't seem to have very good options for lunch. At my school we have a salad line. We get to choose from like southwest chicken salad, ceaser salad, ham or turky salad, and more. We also have a normal lunch line that goes with a school lunch menu, then we have an italian line, where we can buy pizza, lasangea, and some other food. There's also a slushee line, and a sandwich line where we have options like spicy chicken burger to tuna sandwich. Our lunch is $2 though, no matter what we get.

  20. Anonymous March 19, 2010 at 4:56 am #

    I am a lunch lady in Oklahoma and our program is offer vs serve. The students are offered up to five items they have to chose 3 to make a meal. In the cafeteria where I work we have our normal hot lunch line, mexi-line,pizza line,hot sandwich line,build your own sub line, and salad bar & soup line.
    They always come with fresh fruit and a milk and we do not sell packaged snacks or drinks in our cafeteria we only sell water muffins and cookies that we make ourselves. We do not package all our food. I will try to take pictures and post of our food. We have lots of teachers eat in our cafeteria and serve 1200 students and have an open campus.Proud of my Child Nutrition Department.

  21. swymathecove March 19, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    I agree with "pack it yourself." Do it yourself. Everyone who commented here–did it using the internet and a computer. Think about this–how much money are we spending on THIS each month? Or cell phones? Or cable TV?
    If we can afford these things, we can surely pack a lunch for children.

  22. Anonymous March 19, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    Love the blog!
    When I was in Jr. High I ate the school lunch. Yes, it was quite unpalatable and probably unhealthy but I remember my friends, whose parents packed a lunch, they always had unhealthy food as well. It was always pringles, fruit roll ups, juice boxes, basically tons of HFCS. I guess I just wanted to make the point that a lunch from home can be just as terrible for our children. It's not just the schools but the entire way this country produces food. Something has to change!

  23. Anonymous March 20, 2010 at 1:20 am #

    Like the Lunch Lady From Oklahoma I am proud of out school nutrition program. My grandkids attend public school in St. Joseph, MO and I went to the District Web Site to check out the bus route, alternate bus route, their teacher's page, etc. I was pleasantly surprised yo find their svhool lunch page with nutritional information, menus, etc. In their Mission Statement they tell you that Their mission us to 1) provide a nutritionally balanced, well-prepared mealat low cost 2) meet the requirements of the USDA 3)foster good eating habits in students through positive eating experiences with nutritious food 4)teach the child to assume responsibility for his/her own food needs and nutritional requirements 5) provide a nutrition education approach that helps the student understand that food is basic to growth, development and well-being and 6)provide high quality nutrition in the meals served and avoid the temptation for too many empty calories.Thr Purpose for Healthy School Meals expands on those points as well as explaining the government requirements and gives definations of calorie, carbs, etc. The student snacks are required to have 400mg or less of sodium, 30 gr or less of carbs, 30% or less of total calories can be fat.If you click on the Enhanced Food Based Plannung you will find how they plan the meals and note that all breads are whole grain.IT also explains how much meat, vegetable, grain, etc. is required for age 1-2, preschool, elementary, middle school and high school. You can also click on the Food Pyramid and it takes you to a page that contains tons of information on the food pyramid–when you click on each segment it explains what food that represents, lists foods that fit that category, which is the best ones to use to fulfill that requirement, which ones may fulfill it but may not be a good choice, what size sering is needed to meet that requirement, what that requirement is neccesary for, etc. The page also includes information on your ideal weight for your height, the importance of exercise, etc. All that is on the St. Joseph School District web site. Then on to the practical stuff, the kids like the lunches and their parents have ate with them and they have enjoyed the food as well. I haven't yet ate with them, I'm hoping to eat with them now that the weather has warmed up. The food isn't in bags but is put on a plate on your tray. The oldest girl attended school in Rushville Missouri for pre-school and I did eat lunch with her there a few times. The food there also wasn't served in baggies, it was fresh, warm and appetizing, as well as nutritious. I've never seen school food served as your pictures show. You can check out the web site at SJSD or http://www.sjsd.k12.mo.us

  24. Anonymous March 20, 2010 at 1:34 am #

    In answer to the student who said he gets the same food in high school as his brother in kindergarten, our schools have a differnt lunch for elementary school, middle school, high school. and more food is provided as the kids grow up. Middle school gets more food to meet more needed nutrition and more choices and high school gets even more choices and moe food. I can't imagine a district that would provide the same amout of food to all those age groups.

  25. Anonymous March 21, 2010 at 2:35 am #

    I am also noticing all of the packaging! My son's school just scoops it on a tray. All of that packaging being used must be very expensive! Couldn't money be saved by using the old fashion trays like my sons school uses and maybe that extra money can be used to serve better choices?

