Day 111: chicken nuggets

Today’s menu: chicken nuggets (baked), collard greens, corn muffin, grapes

I made sure to look over the menu (yesterday was not “rib-b-que” but “meatloaf,” which really makes no difference at all — it’s just a name) and noticed that the chicken nuggets say “baked.” That is good, but they are still nuggets full of fillers.

The “mystery greens” are back! They are collard greens. Newsflash: they were not bitter like the time I ate them had to spit them out right away (just made myself shiver). Eating them wasn’t a positive experience. They are just not good. Notice that the container is larger than it was last time…

The muffin is the grain. It was dry, but that’s how corn muffins often are I guess.

Grapes! That’s another new item. I’m so happy to see them.

Here’s my trash — couldn’t finish the greens!

***

The Child Nutrition Act is set to expire in EIGHT DAYS and then funding just disappears (8-Day Countdown: Generals and Scientists Urge Congress to Pass the Child Nutrition Act). Please call your representative in the House and urge them to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act. You can look up your representative and make a call directly or you can send an email here and here.

When you take action, please leave a comment so that I know I inspired you to act on behalf of kids like the ones I work with every day.

***

I want you to read You Can Change Your School’s Food from The Slow Cook. I think he is a terrific advocate and as a professional journalist, he lays it out there perfectly.

From the perspective of an educator I can say that unequivocally that parents rule the school. To get better, you have to demand it and keep pushing until you get what you want. That does not mean that you have to be rude to administration or teachers. There are many ways to twist arms in subtle ways just by being present and persistent. Engage your student’s teacher in a conversation about school food. You may find a sympathetic advocate. If not, ask your child about other teachers they interact with in the school and arrange a meeting over parent/teacher conferences.

Also it would be wise to gather a group of parents together and get at least one teacher on board. Parents have the “oomph” and a teacher or two add even more legitimacy to the ideas of reform. It’s not just a “rogue band of parents,” but instead a small, focused group with an employee or two of the principal.

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34 Responses to Day 111: chicken nuggets

  1. d12brown September 23, 2010 at 2:06 am #

    Corn muffins are not suppose to be dry! Once again, time to visit Texas (or at least the South) and get some real cornbread and collard greens. šŸ™‚

  2. MFA Mama September 23, 2010 at 2:13 am #

    I just e-mailed my local rep. about the Child Nutrition Act urging him to do what he can to help reauthorize it! My kids receive subsidized school lunches and it helps us out a lot. I'm pleased to report that I've gone in and checked out the cuisine on several occasions and found that the school lunches here seem pretty healthy! Yesterday my boys had turkey and cheese sandwiches on whole wheat buns, raw "baby" carrots, unsweetened applesauce, and milk. Not too shabby!

  3. Ms.T September 23, 2010 at 2:17 am #

    Even though the chicken nuggets are "baked", you may find that they were fried before they were frozen, then baked to reheat. Plus, you still have no idea what is actually in them.

    The collard greens just looked unappetizing. Food needs to look good, too.

    Corn muffins should be MOIST, not dry! Reheating probably dries them even more.

    Grapes are tasty but as someone who supervises lunches I see them more often flying through the air or squashed on the floor. I'd rather see larger fruits such as sliced oranges, apples, pears or bananas.

  4. Melissa RD September 23, 2010 at 2:31 am #

    I just emailed my representative to encourage him to act to help reauthorize the Child Nutrition bill. I am a Registered Dietitian with a hope to one day specialize in Pediatrics. I love that you are learning more about healthy nutrition as you are opening the eyes of many others, or at least leading us to think about various issues related to everyday nutrition.

  5. Melissa September 23, 2010 at 2:43 am #

    I signed the petition on change.org. Something needs to happen!

  6. Anonymous September 23, 2010 at 2:51 am #

    Collard greens are delicious when cooked properly! You can steam them are serve them with some garlic-tahini dressing, or saute them with tofu and turmeric. Yum!

