Day 9: Pizza

Today’s menu: Pepperoni pizza, milk, baby carrots, multi-grain apple mini-crisps, fruit cup.
Our first repeat meal! I strongly dislike the pizza so for me this one was a rough. I got excited by the “mini-crisps” because I thought they might be dehydrated apple slices, but unfortunately they were rice cake-like disks.
I liked the baby carrots, but I asked one of my students if he ate them and he told me, “No.”
The fruit cup was partially frozen. I did attempt to eat it.
NOTE: The second picture is a decent shot of the mini rice cakes. Also you can see the pizza in the background. It’s got a glassy film on top, which is called cheese. The cheese has separated into two layers, the “saran*wrap” layer and then the under layer. Yum.
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35 thoughts on “Day 9: Pizza

  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    I have to tell you – You are going to make a bigger impact with this blog than you probably realize. It is such a great awareness that you are bringing to the public about what school lunches look like.

    I'll be here following!

  2. Good on you for bringing this issue to light. I've sent your site to a bunch of foodie and teacher friends.

    I'm in the early stages of organizing to get the lunches in our school district improved, and I've got to say that what you are being served looks an order of magnitude (maybe 2!) worse than what our schools have. Yikes.

  3. I ate school lunches for the first two months of the school year. I tried to choose the healthiest things that were on offer, yet I still gained 8 pounds during that stretch.

    Good luck in your efforts.

  4. This reminds me so much of "Super Size Me," but the school-lunch issue is soooooo much more important than the fast-food issue. Most of the people who eat fast food every day are choosing to do so, and can make healthier choices for themselves if they have motivation to do so. But schoolchildren who rely on school lunches (especially those kids who are on free- and reduced-lunch programs, and for whom school food is their primary source of nutrition) have no choice in the matter, nor do their parents if money is tight. I hope that your health doesn't suffer too much (like Morgan Spurlock's did after eating McDonalds's for a month)–and I thank you for taking on this very important experiment. When my son started Kindergarten at a public school this year, I asked his teacher what she thought of school lunches. She said that she had been teaching in the public school system for 20 years and had never, not once, eaten school lunch. Needless to say, my son has not done so either.

  5. You have more guts than I do. I keep asking my kids if they want me to pack them lunches instead of their buying "hot lunch". They insist NO. I don't get it. I went to the school's holiday lunch last Nov. and tried to eat the turkey. All I could stomach was the mashed potatoes. My son didn't even get the "turkey" dinner; he ate some sort of pre-fabricated PB&J. That looked gross too. Why do they want school lunch?

  6. This is fabulous! However, I worry about your health and such. Since you are very much on the ground, I wonder how the staff and administration at the school are reacting to your project. I kind of feel for 'em because the quality of the food is getting so much attention and yet they only have 2 bucks to work with for every meal.
    I'm posting a link to Fed Up With School Lunch on my blogroll. Best of luck to you.

  7. I LOVE that you're doing this. I hope it brings much awareness to how terrible the public school lunch programs are. A handful of companies are trying to make a difference. In our area, it's a company called Wholesome Tummies. But, they're having a hard time getting into public schools 🙁

    Looking forward to following your journey!

  8. My one comment for this whole project is… are you doing tradesies? That was the best part of school lunch. One piece of pizza for your zabra cake…

  9. I'm scared for you! I am a former high school teacher turned Holistic Health Counselor in part because of the "food" served at schools. My last year teaching (3 years ago), I made time for breakfast every day (usually a smoothie), I quit eating anything from the food circus and brought my own lunch. This single act improved not only my physical health, but my mental health as well. I beg you to draw a line in the sand for yourself…when you will not longer accept the consequences of eating such terrible food. Pay careful attention to not only how much extra food you eat/crave because of the empty calories (and probably weight gain) but your mood and behavior and energy levels. Have others gauge your attitude for you. Family and friends will often see the difference before you. What you are recording here is justification for dramatically changing the "food" served to our growing children. If you feel terrible, imagine how kids feel, whose bodies are smaller, yet still consume proportionately the same amount of crap…so their toxic burden and nutritional deficiency is much higher than that of an adult. In my new career, I'm writing a series of children's books geared toward elementary kids to try to encourage healthier eating choices.
    Improving food is not only a health need it is a moral imperative. For the sake of our children's brains as well as their bodies.

  10. I just found your blog through Marion Nestle's site and am so glad you're doing this. The school lunch issue horrifies me, and I think more people need to be educated about how bad it really is. Thanks for sharing your experiment, and good luck! Let us know when you're ready for detox recipes!

  11. I found this through Marion Nestle's blog as well. I'm glad someone is finally documenting this, I wish you lots of luck in keeping it up! It's too bad you can't document the nutritional info also, it'd be interesting/probably scary to see the hard numbers behind it all.

  12. Bravo you are a brave teacher! When my daughter was in elementary school in Chicago I packed her lunch every day because I was actually appalled at what they served. Not only was the lunch disgusting, often had curdled milk, they didn't even use plates…just threw the food on a tray, no napkins & it was gross! It has to be less expensive to really prepare edible food that is fresh and nourishing! Unfortunately, I see the same syndrome in super markets with parents who use LINK cards or shop on public aid. Their carts are full of prepared items high in sodium, fat & sugar, i.e., frozen pizza puffs, ramen noodles, sugary cereals, kool-aid. You hardly ever see whole chickens, flour, rice, fresh veggies…no one knows how to cook! If the states required public aid recipients to take cooking classes at city colleges we could raise disadvantaged children with higher expectations at the dining table! The schools are feeding many of these children similarly to the way they eat at home. We need to do better by our children & this is further proof that their education continues at the close of the school day!!!