  26. Anonymous March 22, 2010 at 12:23 am #

    Thank you so much for what you are doing! I teach at a school where 99% of the students receive free breakfast and lunch. I am thankful that they are getting something to eat, but they deserve a much healthier and more nutritional lunch. Thank you for raising awareness about school lunch food!!

  27. Anonymous March 22, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    I think you took on a much bigger project than you realize. I hope you are reading each and every one of your blogs. Not all schools across America serve bad lunches. Some schools make everything from scratch still! I work in the Cobb County School District of Atlanta , GA and we have a nutritionist who looks at everything, we can print calories, carbs, sodium , etc for a parent or nurse. We serve locally grown produce. But on the other hand some schools have chips, gatorades etc to try and make money. It is America and everyone is greedy for money. The government puts in their 2 cents and gives us government cheese and peanut butter-tasteless and high in fat. Not much we can do about that. Good luck with your project. http://www.cobbk12.org…look at our lunch menus!

  28. Brainfood March 25, 2010 at 12:36 am #

    Hi Mrs. Q.
    I am really enjoying your blog. I'm a long time volunteer with a DC-based organization called Brainfood, where we use food and cooking as a way to empower youth and teach life skills. While not exactly in line with what you are trying to accomplish, I think Brainfood would be a great addition to your other cool folks section. Please check out our website (www.brain-food.org) and consider adding us to your blogroll. Keep up the fantastic work!!! By the way, you can also follow us on Twitter @BrainfoodDC. Thanks so much.

  29. Anonymous March 25, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    Watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on ABC. It comes on this Fri night. He addresses school lunch. Pretty sick to see what our children are fed.

    John

  30. Vikki March 25, 2010 at 8:40 pm #

    Thanks for posting this FAQ section. Answered a lot of questions I had, and some I hadn't thought of. I am posting on my blog tomorrow a request that all teachers, especially women, start buying school lunches to help hide your identity. It would also help others understand why kids are so hyper or dazed after lunch.

    I graduated high school (Seneca, Louisville, Kentucky) in 1980 so I'm pretty old. But I remember our school lunches being served on sectioned-trays, and being freshly cooked, with real ingredients. Our district's favorite was spaghetti, salad, and homemade buns that I can taste to this day.

    Usually my sisters and I took our lunches. Sunday nights we made our week's sandwiches and put them in the freezer. In the morning we grabbed a sandwich, a piece of fruit, carrots or celery with peanut butter, and enuf money for a carton of milk. White milk. Not that flavored garbage.

    I'm not a nutritionist or budget analyst or even a PTA member. I homeschool for a variety of reasons, but this really bothers me… the lack of healthy lunch options and the crying out for not enough money to do better, or the righteous indignation that the school lunches are just fine. I'm going to think about this and post on my website in the next few days some inexpensive healthy menus for school lunches that kids would/should actually eat.

    Thanks for what you are doing. Keep it up, Mrs. Q and you other female teachers… buy your school lunch too!

    Vikki at http://vikkisverandah.blogspot.com

  31. Anonymous March 25, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    For 72%(?) of children, this is their one meal of the day. It's not my job as a tax payer to make sure kids have good nutrition at school – that starts in each child's home AND IS the job of every parent! It's apalling to me that a parent cannot feed a child & relies on the public school system to do it for them. Sometimes, it requires getting a second or third job so that a child doesn't go w/out!

    As a tax payer, I say 86 the school lunch program in public schools altogether if funds are being wasted like this. I'd rather see funding going towards more scholarships, etc… so the kids can get an ivy league education to feed themselves since no one else can do it!

  32. the kimber March 28, 2010 at 2:53 am #

    Wow this is a really great project you're doing. I am currently living in Japan and worked at a public middle school in Tokyo this year. School lunch in Japan is a really big deal – it something that is not taken for granted. Everyone in the school eats the school lunch and the menus are planned by a nutritionist so that the meals meet the Board of Education's requirements. Parents pay around $3.00 a day for the lunches.

    Though some of the meals can be…interesting at times, I have really been inspired by the Japanese school system's focus on school lunch. It assures that all children regardless of home situation has at least 1 nutritious meal a day and parents and children are taught the health benefits of what they're eating. Lunch is eaten in the classroom with a teacher (who is required to eat the lunch too) making lunch a teaching moment too. Japan has an obesity rate of 5% and I do believe that the majority of Japanese people are very aware of what they put in their bodies due to the lunch program tradition.

    I posted a few pictures of my Japanese school lunches on my blog if you'd like to see what kids in Japan are eating and there are a lot of posts/photos out there about kyushoku. I really hope that something like this can be applied in the US to help fight childhood obesity. I think early education is an important first step.

  33. AlegraMarcel March 30, 2010 at 3:49 am #

    I followed a link from a friend's post on facebook. Very interesting blog. I could never eat all that. But I remember being jealous of the junky school lunches everyone else got in HS, when I was stuck eating the healthy lunches my mom packed. Now I'm SO grateful to her!!!