    I emailed my representative regarding the Child Nutrition bill. Love your blog- I've been reading it since the beginning!

  7. Shannon September 23, 2010 at 4:34 am #

    I don't think I could have choked down the greens. I realize the idea behind variety, but with veggies, wouldn't they be better off with ones that there is a chance kids would eat? Mine are great eaters and there is no way I could have gotten them to eat that. Today, they had cucumber and celery sticks with carrot-ginger dressing, plus baby carrots (I go through a ton of those). For dinner, we had salads with spaghetti in a nice marinara, so more veggies.

    Do they ever do melon for fruit? The kids ate half a cantaloupe today (it was sliced in the fridge, so they just helped themselves, thankfully it's on sale this week!)>

  8. Jay September 23, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    I sent an e-mail. My rep is Eric Cantor so I doubt it will do any good. Here's hoping.

  9. satiglenn September 23, 2010 at 11:20 am #

    I signed the petition and sent a letter.

  10. UNCOVERINGTHEREALme September 23, 2010 at 12:17 pm #

    I'm emailing now as we speak and also posted a blog about this quoting you if thats alright. I don't have that many readers so whatever little bit helps!

    By the way those collard greens look gross! D:

  11. Anonymous September 23, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

    I just want to echo your "parents rule the school" comment. A few vocal parents have a lot more influence over administration than a whole school full of teachers. In my school, even one vocal parent can get things changed faster than a building full of teachers-but that is a whole other issue.

  12. Rachel September 23, 2010 at 12:52 pm #

    Actually, that doesn't look too bad, considered what they normally get. Yeah, canned collards kind of suck, but it's better than fries.

    I'd eat it, except the bird. I'm vegetarian.

  13. Neysa September 23, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    Oh God… The collard greens are BLACK!!! That's what happens when they're overcooked; no wonder they aren't good. Blech.

  14. Anonymous September 23, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    I signed the petition and emailed my representative to urge him to sign the child nutrition bill. I read your blog daily, and have since you started it. Thank you for bringing school lunches to so many people's attention.

  15. Mary Beth September 23, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    Signed the petition- here's hoping Congress gets the message… I also love your paragraph about parents having power and how they might amplify that power by working with a teacher. If more people knew this, we'd have that much stronger schools.

  16. Brooke September 23, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    I would not touch those greens…and I can guarantee my kid wouldn't either. Gross. Did you see any child eating that?

  17. Emily September 23, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    I sent a letter to Sander Levin in Michigan, and signed the petition, plus posted it on my facebook page. Thanks for reminding me about this!

  18. Shannon September 23, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    Yay grapes! That's new, isn't it? I don't think I've seen those before.

    There have been a few awful, beige days but is it me, or do the meals seem to be a bit better this year? Grapes, fresh salad, an orange.

    I'm also curious how many kids you saw actually eating the greens.

  19. UNCOVERINGTHEREALme September 23, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    I just emailed my entire school faculty about this as well!

  20. Ann September 23, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

    Try putting some vinegar (apple cider) and red pepper flakes. BYOCondiments could make the greens a lot tastier!

  21. Anonymous September 23, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    I sent a letter to my representative!

    Thank you for keeping child nutrition in the spotlight and spurring people to talk about this incredibly important issue!

  22. Renee September 23, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    I have signed the petition and sent the letter, but my rep (Manzullo) would be totally uninterested in anything that might cost a tiny bit of money and be good for people.

    I think the collard greens speak to how out of touch the people planning these lunch menus are with the kids they're feeding. No child would willingly ingest that mess unless they were honestly starving.

  23. Viki September 23, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

    posted on facebook, sent a letter too!

