Us AND Them

I have been careful not to disclose my identity, my school, the district, or the food vendor. In case I haven’t been clear before: I like my school and the district. I love what I do and I chose where I work for many reasons. Names are left out because this is not about individuals. The food I am eating at my school is what kids eat in every state in the country every single day.

Fed Up With Lunch is not about blaming. The project was simply a crazy idea I had when I sat down to write my resolutions for 2010. Have you ever heard of a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal)? I don’t know where I heard that term but when I did I thought, “What can I do in 2010 that would challenge me and be totally wild?” And then project came to me. My BHAG: to raise awareness about school lunches by eating what the kids eat every day in 2010. My hope: to help all of us be more reflective about what kids eat at school. I didn’t have a clue that the blog would “go viral.”

I had no knowledge about the school food reform movement when I started the blog. I didn’t know who any of the “big players” were. I’m grateful they welcomed me, but that’s not why I did the blog. I don’t want to be famous and I’m certainly not a hero. I’m a not important, a nobody. Frankly, I prefer it that way.

You know, I’m on the same team as my school, the district and even the food vendor. It’s not “us versus them.” I educate kids and “they” feed kids. We are both doing good things. I think there is a role for all of us. We can do better by working together.

I’m pretty sure that “they” know about the project and I think “they” might be trying to find me. And if you or “they” or anyone wants me to discuss it, please ask me (email address to the right). I have an open door policy. Come on in and join me in what has turned into a national discussion.

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64 thoughts on “Us AND Them”

  1. I love your blog and what you're doing with it but your paranoia is ruining it. Me and my sister follow it but as you get more popular and more paranoid we check it less frequently and only pay attention to what the children are eating. We all understand that you want to make sure your jobs safe, in this economy we all understand that. But it doesn't need to be the underlining tone of 50% of your posts. Have the confidence that what you're posting is good and you're doing the right thing.

  2. Mrs. Q, I wanted to send this as an email but could not locate the email address, hence as a comment. I am retired, a dinosaur, not connected with education or the food service industry, but interested in nutrition and, through your blog, the school lunch program. I have been reading your updates for a month or so. How nice to see that Google watches what I am reading. After I finished reading your recent update on "US vs THEM" (which I love, by the way), I jumped to another RSS feed to update on other international news. After clicking on an item relating events in Eastern Europe, the page opened with three "Ads by Google":

    Catering to Daycare and Schools
    #1 rated service in No. Virginia

    Beverage Companies Team Up Reducing Calories in Schools By 88%

    School Lunches Go back to the Land Lunches that improve student health

    The first is an ad from a food service industry provider looking for school business. The second is an article in a newsletter from a food service industry (soft drink) trade association, saying how by reducing portion size and switching to diet versions of Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper, they have cut calories by 88%. Whoopie-do! I did like the emphasis on "reduced portion size" to cut calories. The third link was very interesting; it is a publication by Edutopia, the George Lucas Educational Foundation, and relates the story of Anthony Geraci in Petersburg, NH and Baltimore, MD and his farm-to-school movement. That one I can commend to your reading.


  3. I believe you're playing an important role in changing the way children eat whether you like it or not. I came across your blog randomly and quickly added you to my own blogroll because what you're doing interests me.

    I really think you're missing an opportunity to change what children are eating in your own school by remaining anonymous. I hope that, when this project is complete, you take it one step further and engage your school board to change the menu from the prepackaged monstrosities you post to something that has actual nutritional value and is recognizable as food.

    I am fortunate enough to be able to send my son to a homeschooling academy and even more fortunate that lunches are not provided. I know exactly what's going into my child's mouth every single meal. You have the opportunity to change what goes into the mouths of children that don't have that opportunity. How wonderful! I hope you use this blog to further the movement for change. Keep eating and keep posting!

  4. Thank you for sharing with us the insight – not just from American schools, but giving us the comparative (with the guest blog posts) about how to her schools across the world are handling school lunches.