    I am blogging the opposite topic – what I cook every day at home, how I make healthy meals even when I'm tired/busy/etc. I guess food topics are big these days!

  34. Anonymous April 2, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    I am one of those brought to this blog from the Yahoo link a few weeks ago. I teach in the Chicago suburbs now and did my student teaching in the city. Seeing what was served to those kids, I can't even imagine eating it. In the city our lunch period was 15 minutes including dropping off the kids in the lunch room and then picking them out. We referred to our assigned time as "brunch" because in order to file everyone through the lunch room the first lunch period started at 10:00. Even if the kids had healthy options to eat (which they didn't), I don't know how you can create healthy eating habits when the lunch period is so early and so short.

    The school district I teach in now has a 50 minute lunch period 25 minutes of eating 25 minutes of recess, but even more unique is that parents have the option of their kids going home for lunch. About half our students walk home at lunch time, eat with their parents and return to school afterwards. Sometimes these are healthy meals, but of course there are many that just hit up local fast food places.

    Sadly, I think that the American public in general has lost touch with what food is nutritious. It isn't just about calories, or fat or carbs, it is about what essential nutrients are contained. You can easily eat too much food, but essentially be starving your body of vitamins and essential nutrients.

    Thank you for this blog and bringing this important issue to the attention of so many people.

  35. Anonymous April 6, 2010 at 2:12 am #

    Just out of curiosity….have you gained weight???…it would be interesting to know!

  36. Anonymous April 13, 2010 at 3:10 am #

    I'm sad to say that it doesn't end after high school either. Anyone who lives in a residence hall at my college is forced to participate in a meal plan. Approximately 90% of freshmen live in the dorms here, while at other colleges there is a requirement that freshmen live in the dorms. We may get a few more options that are prepared in building, but they are no healthier that the school lunches. For a lot of people the cafeteria food is what they eat 3 times a day, 7 days a week.
    Dinner tonight was pretty fail. The only thing that looked semi edible was the fish sticks which I can't eat due to a fish oil allergy. I ended up with some kinda cheesy rice dish carrot sticks, and broccoli stems. That's right, stems. what happened to serving the edible part of the broccoli, ie. the flower? I was hungry, but I barely ate because I can only stomach so much vegetable that tastes like the bottom of the dishwasher. I can't wait for next year when I am no longer contractually bound to eat UDS meals, and can use the money (~$7-$8/meal) to cook my own food. The sad thing is that some of my friends are afraid to move out of the dorms because they cannot cook for themselves. America really needs to teach its youth how to care for themselves, which includes cooking.

  37. blueangel121896 April 30, 2010 at 2:34 am #

    my school is having that nasty rib-a-que tommoro that i am NOT eating its like mystery meat i wish we had fresher tastier food than this. We have pizza ALL THE TIME!! I wish lunches were more creative we usually have the same thing twice every month sometimes 3 times a month! Im in 7th grade so i know HOW to be healthy and what not to eat and the food i get at school is definately something i should not be eating. Apparently tater tots and french fries are a vegetable…can you believe that!

  38. Anonymous May 4, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

    Have you tried mixing the food? the steak with the corns and bread? I LOVE school lunch when I was a kid. Some stuff I wouldn't eat unless I mix them. The whole fruit thinggie is new to me. The packaging is different. The food still look the same. I love those peanut butter sandwhiches!! hahahaha. Some of the 'plain' or no tasting stuff, I would load it with ketchup. Cheese sandwhiches has no flavor until I add mustard.

    The 20 min lunch is retarded. Kids need time to eat and time to run around after they eat.

    1 meal a day hasn't mess with your health. I think if parent control what their kids ate 2 out of the 3 meals, school lunch wouldn't be a problem.

    I found this blog by mistake. I was looking for the news article about parent complaining when their kids were only given cheese sandwhiches, fruit, and a drink. Some parents what pizza and a bunch of other unhealthy stuff served to their kids.

  39. Anonymous May 8, 2010 at 2:56 am #

    I applaud you for your courage (I wouldn't eat that). I'm a teacher and I have NEVER eaten in my school's cafeteria. I'm currently home with my 1 year old and I made all of her baby food. It scares me to think of sending her to school where she will exposed to these foods. You really got me thinking about what I can do to improve things. Thanks.

  40. Gil May 12, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

    Thank's for the FAQ

  41. Anonymous May 31, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    I work at a public middle school and I agree with you. The food is terrible! I've talked to the surperintendent several times about it. She is working on it, but, I can't eat that stuff everyday. One meal in particular, pizza and soft pretzels with a little tiny container with lettuce. They consider the tomato sauce on the pizza, vegetables and the little bit of cheese is the protein. I don't what the deal is with adding the soft pretzel. I guess the cook thinks the kids need more carbs. (even though they don't get a recess to burn up those carbs!)

