Gotta Go And Get Our Advocacy Back On #SaveSchoolLunch

2010-03-09 12.45.17

Blast from the past: School lunch photo from 2010 from a reader

If you have a moment, would you mind signing a petition? Some members of Congress are attempting to roll back the updated nutrition standards we fought so hard for several years ago.

I’m not sure why this is coming up now. All I know is that more than ever our country needs intact laws to protect our children’s health and wellness at school. I mean, we have only really gotten started changing school lunch and, from what I still see at some schools, we have a long way to go.

If you want some additional information, check out The Lunch Tray’s write-up or what Jamie Oliver has up on his site. Or you can go directly to the petition.

We need Congress to know we are paying attention and we cannot afford to go backward!

5 Food Blogs You Should Be Reading

I have become only an occasional blogger, but I still avidly read blogs. I don’t click around to read them, but instead I get them via RSS, which is quick and efficient. I used Google Reader, but it was shut down. Luckily, I switched my RSS subscriptions over to Feedly. I highly recommend their RSS reader.

What makes a good blog? It starts with a story. I’m a sucker for a good one. Here’s who you should go visit right now:

slowcook1) The Slow Cook

Back in the thick of school lunch reform, I met a fellow reformer in Washington DC, Ed Bruske. Ed is a serious journalist and spent several turns in school kitchens getting the real scoop from lunch ladies. Ultimately, he changed focus from school food reform and instead taught cooking to kids in DC. Like me, we found that entrenched interests in school food made large scale change challenging — and exhausting work for private citizens trying to live life and raise a family.

I kept following his blog as it went into semi-hibernation as he shared occasional posts and recipes related to his work teaching kids to cook.

About a year ago, Ed bought a farm and moved his family to upstate New York. Over the past year he has detailed his progress as a farmer. I should say he’s no spring chicken (Sorry Ed!) — he’s part retired, part career changer. Reading what he has gone through has disabused me of my “farming fantasies.” I think many of us think going into farming is some kind of pastoral heaven. Not so!

I have loved reading along with his misadventures and I expect there will be more interesting stuff as he blogs his life as a farmer!


2) Appetite

Penny de Los Santos is one of those people you meet who draws you in. I met her at a blogging conference. She’s caring and gregarious — and has an amazing perspective as a food photographer that she shares on her blog. She works for Saveur and National Geographic, among other national publications.

There’s an immediacy in her photos that makes me feel like I’m there with her. I like how many of them have a dark feeling, too. One of the best parts of her blog is the large quantity of thoughtful images paired with few words. Her photography speaks for itself.

Again, her blog went through a fallow period where she didn’t share very much at all. And then all of a sudden she started sharing lots of images all the time.

She just went to Italy, a place I’ve never been. Then she flew to Kentucky. For me, her blog is pure escapism.


3) Hey What’s For Dinner Mom

I met Laura at a food blogging conference and she’s a force to be reckoned with. I love her big laugh. Coming from Alaska, I imagine you would have to be pretty strong and sure of yourself to manage. She’s also the mother of three boys. Seeing that I’m struggling with just two boys, I can’t even imagine what I would do with three!

I love her creative recipes. She’s so thoughtful. Laura also went through a paleo phase, which was interesting to watch being that I’m gluten free. I think she’s back on wheat, but I love that she plays with food.

Additionally, she blogs about living frugally and their kitchen remodeling, which I think is pretty much finished now. You know, I just like how she thinks.


4) 5 Second Rule

I shared a cab with Cheryl Sternman Rule back in 2010 when I went to a food blogging conference. I doubt she remembers it, but that was the moment that I heard about her blog and began following along. She has written a book since then entitled Ripe (I don’t own it, but I gave it as a gift to a close friend).

Her blog shares recipes with stories. Stories that make you think. Stories where she shares something humble about living life. It’s obvious she’s insanely talented, but she would never brag. She’s an observer of life. She took a trip to Israel and I thought it was interesting how she described it through food and stories.


5) 100 Days of Real Food

I met Lisa at a blogging conference before her blog blew up. She came up to me and introduced herself and now I consider her a personal friend. I guess that makes me biased, but I really love what she does. Her blog has just exploded over the past few years. I mean, it has gone viral several times over. I think it’s because of her Facebook page, which I find to be so real and honest. She’s herself, which is why so many people respond to her.

Lisa has a book coming out and it’s going to be huge. The book is going to launch her into the stratosphere and I’m so happy I get to watch it!

Working Mother Survival Recipes


Having a second kid has been a challenge in so many ways. Before Daniel was born, I had been able to do a lot of meal planning. Once a week I cooked new and different meals for my family, even as a working mom. My oldest was four and easily entertained before dinner. Sometimes he even “helped.” Life was free and easy back then.