    It's amazing to see how a school lunch varies from one culture to the next. I love that you are bringing this information, this awareness to your followers. Keep up the great work!

  5. What you're doing, along with the big players, is vital. Silence on all matters of concern is taken as approval.
    Your desire for anonymity should be respected. I applaud you because it says so much about your real goal — it's about the kids not personal gain.

  6. I have been reading your blog for a while now. We had sent our daughter to public school for a short while but the food and lack of exercise were a part of our decision to pull her and homeschool her. I don't blame you for remaining anonymous! I would too! Don't let other commenters bring you down. You are doing a great job and an important one at that! Keep it up! And thank you……

  7. I have been enjoying reading your blog over the last few weeks. I think what you are doing is very interesting and hopefully can help bring about changes that seem so needed. I don't currently have kids but when I do, unless school lunches change, they will be sent to school with packed lunches. Keep up the good work on your project.

  8. I think that you are a wonderful human being with a heart as big as Texas. You're a good teacher who cares about the kids she teaches. There's nothing wrong with that, nor is there anything wrong with what you're doing here. Some people like to scream and shout from the roof with their flags flying and guns blazing. Some, like you, are raising awareness quietly and in your own way. You are doing what you can in a way that you know how …. and that's a good thing.

    This isn't about who you are. This is about working together as a team. Individual names, etc are not as important as how we, the group, can share and work together. Basic things we are taught in grade school. 😉

    Keep posting Mrs. Q … and know that you have lots of love and hugs coming from NYC!

  9. I guess it's easy for people to call you paranoid but none of us are walking in your shoes.

    I've been reading your blog for a while now and I've found it quite illuminating. As a member of one of those familes who have been affected by the economy and can't afford to send my children's lunch to school, this blog means so much.

    Keep your chin up and don't let the critics bring you down. What you're doing is so important. You're not a nobody. You're an everyday hero.

    This country was founded by people who weren't looking for glory. They were simply trying to do the right thing.

  10. I'm all for your blog and hope to see it continue (even if your stomach may not want it some days). As a mom about to enter the school system for the first time, it's important for parents like me to get a real idea of what goes on for our kids. It's sad to see things based on quota not quality… Children are NOT a production line commodity.
    If "They" think of you as a threat, then they must really know a problem exists. And more parents who are informed and make a case for improvement cannot be ignored.

  11. I am a Child Nutrition Director. The Q & A you had with a "lunch worker" is not accurate. She does not know what the regulations are, why they are there. Neither does she go into how much is reimbursed to the school. All national lunch programs get the same reimbursement. If you would like to know more, e-mail me.

  12. Congrats on what you do! I agree, if you desire anonymity, that should be respected. I really don't get the accusations of paranoia. It seems to me that your assessment of the situation is very accurate. You are seriously risking your job. Just because what you are doing is "right" doesn't mean they won't fire you for it, or you won't go through severe amounts of hell over it. Nor do I think a desire for anonymity means that you aren't proud of your work–there is a difference between being proud of one's work and taking public credit for it. Moreover, it is valuable for your readers to be reminded how serious this issue really is, and how difficult it can be to get good information out to the public. It is possible that you would be able to do more good if you lost your anonymity, but I'm not convinced, and there is value in itself of having you be an anonymous voice. What school are you at? One far away from me, or the one my son goes to? It's easy to ignore blogs that happen "elsewhere".

  13. FYI, from Wikipedia:
    The term Big Hairy Audacious Goal ("BHAG") was proposed by James Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1996 article entitled Building Your Company's Vision. A BHAG encourages companies to define visionary goals that are more strategic and emotionally compelling… Collins and Porras also used this concept in their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.

  14. It's an amazing BHAG, and I know how much courage it must take, anonymous or not. Keep up the GREAT work. Glad you know you are making a difference!

