Day 101: chicken nuggets

Today’s menu: chicken nuggets, two slices of bread, carrots, fruit cup, milk
The bread/nugget combo is bizarre, but that’s USDA regulations for grain for ya! I ate everything… and I’m done for the school year! **happy dance**

***

I want to dedicate this project to two groups of people. Of course I’m doing this for the kids at my school. My own child was my inspiration, but what has kept me going are the faces of my students especially when I watch them line up for lunch. Hunger, eager, and just plain cute. I don’t want to generalize because there is a tremendous amount of diversity at my school, but on the whole the students at my school have working class parents. Parents who work for the McDonald’s at O’Hare, Taco Bell, Old Country Buffet, Starbucks, etc; parents who work the night shift at Target; parents who work second or third shift at various factories (one parent makes clothing); parents who are day laborers; parents who are in school studying nursing or accounting or medical assisting to make a better life for the family; parents on welfare; parents in gangs; parents with serious disabilities; parents who clean your office at night… People who don’t have a ton of money and are doing the best they can. My students are no less deserving of quality food than any other American kids.

And I also want to dedicate the project to all lunchroom staff including “lunch ladies” and food service professionals who are busting their asses to feed millions of needy kids every day. Lunch ladies don’t have any power to make changes and certainly don’t get much respect considering the amazing work they do. Too many kids go to bed hungry and lunch ladies are there to offer a hot meal and a friendly face to the kids that need it the most. The lunchroom manager at my school has personal relationships with some of the “troubled youth” at my school. I know that makes a big difference in their lives even if they only get to chat briefly in the lunchroom once a day. It only takes one staff member in the school to make an impact on the life of one student and sometimes it’s not their classroom teacher. I mentioned before that my school is not air conditioned…well, can you imagine the kitchen? If you have ever worked in food service you know that it is hard, sweaty work but without air conditioning? Anyway, I want to thank them.
***
So if you visit the blog for the daily school lunches, this is it until the Fall. I’m excited that tomorrow I can go to work and not eat school lunch. In fact, over my lunch break I’m probably going to get real tacos at a little hole in the wall that I absolutely adore that’s not too far away. It’s a special treat…my mouth is already watering…el pastor with cilantro. I wish you could join me!

The rest of this week I’m going to blog more about “what I’ve learned” about the project, a June recap, and I’m going to want your nominations for June’s titanium spork. My doctor’s appointment is scheduled for Friday and the allergist on Monday so I’ll update you on my health next week (I really don’t expect to see major changes in my health).

I will cell phone blog every couple days. I’m available by email for any questions…I’m thinking about organizing some kind of massive free conference call about school lunches. Wouldn’t that be interesting? Some additional guest bloggers will contribute sporadically and then in July and August I will be blogging about my volunteering experience. So check back in with me over the summer to see what I’m up to.

Thanks so much for your support and for participating along with me. It has meant the world to me to read your encouraging emails. This has been a really, really long 101 days of school lunches. There is no doubt in my mind — I couldn’t have done it without you guys!
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22 Responses to Day 101: chicken nuggets

  1. Riotious June 17, 2010 at 2:35 am #

    Well done Mrs Q – it certainly has been interesting following you these past few months and seeing the discussions that crop up! I hope you have a great summer, enjoy that taco 🙂

  2. Anonymous June 17, 2010 at 2:37 am #

    Enjoy you lunch tomorrow. May your summer hiatus be refreshing.

  3. NJS June 17, 2010 at 2:54 am #

    I still can't believe they serve bread as a grain. Couldn't they do something with it, like make a deli sandwich and skip the chicken nuggets?

    Thanks for your reports, Mrs. Q. School lunches are either different at your location that where I grew up or have changed in the short time I've been out of K-12. And not in a good way.

  4. Cindy Tran June 17, 2010 at 3:06 am #

    Congratulations! I'm so glad you made it through even with some indigestion from bad lunches…eh. Lol. I hope you have a lovely, RECUPERATIVE summer! 🙂

  5. Karin June 17, 2010 at 3:51 am #

    You are my hero. Thank you for all your efforts!

  6. Olumide June 17, 2010 at 4:54 am #

    Your writing has been educative. I am looking forward to reading your posts next school session.