Fast forward to life with a 5.5 year old and a 17 month old. The littlest is now climbing tables and chairs and then standing there, threatening to dive head first onto the floor. When am I suppose to make dinner? Either I give him a snack or I sit him down in his chair and feed him dinner as it comes off the skillet. No more family dinners. Dinner is divided into Daniel’s dinner time with one parent and then Charlie’s dinner time with the other parent. I know this will pass, but now it’s rough.

Even though I don’t have the time or energy to plan out meals or even cook something elaborate, this is the time when I feel like I need to be introducing a variety of foods to little Daniel.

It’s hard to throw something together all the time and still have it be fresh and delicious. I’ve started writing down a list of my go-to meals. All are able to be made when you have no childcare and you have to get dinner going. I really want to help moms like me who are struggling with young children at meal times.

I’m going to write up the recipes I have been relying on and that are in my head as well as the meal plans for two weeks of my creations. This could take me awhile since everything takes me extra time these days, but I’m going to get it all together. I’m doing this as much for myself as for you. I need to formalize my favorite recipes and then keep them nearby. Stay tuned.

Is School Lunch a Right or a Privilege?


To make change in the world of school lunch reform, it’s critical to investigate how we think and view the idea of school lunch at its core.

Do kids deserve to have a lunch break while they are at school? Yes, I think we can agree that all kids should get a break in the middle of the day to eat something.

What if the kids don’t have money to pay for lunch? Should meals be offered by the school? Yes, the school should provide a meal to students who lack the ability to pay for lunch. If you struggle with this question, think about if less fortunate students didn’t get any lunch. They would not be able to learn on empty stomachs. Like I’ve mentioned in the past, most students that I work with are members of families that experience food insecurity. The school actually provides their best meal of the day.

Let’s examine the difference between the words “right” and “privilege.”

A right is “a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.”

A privilege is “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.”

My answers reveal that I think school lunch is a right and the definition of privilege includes the word “right.” CASE CLOSED: school lunch is a right and privilege.


Is Education a Right or a Privilege? What Your Answer Says about You


“A Right or a Privilege?” — a new monthly series on Fed Up With Lunch starts now…

Awhile back I watched a little bit of a TV program on PBS that compared high school students in the United States to high school students in India. All I caught was the part where the students discussed what they did on Saturday mornings. While many American high school students sleep in, Indian high school students attend four-hour-long mathematics tutoring sessions starting at 7:30 am. On what was supposed to be a typical Saturday morning, I watched as a high school boy got up late and hung out, while a young Indian girl sat in a study group to prepare her for advanced mathematics. If she didn’t pass the test, she wouldn’t be able to achieve the next level. My impression was that her future hung in the balance. At least that was how her face looked. The American kid was laughing and sitting in his room.

That clip comes to mind when I see students here in the US not taking full advantage of the education laid out in front of them. In the US there is a spot for you if you work at it, but in other parts of the world, there is no spot for you if you don’t work for it — and even if you work very hard, you might not make it.

That clip comes to mind when I see parents receiving their “rights” or the procedural safeguards before an IEP meeting is conducted for their student. If you have ever read the parent rights, you know that parents are in the driver’s seat. By the way, I wish more parents read their rights and advocated for their children’s education.

That clip comes to mind when I asked my husband if he thought education was a human right or a privilege. He thought that education is a privilege. Keep in mind that his viewpoint as a Chinese-American is most likely viewed through a similar cultural lense as the students from India.


I view education as a basic human right. I’m going to bet that most Americans view it that way, too. Our culture is built upon the belief that education is the key to success in life. I completely agree with that, though I wonder if turning education into a right has changed the way people value it. I’m concerned that education is being taken for granted.

I see parents getting unprecedented rights and access to their children’s education. Working with children who have special needs, I believe this is fantastic. Plus with a kid starting kindergarten in seven months, I’m excited to get involved on the other side as a parent. I believe the direction of education and teachers’ roles will be shaped by parents. That’s where the trend lines are going. This could be good or bad, but I’ve noticed that parents really do make things better. When parents advocate, things get better for their kiddos.

You know what I’d really like to see? I’d like to see more American kids get invested in their own educations. It’s hard to get some kids to understand how important and valuable school is to their lives. Education is a right AND a privilege.

What do you think?

My new website is almost ready. I’m going to launch it with a giveaway. Stay tuned! Like Fed Up With Lunch on Facebook or me on Twitter @sarahburnswu to keep tabs on me.