It’s National School Lunch Week! Hug a Lunch Lady!


October 10th through October 14th is National School Lunch Week. I say celebrate by thanking a lunch lady. They are on the front lines in the fight against childhood hunger and their work improves classroom performance.

National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day on Wednesday October 12th. This week go to school with your child(ren) and have lunch together.  There are some online resources (http://myhealthyschool.com/) available for planning your visit. Eating school lunch with your child is the best way for you to know what is going on in the cafeteria. It will give you a chance to see what is working and what isn’t. The food might not be the biggest challenge as parents have told me that the most troubling thing about school lunch at their schools is the lack of time. That’s why being a journalist in your child’s school cafeteria is the best way to collect information. This week is dedicated to celebrating the school lunch program and it is the perfect time for you to visit the cafeteria. And you don’t have to sneaky about it like I was!

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13 Responses to It’s National School Lunch Week! Hug a Lunch Lady!

  1. Jeannette Kravitz October 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    Twitter: @ecochallnge2020

    Hi Sarah, I read about you in the Trib, then you were on my fav TV news/magazine shows that same day. I am very proud of you for taking a stand.

    My husband and I have a skin care line and spa in River North (Chicago) and I have been doing youth advocacy for 11 years. Last year, we developed and launched our skin care line, Peacespaproducts.org to raise funds for healthy eating advocacy and get the spa industry leaders behind this issue of healthy foods for kids.

    You can find our more at http://www.ecochallenge2020.org. (We just found out last night that ‘spammers’ got into our websites. We are working to get this corrected today or early tomorrow. Our web developer tells us he has it handled and we should be back on line by then.)In

    In any event, I keep my spnsrkids@aol.com account specifically for this reason, so that I can communicate!

    Sarah, it’s not often I find someone as brave as you and I, to try to change the system. We have big plans for this concept to take hold next year. It would be great to meet with you as we are in the early stages of a fun event to drive awareness next year.

    I look forward to our thoughts/reply and to meet:) We have some really positive things going on and I look forward to sharing the fun and hands-on experiences for 2012!

    Have a beautiful day.
    Jeannette Kravitz
    Executive Director
    ECOChallenge2020.org
    CEO
    PeaceSpaProducts.org

    • M L October 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

      I am a lunchlady and we too have changed many things in our lunch program, whole grain , fresh produce etc, only to see it be thrown in the garbage. Now our program is losing money . Maybe the program should end and let parents make lunches!!! I believe that parents are becoming to reliant on programs like this. Many schools do not have lunch programs , because they do not want to deal with the nonsense.

  2. Stacey October 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    I admire what you are doing but, there are other issues out there with the lunch system so I couldnt imagine hugging the lunch lady at my son’s school. My son is in kindergarten and the second week of school we had a huge issue. He took his lunch money in an envelope as asked . His name, teachers name , and lunch money written as asked. The teacher didn’t take it out of his backpack . He went to lunch , went through the lunch line, got a tray, sat down to eat , and the evil lunch lady told him he didn’t have money and couldn’t eat. She threw his food in the trash. He is 5 years old and went an entire day at school without food. Now, I truly see this as a form of abuse and neglect. To make a long story short, yes, I notified all I could and a simple sorry was all I got. I still had to pay for the lunch that was thrown away to clear his account so he can order food. He still has anxiety about eating lunch at school. And I will always be upset about it.

    • M L October 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

      Stacey, At our school if a child does not have money, they will get a sandwich and milk and be charged accordingly. I believe this is mandatory. Full lunches cannot be given without payment because the lunch programs are not for profit ,every cent goes back into salary, supplies etc. In our school the teacher is responsible for collecting the money, in the beginning of the day. In any case a sandwich and milk should have been offered , if he refused nothing can be done.

    • Tricia November 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

      How awful! When we were kids if you forgot your lunch money, they gave you a PB&J. Where my kids currently go to school, they allow them to “charge”, but the account must be made current ASAP.

  3. Diana R October 12, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    Hi Ms. Q! I just want to share my recent experience when, for the very first time, I went to have lunch with my kindergarten son and I bought lunch from the cafeteria. It was horrible!!! I used to work in a hospital and let me tell you that the food from the hospital was way better than the one from school. Spicy chicken, salty rice and a almost green banana. I’m so glad that I try to pack everyday lunch for my little one, not matter if sometimes I run out of ideas, and I pack a peanut butter sandwich, I choose whole grain bread and real peanut butter.

  4. Roe October 12, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    I work at an elementary school and our lunch ladies are MEAN! I’m pretty sure nobody wants to hug them! Besides school lunch is awful!