  15. There should be no such thing as neutral in the war against unhealthy children.

    Your intention when starting this blog might not have been to take part in the food revolution, but your posts have clearly fueled the food revolutionists and you have become apart of the movement.

    What the kids eat is found to have a major effect on how they learn and their behavior (not to mention their overall health). As a teacher the children – not your job or the opinion of your district, should be your first concern.

    While understanding that you want to keep your job what you are doing is not something you should lose your job for. Change cannot happen from the shadows.

  16. Off topic but of interest:\
    I just watched my local news and a military professional stated that the school lunches are making unfit soldiers as they are totally filled with fat, sugar and high empty calories. If school lunch does not change, our country will have a lack of soldiers in the next decade. If I can find a link on the website, I'll be more than willing to share it.

  17. It's easy for readers to say "Don't worry" or "Stop being anonymous" or "You're being paranoid." But they're not the ones putting their jobs on the line! I admire what you're doing, Mrs. Q, and if you ever wanted to stop, I'd totally understand. You've done a lot of good already- it would be great if you could keep on doing it, but if you can't, that's okay too. YOU'VE DONE SOMETHING. Most other people can't say that.

    And "Anonymous" #1, if you think Mrs. Q's "paranoia" is ruining the blog, send her enough money to survive on for a couple of years. Her fears are understandable, and we should be thanking her, not being snitty. This blog isn't for your entertainment- it's the story of a real person's life, fears and all.

  18. "The food I am eating at my school is what kids eat in every state in the country every single day."

    Uh, no. The food that the students eat at my school is healthier. It looks 10 times better. There are a ton of choices. I read your blog and I feel sorry for the students, they'd be eating better if they were here.

  19. I don't think you're being paranoid. Food is a sensitive topic, and it gets people's hackles up. And that's just regular citizens, never mind the higher ups that are actually accountable (or should be accountable) for these meals.

    You've made it abundantly clear that you really like your job, your students, and the staff at your school. You've done nothing that suggests this project is detracting from your work as a teacher. You have not violated anyone's right to privacy. I truly hope that if "they" are searching you out, it's because they genuinely want to work with you to improve the situation. It takes a village, after all!

  20. Hats off to you, don't let negative comments take you off this path to awareness and success throughout the school cafeterias! I agree, it is not placing blame on anyone or any program, it is something that is a HUGE problem and it must be changed…somehow, some way! Being a health educator myself, I think what you are doing is BRILLIANT!

  21. You ARE a Hero, and you are NOT a nobody. You are someone who can make a difference through information, the most important commodity we have as far as I am concerned. I understand you want to be "safe" but do not underestimate the power that you have to change lives, even while remaining anonymous.

    If everyone denied their hero status, where would we be?????

  22. For whatever reason you chose to start this blog, I'm glad you did and we should all respect your anonymity. Just by showing what is eaten at your school and including guest bloggers, you're bringing attention to an issue that effects all families with school aged children. People can take this information and use it how they want to. Hopefully change will come naturally, spurred by your blog, as well as other blogs, tv shows, news reports and so on.
    Please keep the project going!


    By MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press Writer – Tue Apr 20, 9:24 am ET
    WASHINGTON – School lunches have been called many things, but a group of retired military officers is giving them a new label: national security threat.
    That's not a reference to the mystery meat served up in the cafeteria line either. The retired officers are saying that school lunches have helped make the nation's young people so fat that fewer of them can meet the military's physical fitness standards, and recruitment is in jeopardy……

  24. Mrs. Q. I applaud your project. After I found your blog, I checked in on my kids lunches at school. I was pleased with what I found. I looked at the menu every month and encourage my kids to try everything once. I also started dropping in on their lunch times to see what they were eating. Overall I'm pleased with what I saw them eating and the quality of the food. I'd love to see more fresh fruits and veggies, but supplement at home. We are blessed to live in a wealthy school district, I'm sure that makes a difference as to what food is served. There is a parent/student/foodservice committee that plans and researches menu choices for our district. I'm including the website link to our school district lunch menus if anyone would like to compare.