  42. Anonymous June 5, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    My school has the exact same lunches as you – the food and daily waste of plastic and cardboard makes my heart sink daily. Our school lunches are decided upon by a "higher power". Any tips on how to help???

  43. Lindy O June 15, 2010 at 4:19 am #

    I did not read through every question/comment here, so forgive me if I'm asking a duplicate question… but does anyone see you taking several pictures of your lunch tray everyday? And wouldn't they wonder why you're doing it?

  44. Chef hand July 29, 2010 at 12:43 am #

    I just came across this blog I think is she right on 1st i would like to say I am a exective chef I grown up in gaithersburg Maryland and I did have school lunch now and then but back then they cook a meal at school not like now. Now I live in a very small town in maine in the coast. 2 years ago I went to school to do someing for my son and I saw what he was eating for luch i for get what it was but I rember thinking i would not feed that to my dog and i had to do something about it so I got a job runing the school luch yes it was about over a 40,000 pay cut for me but being a chef I had to do something about it. my 1st day i was told i could do all the menus but i could not go over 75cent a day and what ever i got from the USDA. I rember thinking how and i going to do that no one eats for that anywhere but i made it work with all the free food from the usda. i had to make it work some of the kids at the shool this was the one meal they got and i had to make it good. so 90% of my food was homemade in houes it was just me and one other cook cooking for 200 to 260 evey day I would go in at 4am evey school day and do all my baking and the am meal at the school and it had to be out by 730 so the kids could eat befor class then i would have to clean up from that and go right in to luch becues it had to be ready for 11:00 am and we had to clean up down dishes and out 2pm they could just pay 8hr of work and no over time so what ever i work out side of that was on me and yes i do not want to go there but i did work 40 to 50 hr a week over my 40 and the kids love me there they know they would get something good ever day.
    now i would like to talk about the free food from the usda that all schools get and yes i know know it free food but 99% of it suck but i had to use it. some ot it waterdown. some of the meat look like it all the meat left over.

    the year befor the school spent very little on food and most day i would not call it a meal one thing i rember see was taco day it was milk, one taco shell with chesse and pudding no meat and no fixings so i come in to the school made thing right and the boss of the school fight me all the way on ever thing but i was feeding just about ever kid in the school. i have been a exective chef for over 10 year now and i know what I am doing but allways wanted it this way or that way.

    thinking back was i was working it nice place where we could do what me wanted and have the $$$ to do anything then to now where I have to thing this way becues I do not have the money to do it. it funny becues I read everwhere about school luches and here me i could go anywhere and make big money but am here cooking for kids but i am glad and happe to see the smiles i big evey day and i know i am going a very good thing. I am sorry i not the best speller.

  45. kelly August 13, 2010 at 5:00 am #

    I graduated in 2007 and live in Michigan. I remember lunch like it was yesterday through out my entire time in school k-12. The food always sucked!! The square pizza alot of kids liked but I looked at it and wondered "what is this slimy cheese with orange greasy stuff", nasty hot dogs that were full of red dots inside, hot ham & cheese on white buns, french fries, chicken ala shitt-o (ckicken ala king??), odd chicken nuggets, nacho salad bar, burger king and dominos pizza. In high school we had foutain pop and two hot food lines (one served normal cheap school food and the other either delivered pizza, burger king or bosco sticks. There was also a school store with energy drinks, cookies, slushys, little debbie snacks, all chip brands and all candy brands!!! WTF is wrong with that picture??? Before I graduated the school district band pop machines and energy drinks. Out of four years in high school I only ate one year in the lunch room and then I wouldnt eat at school until I got home…thats probably why I fell asleep in class alot!

    I really enjoyed this blog. I have a question though for anyone. How come if the government is in charge of this food issue that not all schools have the same garbage to eat? The town next to me also uses plastic re-usable dishes in there schools…how come it would be so different when their school district is only next door to mine?

  46. Anonymous October 27, 2010 at 4:27 pm #

    I think it would be more important to ban that disgusting looking processed meat from schools not only junk food. My 5 year old just started kindergarten. I think about 99% of the kids are on free or reduced lunches at her school. I started packing her lunch for her because she would only drink her chocolate milk and not eat anything. The first week she brought her lunch back not touched. I sent a note asking her teacher why she wasn't taking her packed lunch into the lunch room with her, they said well none of the other kids bring packed lunches so we didn't know she had it in her book bag. I remember in school when they were taking attendance they always asked if you were having hot lunch or packed lunch. That don't even do that anymore! I don't know what it cost me to send her with her lunch, but I feel better sending her with healthy food and not lettign her eat that weird food! She does take a peanut butter and jelly almost everyday but she also takes fresh fruits and veggies.

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