  5. patty October 12, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

    Hello Sarah. Iam the asst. manager of a middle school cafeteria. While I applaud your commitment to what you set out to do, I have issues with the outcome. I do understand that you are in Chicago, which has a Large public school system, so the method they use to produce school lunches is on a bigger and different scale than smaller districts. Having said that, I feel that your commentary makes all of us look bad. I live in a rural community. We have 6 elementary schools, 2 middle schools and 1 high school. This year I feed over 600 children in my school. I make a huge effort to cut fat & sodium in our food, when we can. While we do serve the pre-made norms of chicken nuggets, corn dog nuggets & pizza, we dont serve them everyday. Anything else we make, ie: spaghetti, tacos, chicken potpie, we make from scratch, the day we are serving it. We serve frenchfries, tator tots only twice a week. Everyday our kids have fresh fruit, canned fruit & 2 vegetables to choose from. What you and most pundits fail to understand is that public schools that are on the federal school lunch program are required to follow their guidelines. We are required to offer a certain amount of meat (protein), fruit, vegetable & breads a day/week. Our school system follows the “offer vs. serve” program. Which means we donot simply slap the food on a tray. The kids are given choices and they have to pick what they want. So if they have poor eating habits at home they make poor choices at school. Over which we have no control. If a student chooses a piece of pizza, roll & milk for lunch I can say nothing. They have the protein, a bread serving & a milk. In order for a lunch to be considered a “reimbursable” meal by the govt. ( they make up the cost vs. what we charge) they have to have 3 of the 5 food groups on their tray. So while we may have green beans, sweet potatoes, oranges, apples, bananas & a canned fruit offered that day if they only take pizza, roll & a milk there is nothing we can do.
    My point is Im tired of being labeled as the people making kids fat & unhealthy when it all starts at home. We take pride in our work and do the very best we can, given what we have to work with. So the lunch ladies most certainly deserve a hug!

  6. Amy October 12, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    It’s very admiring what you are doing and all. Have you ever heard the voice of opinion through a student?

    My school use to have good lunches. Everyone would line up to eat. Now, they switched the whole food menu and are trying new “healthier” foods because of some “lady”.

    No one eats anymore. We all rather starve than eat what they are serving us now a days. If you saw the foods they are serving us now, you would agree with me. We liked the foods they served us before.

    No one cares if it’s healthy or not. We ate it cause it was good. Thanks to this, we now eat crap.

    Im not bashing or anything. It’s just. Us kids would rather leave things as they are. Plus, the amount of walking we do around school is enough to burn off everything we ate.

    The healthier foods is a good thing for little kids. Kindergardners, middle schoolers. But couldnt have you guys left us highschoolers alone? We study and work so hard during the day, that we look forward to eating. Now since the food they serve us isnt even food anymore we starve! Trust me, do you know how many kids have thrown up the “food” they served us?

    Again, I admire you’re hard work and all, but thanks to your motivation of parents. Our school lunches have gotten worse in stead of good.

    Sincerely,
    -The voice of the students.

  7. M L October 14, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    I am a lunchlady and in many ways I agree with the you students. We too have switched over to whole grains and fresh produce. Only to see most of it go in the garbage. Who says you have to buy a lunch, why not make your own.

  8. Jim Boyle October 15, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    I volunteer at an elementary school in Texas, and our lunches are dreadful!! The district dietician put out a memo about the perils of chocolate milk, so what do they do, keep ordering it. Children are forced to take the milk and other foods they do not want, because the FDA says so. Thus, too much food gets thrown away, and get this, last year we threw out approximately 15K bottles of milk. We have a large Hispanic population, and the school menu is not very weight and diabetes friendly. One particular 5th grade student weighs well over 200 lbs, and this student cannot even walk up one flight of stairs without stopping to catch a breath. The real problem lies with lack of proper monitoring the free lunch program. I could go on…..

  9. km October 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Mr. Boyle mentioned a large Hispanic population and a lot of milk thrown away. Is he–is anyone–aware of the connection? A large percentage of the population, ranging from about 10% of those of northern European ethnicity to the majority of non-Caucasions, develop a lactose intolerance shortly after infancy (if not before–my brother was lactose intolerant from day one). The symptoms range from severe stomach cramps and diarrhea to mild discomfort. Yet the schools insist on serving milk to these student, often provide no other thirst-quenching liquid besides sips of water from the drinking fountain on their way out of the lunchroom, and try to tell them they are wasting their parents’ money if they don’t drink it.

    More significantly, those with mild symptoms may never be diagnosed, so they drink the milk and sit in class with roiling stomachs or stuffy noses, trying to concentrate and not understanding why their classmates all seem so much more focused and energetic than they. And the teacher simply decides they are not paying attention or are restless.

    My own school lunch horror story dates back to the days when the schools were dumping grounds for surplus food, including butter. The school extended the peanut butter by mixing it with butter, spread butter liberally on every sandwich served (including hamburger buns and peanut butter sandwiches), and then spread a thin helping of peanut butter that stopped a good 1/4-inch from the edge of the bread. And the principal, until the parents stopped him, decreed that no one left the table until every scrap of food on every tray was eaten.

  10. Tricia November 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    We took your advice and ate with our son on National Take your Parents to Lunch Day. The lunch itself was not bad (chili, grilled cheese, salad, and cinnamon apples), but the reception we got at the school itself was troubling. When we arrived, we announced that it was National School Lunch week, Take your Parents to Lunch Day. We were met with stares. This shocked me because it was written on the school menu (National School Lunch Week). We then went into the cafeteria where none of the lunch ladies were aware of this fact either (they don’t look at the menu?). I was surprised that no one had informed the staff or cafeteria personnel.

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