    Keep up the good work.


  25. I for one am not fussed by Mrs. Q's paranoia. We see stories every day of teachers and administrators over-reacting to perceived slights and infractions.

    Yesterday I saw a story about a girl getting suspended for three days for, essentially, saying "bang bang!" and pointing her fingers like a gun in class. (

    Or there was the Supreme Court case over a girl getting strip-searched at school over ibuprofen. (

    Or we heard about the students allegedly spied upon by administrators, at home, with their school-issued laptops. ( The one who brought that to light was disciplined for eating a Mike & Ike candy … in his bedroom. (Sort of ironic on a school food blog, actually.)

    Or there was the kid who got the cops called on him (who then proceeded to rampage through his house) when he made the mistake of bringing an at-home science project to school to show his friends. He made a motion detector out of a .5L Gatoraide bottle and was forced into counseling over … going to a technology school and playing with technology? Isn't that what we want kids to do? (

    While Mrs. Q may like her school and think her administrators are da bomb, if they're like the average administrator, they'll take to Mrs. Q's blogging with all the abandon a Bradbury fireman takes to a public library.

    Teaching is an extremely conservative profession. Even the best teaching methods are based on conformance and performance, and teachers conform or they are history. American education grew from a need to produce factory workers, and it does that very well. Even though we don't need factory workers anymore, which is a symptom of the underlying problem.

    Administrators in particular have absolutely no incentive to innovate, think outside their little boxes, or overlook things that "might" be dangerous but in reality are pretty innocuous. Many of them are perfectly happy to destroy the career of someone who does, because it threatens their little fiefdom.

    I hope that Mrs. Q is wrong to be terrified. I hope that her administration is intelligent, enlightened, and gets the point. I hope that they read her blog and understand that she'd jump through rude portions of her anatomy to help her students eat better and be healthier (and, by extension, learn better). I hope that they realize that, like she says, she isn't AGAINST anybody — she's FOR the kids.

    But such enlightenment would surprise me.

  26. I love reading your blog, my daughter is only 20 months so I am keeping my fingers crossed that things change a bit before she enters school. I will pack her lunch if not but I always found buying school lunch fun when I was a kid. Anyway I saw this article on yahoo today and wanted to post the link for you…

    It may not be for the right reasons but maybe labeling it a "national security threat" will help bring attention to it.

    Keep on blogging!

  27. Anonymous said…

    "I love your blog and what you're doing with it but your paranoia is ruining it. But it doesn't need to be the underlining tone of 50% of your posts. "

    What paranoia? Mrs Q is simply safeguarding her job. Instead of slamming her for being careful why don't you put your job on the line and do something to help bring forth change.
    I truly believe that Mrs Q needs to be
    careful. Example…. the school teacher that tried to teach her kids about nutrition and offered them healthy alternatives. She was almost fired, told to only teach her curriculum and had to apologize to the lunchroom staff. How degrading and unfair, prosecuted for teaching nutrition. see story here.


    I say keep up it anonymous that way one, your job is safe and two, you can see if there are any changes to the food not because your school is named but because the officials have seen the light.Keep up the good work and ignore the anonymous ding dongs that are not putting there own jobs on the line to highlight a big problem.

  28. Anonymous said…

    "I love your blog and what you're doing with it but your paranoia is ruining it. But it doesn't need to be the underlining tone of 50% of your posts. "

    What paranoia? Mrs Q is simply safeguarding her job. Instead of slamming her for being careful why don't you put your job on the line and do something to help bring forth change.
    I truly believe that Mrs Q needs to be
    careful. Example…. the school teacher that tried to teach her kids about nutrition and offered them healthy alternatives. She was almost fired, told to only teach her curriculum and had to apologize to the lunchroom staff. How degrading and unfair, prosecuted for teaching nutrition. see story here.