  13. I am also shocked at the amount of packaging. Everything looks like it just came out of the microwave. Can you tell us what if anything is re-used from the lunch service? I can't tell whether the lunch tray itself is styrofoam from the photos.

    Thanks for sharing this — it's very eye opening.

  14. This is horrifying, fascinating and so very, very important! A great deal of my blogging time is spent documenting what I feed my kids for lunch, so this is an issue close to my heart. We are not yet in the school lunch program but it will become part of our lives next year. I'm so grateful that I have the choice to send healthy lunches to school with my children — especially when I see the foods that you are eating here. I can't wait to see what this year is going to bring for you. Good luck!

  15. Just read the two comments above mine and I'm curious if your school has a kitchen? My son's school doesn't have the facilities to cook anything on site, so all of the meals there are heated elsewhere and brought in on trucks.

  16. I admire your experiment and will follow with interests the results.

    One question – do they only offer chocolate milk at lunch? It would seem to be a healthier choice to get regular milk if they have it, less sugar at least.

  17. What a great idea! I pulled your blog up with two teen girls in my kitchen who were both quite pleased that an adult has the gumption to actually eat school lunch in the service of raising awareness. Their lunches are abominable and they send their gratitude, brave soul!

  18. Fantastic idea for a blog – hopefully it will draw some attention to this issue in a positive way! Just a note – totally not trying to be critical here, just want to help – in the blog subtitle and description, it should actually be "every day" rather than "everyday."

  19. This is a fantastic idea, and I'm glad that you're doing this. It's an absolute travesty that the government of the US subsidizes corn and soy, which in turn makes garbage like these lunches artificially cheap. Cheap corn and soy are fed to cattle, et al, leading to cheaper prices for feed-lot beef and stuff like soda. So basically, fast food, and all the garbage that they're feeding kids in these lunches. Terrible and depressing, if you ask me…Why not subsidize "real" food? Like fruit and vegetables?

    Anyways, not sure if you've read them, but it's well worth checking out the books "Fast Food Nation," "The Omnivore's Dilemna," and "An Eater's Manifesto" if you haven't already.

  20. I'm extremely disturbed to see what kids in America are eating for lunch. And people wonder why there is a problem with childhood obesity and diabetes? From a woman who doesn't even have children herself, I have to say this is really upsetting.

  21. My school does have a kitchen and lunch ladies, who are great. The packaging is such a waste!

    The trays are the only things that are getting washed in the kitchen that I can see. They keep handing me a styrofoam tray so that I don't have to return the hard plastic tray back to the lunchroom, but I'm going to insist on the washable tray from now on.

    They offer chocolate and white milk.

    And thanks for the grammar tip — I should be ashamed of myself!

  22. Over here in the UK we have a chap called Jamie Oliver who did a similar thing down in London, he got a lot of people to think about what their child eats at lunch time. Most parents responded positivly however there was a minority that tried to rebel!
    Here in teh UK a lot of schools have kitchens and the food is all freshly prepared, if it's made elsewhere it is made as a big batch and served from big metal trays, that are wached and reused.
    It's interecting to see how other schools, in other countries serve food

  23. I have some fond memories of the pizza they gave us back in the early 80's.

    Honestly suprised to see so many haters here. :/

    I would take that pizza over a squashed pb&j anyday of the week!!! 🙂

  24. Watch out for the baby carrots. They make great projectiles. I teach middle school in an urban district and most food fights start with baby carrots.

  25. Thank you for sharing this!
    I eat twice a week in the cafeteria with my boys. Our local school (in Idaho) has much healthier food than this. Everything you post pictures of looks like processed crap that is in microwave containers. Our school lunches are made fresh every day and they offer a full salad bar daily. All for the low price of $1.92.
    If our lunch program served this in our cafeteria, my kids would totally be brown-bagging it!

  26. Now I feel slightly spoiled by my school lunches from years past. I went to a public high school, and there was generally at least one hot option per day, but also a deli line (sandwiches, bagels), and a salad bar (not extensive by any means, but you could get a salad no less). Not that it was overly fantastic cuisine, but it seemed you could have a bit more control over what exactly you were putting into your stomach everyday.

    My elementary school experience was quite different as well, as I went to a Catholic School. The woman in charge of our cafeteria definitely had a good deal of influence on the menu and was able to add in special days, even though budgets and such made for a lot of the typical lunches (you know, pizza, chicken patties, etc.). There was an option to get the hot lunch, or bring a bagged lunch that I believe we had to submit our "lunch order" for the month ahead of time, but if you forgot your lunch or the like, they were very accommodating and never would let a child go hungry.
    We had the choice of regular milk or chocolate. I've never liked drinking milk, but could get through the chocolate ok, though in probably 5th or 6th grade I started bringing my own juice box.
    I have fond memories of the salad, which was served with pizza every friday — it was tossed in a homemade oil&vinegar/italian style dressing. Also, there were always cut veggies and cheese blocks you could get with every meal! Looking back, we definitely had it much better than so many of the children in school systems such as yours today.

  27. Wonderful project, thank you! I'm not sure I would eat the food, though, ugh. How can they not seem to thaw the fruit cups etc.–no cooking, just thaw?

  28. in high school we used to take a handful of napkins to blot the layer of grease off of the pizza, it was disgusting. I can't believe we ate that stuff.
    this is so very interesting.
    I have a 3 year old, so it won't be long before she starts pre-school- kindergarten, I will definitely be packing her lunch. thanks for doing this, you are a crazy :), but very strong for doing such a project, your intentions are very important. I hope it spurs lots of actions.

  29. I mentioned the “cheese effect” in my graduation speech! I’m not the only one who has noticed this lol

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