  7. krista June 17, 2010 at 4:54 am #

    bravo! while i will miss your daily posts, i am happy that you will be able to enjoy your lunches. thank you for all your hard work.

  8. oreneta June 17, 2010 at 5:43 am #

    Any chance of a photo of the taco? You're making me hungry…..

  9. Anonymous June 17, 2010 at 7:41 am #

    "Parents who work for the McDonald's at O'Hare, Taco Bell, Old Country Buffet, Starbucks, etc." Are you sure you want to specify "O'Hare?" If it means the Chicago airport you're risking making yourself easier to identify …

  10. Jim Purdy June 17, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    Have a great summer, and enjoy the "real tacos."

    Jim Purdy
    The 50 Best Health Blogs

  11. Anonymous June 17, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    Kudos on doing this! I've enjoyed your blog everyday since I stumbeled upon it. Keep up the good work! Have a great summer!!! 🙂

  12. Anonymous June 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    have a great summer and enjoy the time with your family!!

  13. Carol Dannhauser June 17, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    Hi Ms. Q. I'm breathing a sigh of relief on your behalf. Thanks for your interesting posts. If you ever want a free – and local and (mostly) organic lunch – and are in Fairfield, CT – c'mon over. You're welcome at my lunch table anytime.

  14. Maid Marion June 17, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    thank you for all you have done. thank you also for thanking the lunch ladies, rarely do we get a thank you from adults although my kids are quick to thank and compliment the chef!

  15. brownie June 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    Can you post posts of lunches of what you would normally eat? It would be nice to see the contrast…

  16. Anonymous June 17, 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    Ms Q., I'll miss your posts (I've been reading 'em daily, from the beginnig!!!). If you will visit Rome, Italy during your vacations, I'll invite you and your family to eat a pizza that will immediately make disappear in your mind all those you had to chew during the blog experience at school….

  17. VIP L-Dub June 17, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    Congrats on making it thru! I've been following since day 47 and I must say that these lunches arent much different from the ones I had in grade school over 15 years ago…and somehow I thought they were delicious! Although the best days for me were when we got corn, there was just something about that corn in the square package with plastic on top that called my name! have an awesome summer!

  18. Anonymous June 17, 2010 at 10:15 pm #

    I enjoyed reading your blog very much! I've visited it regularly, and was very inspired by your movement.

    I really loved the part about your school's lunchroom manager's relationship with "troubled youth." It made me remember my days in high school in a small midwestern town, where I was sort of an "outcast" because I was one of very few foreign born students there. Every day I looked forward to eating school lunch a. because for me food was my comfort when I felt so isolated and lonely, and b. because the lunchroom staff at my school were incredibly sweet and would always have a warm smile on their faces and few nice words to say. I made it out of high school with only one or two peers whom I would call "friends," but all of school's teachers and staff became my true friends. I still talk to many of the school's teachers and staff, even after college, marriage and couple of kids later.

    I'd like to say "thank you" to all your readers who are teachers, lunchroom staff, and school staff, who do their best to make a difference in a child's life.

  19. Mrs. Q June 18, 2010 at 3:22 am #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love my readers.

  20. katieelizabethreid June 19, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    Those are the biggest chicken nuggets I've ever seen. More like chicken tenders.

  21. Nixontech_blank June 20, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    Thank you for giving your insight all these days. Knowing that all this work was worth all of the excess sodium and heavy preservatives consumption. I have to confess to something, when I was 2/3 into the second semester of my Junior year, I had boycotted the cafeteria because they lost my money a total of four times. I usually gotten something small but filling at a walgreens across the street.

    It is an honor to read through your blog, I literally visited each day as much as possible. This summer will be a good time to zero-out any bad spots left by the food. Even though this mission is not very pleasant, I look forward to the next school-lunch-marathon you could possibly do.

  22. smalltownsinglemama June 21, 2010 at 2:37 am #

    I found your blog through Neatorama and am impressed by your resilience on this project! I have noticed that most of the meals are not food that is cooked in the cafeteria but rather processed food that is simply re-heated. That shocks me. When I was in school, I LOVED school lunch; I knew that it was made in the cafeteria, from "scratch," and not just re-heated (each 5th grader got to help one day a week).

    Good job and good luck!

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