    Was the corn muffin sweet? The corn bread I make isn't. I love greens, but I saute them in olive oil with plenty of garlic. You just can't cook them to death. The center "rib" or stem bit will sometimes be bitter or peppery on some greens.
    When I was a child a bit of ham with greens and corn bread was a meal. Not one I was really fond of because my grandmother cooked the greens to death. My dad liked them with a bit of vinegar.
    Glad to see a few grapes. Those nuggets looked Dry and hard. You know how I feel about nuggets.
    yuck.

  24. Kim September 23, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

    Mrs. Q, I sent a letter to my rep, John Larson, and I signed the petition. Many thanks for providing the links that made it so easy to do.

  25. Lisa R. Suriano September 23, 2010 at 8:17 pm #

    Hooray for grapes! It is encouraging to see fresh fruit more often in your pics this year! I truly believe that is primarily YOUR doing.

    The veggie situation is really frustrating though. I dont understand why collard greens of all things would be served like that. There are so many delicious and enticing ways to serve greens to kids. This way is such a turn off – it makes me sad.

  26. Tacomamama September 23, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    I love greens, but only when cooked properly and I know better than to even offer them to the kids. (Although I have tried in the past.) FYI for your own culinary explorations at home turnip greens rock and they really make collards more tasty if you add them to the mix.

    Try a can of these some time if you want to know what they should taste like:

    http://www.sylviassoulfood.com/MixedGreens.html

  27. NatalieG September 24, 2010 at 1:05 am #

    I hadn't realized the current act expired so soon. Petition has been signed, a letter sent, and I've posted to my FB profile. Hope it makes a tiny bit of difference.

  28. Yolanda September 24, 2010 at 2:15 am #

    I just signed the Nutrition Act. I'm a college student who is majoring in Education(grades k-8 and special education, k-12) I have been reading your blog since the beginning. I'm very proud of what you are doing.

  29. Baby Life September 24, 2010 at 5:18 pm #

    I had already signed this petition! Thx for putting it on your post. I hope something good happens as a result of all this hard work. I had originally seen the petition request on the Let's Move Facebook page… http://www.facebook.com/letsmove. You can also find it at http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.letsmove.gov%2F&h=6d16d
    BTW when I first saw the greens (before reading the post) I thought, "Oh cool they're serving Black beans, I wonder where the rice is?" Now I know

  30. Tina September 24, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    Those greens make me sad šŸ™ I love greens and eat them all the time (just finished lunch of leftover enchilada casserole with a whole layer of sauteed collard greens!) But what kid would actually eat those? I mean, if they are going to only give you one real veggie at least make it one that will get eaten! That is the best way to turn kids off of yummy veggies for life, overcook them and then don't season them at all. What a waste.

  31. Amanda September 24, 2010 at 9:18 pm #

    No wonder kids think green veggies are gross!

    I love collard greens, but even I will admit they're a food for more grown-up palates, even if they are prepared well. I wouldn't have liked them as a kid. I didn't get into eating them until I was in my 20's. Way to raise another generation of veggie haters, School! :-/

    Also, I might have said this for your last collards post, but so much for their silly, "We have to feed the kids chicken nuggets and pizza every day because that's what kids like to eat," excuse. If that's your reasoning, than what were you thinking when you gave the kids this, School? Makes me almost think that they do this every now and then on purpose to prove that kids don't like vegetables. But that would be silly and paranoid, right?

    But yay for the grapes!

  32. Anonymous September 25, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    I think using fresh spinach in a salad would have been more appealing than those cooked greens. Sometimes greens are bitter too, depending on how they are cooked and the time of year if they use fresh ones.

  33. Anonymous September 25, 2010 at 7:13 pm #

    Another comment about the greens. My kids school uses whatever is the cheapest and simplest thing to prepare. For instance, they will cook peas because they know kids won't eat them, but a big box of frozen peas goes a long ways and satisfies the requirement as to what they must serve the kids. Alot of kids dump them in the garbage. Whey serve stuff you know won't get eaten? When kids get home, they are starved because they didn't have much of a lunch.

  34. Cassandra Yorgey September 30, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

    I sent an email, hope it's not too late.

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