    I say keep up it anonymous that way one, your job is safe and two, you can see if there are any changes to the food not because your school is named but because the officials have seen the light.Keep up the good work and ignore the anonymous ding dongs that are not putting there own jobs on the line to highlight a big problem.

  29. Mrs. Q,

    I understand and respect your anonymity. In these economic times I can understand wanting to protect and hold your job. What you are doing is very important. It's the research the rest of can't or won't do about school lunches. I think you can be anonymous and still make an important contribution to the bigger picture. I really hope you can continue to document school lunches on the front line. Thank you!

  30. I love your blog, read it every day, and I understand your desire to remain annonymous. How can you guarantee any parent will stand with you to instill the changes necessary? I think the problem with changing school lunches stems from economics, on more than the simple "the district buys what it can afford." We are blessed to live in an area where many moms stay at home and are very involved in volunteering and visiting thier kids during lunch times, including myself. Nothing can be hidden from "us." We have the time to complain and instill change in our district. I also understand that many parents do not have this luxury. It is much easier to feed kids junk when parents do not have the time to see it much less complain about it. Comming from a single parent household, I do not fault these parents for not being able to have lunch regularly with thier children. Housing and feeding a family is more important than having lunch at school. By no means are the choices offered here perfect (we still get processed chicken on a pretty regular basis), but the kids are offered choices: Chef salad daily, side salad offered daily, 2 options for a main course, fresh apples and bananas in addition to a fruit and veggie given with lunch. Change can only be made when the ones with the time begin to care what goes on in other districts, not just our own. We are a nation, not just a town. Until the "haves" are willing to help the "have-nots" nothing will change.

  31. I completely concur with Wildhair…there is nothing wrong with your wish for anonymity…it gives us a view of how things are without us the reader forming a bias as to the area of the country or the school system etc.
    I commend you for what you are doing…and yes I am sure as you are that "they" do know and if they don't then poopoo on them…even a small change or at least making others aware is a huge step in my book. So kudos to you and all you do…it makes people think . That to me is important and I don't need to know who you are to do that.

  32. I completely agree with the previous poster and disagree with the first poster. (not trying to be unkind). This thing has taken a life of it's own and is going to continue to do so. You aren't responsible for changing the food at your school or anyone else's school. You are just hosting the idea of it through your own consumption of the food your kids eat which I think is hugely brave within itself. I love the guests you have on giving us different sides of the issue at hand. You gain perspective that way. What I think people forget is that you are a teacher and have a regular job, home life, etc and want to keep the sacred, sacred. I applaud you. I hope something larger can come out of this and it doesn't just get hyped up and serves only the elite (as does some of the food movement does). To me, it's about helping our most vulnerable, the children, especially those who are counting on those calories to possibly sustain them the rest of the day.

  33. what you are doing is important for so many reasons…. it amazes me what they serve kids these days…. amazes me b/c 1. it hasnt changed that much from what i remember, and 2. its unfortunate that children's nutrition isnt being taken more seriously. that being said…. have you seen this article yet?

    interesting. please keep doing what you're doing!!! thank you!!!

  34. I stumbled across your blog accidentally and keep coming back to see what is new. I saw this article on yahoo and thought of you

    This is a real concern across the country oh and did I mention…I don't even have children of my own, just 2 nieces! I think what this blog and the others are accomplishing is wonderful! I keep tuning in to learn more and more! I especially enjoy your guest bloggers as it gives a nice perspective across the country! 🙂

  35. Keep up the good work and know there are a ton of supporters out there! I'm a teacher as well, and I know how scared you must be sometimes, so please ignore those comments about your "paranoia" because I think those who believe in the cause will read, no matter what. I have been inspired to show your blog (and other related blogs) to my Journalism students, and they are now gaining interest. They realize what they eat is pure trash, and some of them are watching the Jamie Oliver show. Now, as a class, we are all participating as lobbyists for the School Lunch movement by calling in on April 21! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WHAT YOU ARE DOING!

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