Health concerns and less crap

Call me crazy, but I’m not worried about my health. The other meals I eat during the average day are healthy. I have the money to make good meals for my family that are from fresh and frozen ingredients, many organic. So I actually think it’s funny that people are concerned about me. Thank you, I’m doing fine (and it’s only day 10).

Also I really don’t have lofty goals for my cash-strapped district’s limited resources. I simply want school administration to be more reflective about what they are serving the children they don’t want to fall “behind” (NCLB inside joke). I mean, would it hurt the district’s meal planners to offer the occasional yogurt to the kids?

I want less pre-fab food and higher quality options. Less crap, you know?

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23 thoughts on “Health concerns and less crap

  1. As you are going though the year I'd be interested in hearing about artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives in any of the foods you have to eat. There's lots of research about them out there causing health and behavior problems with kids. Interested in whether your school district has been successful in dialing these back or out completely.

  2. Love what you're exposing and hope it leads to change. I cook for a fraternity at the U. of Washington in Seattle and am challenging the notion that "institutional" food has to be crap. It's sad that a reporter came to do a story on what I'm doing because it's so radical: I'm cooking real, healthy food for college kids. Look forward to seeing what you accomplish with this.

  3. Are you going to document, if even personally and not share the exact numbers, any changes in your health? Weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels? That would be interesting.

  4. As a former teacher and now green business owner, I LOVE this blog! I will encourage everyone I know to follow it.

    Thank you!

  5. Hi, I read your blog and thought you might be interested in this sight which also has a good part devoted to school lunches.

    (It's from the website )

    Follow the powerpoint presentation and their are alot more links to more information.

    Good luck on your journey. I am also a public school teacher. I give you credit for trying the food you're eating. Our cafeteria food is never in little packaged containers like your own, but I know they contain lots of artifical sweetners, preservatives, flavors, colors, ect… which really don't make the food better.

    Again, good luck!

    Mary, in Ohio

  6. I hope you survive this year. haha! I know you will.

    I am pretty excited that you are taking this task upon yourself. The nutrition in the food presented to not only school children, but also to the general public in government assisted programs is and has been lacking for quite a while. The age of children eating these meals can be crucial to the development of their minds. Government subsidies is unfortunately one reason why you will notice perhaps a specific over abundance of certain food products.

    Anyhow, I just wanted to tell you that I'm glad you are doing this. Also, you may like to check out Janet Poppendieck.

  7. just came across this….will be sure to check back.

    taking on American school food….brave you! i'm always shocked by the difference between the meals we feed children in France (not great, but healthy) & what passes for food in American schools (ketchup as a vegetable?).

    Bon courage!

  8. are there other lunch options? the only reason that i ask is that i am lactose intollerant, and can't help but look at the lunch options thinking "well, i would only be able to handle the 'apple' crisps and the bread" (which is, clearly, a less than balanced diet option)

    since lactose intollerance is often passed along to a child, i worry even more for my kids!

  9. To stardancer – This is all there is. I haven't seen them, but I'm told that for the kids that don't eat meat due to religious reasons, there is one meatless choice. For kids with lactose and other undiagnosed allergies, they just have to suffer through it. There are kids that bring their lunches from home though. I'm thrilled when I see that actually!

    As far as documenting my own weight, etc. Well, I can tell you I still have 8 lbs of pregnancy weight to lose. I'd really like to lose that weight, but I also love to eat. And I love to cook. So it really wouldn't be fair for me to document my weight because it will fluctuate based on what I eat outside of school hours. In this experiment, I can't control for the rest of my diet! šŸ™‚

  10. You are incredibly brave for taking this on. What are the demographics of your school? At my school, over 95% of kids qualify for free lunch and all but a handful are black. Think about obesity in this country and how if affects the poor and people of color and you can't help but think this can't be a coincidence…I know you're only doing lunches but some kids eat breakfast AND lunch at school and may not have very much food security at home. I hope districts start doing a better job feeding our kids šŸ™‚

  11. you are truly a saint school lunch which I ate until about 9th – after that I was very selective about what I ate from the lunc lne. why is everything in a strange sauce?

  12. I find it amusing that people are concerned about what you're eating, yet the district is feeding this to thousands of kids. Why is this ok for the children but not considered healthy enough for the faculty?

    I am very excited to continue reading your blog! Thank you for bringing awareness to this frequently overlooked issue!

  13. This comes down to what most things do in education: money. We're unwilling to spend what it costs to provide the resources our kids need, even for a decent lunch.

    I count myself very fortunate to work at an independent school that provides healthy, delicious, organic lunches as a part of tuition. I believe the cost is about $6 per person–double the $3 you mention, but it's ten times the quality of what they're feeding you (and most American kids.) It's the difference between a piece of factory-packaged pizza and all-you-can-eat fresh-made pizza with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese.

    The company that does our lunch is Acre Gourmet and though they are a small outfit in California, they have links to information about getting local food into schools, and would be happy to talk, I'm sure. Kids who eat healthy lunches learn better. I hope you'll be able to find an alternative to offer and get the school to make a change for the better.

  14. I am a Food Service Director for a School District in Illinois. My department does not have meals provided to them by a management company as does your school. We are in control of our own budget and therefore have the freedom to provide our students with healthier meals( within the National School Lunch Guidelines) and the ability to change things parents don't like. One way to change the types of meals you are provided is to have your school change to a self operated program. Find the right people to run your program who are interested in child nutrition and you will see what is possible. Management companies are in it for the money, not for the health of the children.

  15. I love this experiement! I think it's an interesting and absolutely necessary one.
    As far as the expense of more expensive lessons, I have a friend who is an RD and, as I am a student teacher, we have had many discussions about school lunches. According to her, there have been studies done about the cost of providing healthier, more well-rounded meals to students. The results: it costs no more to feed them healthy lunches than what they were currently being served. I am sure it would cost a lot to implement a new dietetic program, but I feel like the rewards would be priceless in all districts.

  16. I totally appreciate what you're doing, AND the fact that you realize that you are not going to be able to force your district into serving all organic, locally produced meals.

    Also, I'm at a school where we have our 1st graders sit through almost 2 hours of reading DIRECTLY after lunch. Seems stupid to me, especially as, like you said in one of your posts, the kids are expected to sit down and be quiet after eating a lunch that is not healthy, not low in sugar, not high in fiber, etc. How are they supposed to focus when they aren't given a healthy meal that gives them the energy they need?

  17. Five junky, salty, fatty, sugary HFCS small meals a week for an entire year is enough to affect cholesterol/triglycerides, blood pressure and insulin resistance for some people, kids included. Even if you don't want to post it, you should track your labs and health stats through the project for yourself.

    It was amusing to actually see a Rib-B-Q sandwich. Thanks for the project! Iā€™m looking forward to following it.

  18. So glad I found this blog. My students eat breakfast at school too… it scares me most mornings. Best of luck.

  19. Ew I hate yogurt and always have. If I were in 3rd grade and the lunch lady handed me yogurt it would go straight in the garbage…or I'd give it to a friend.

  20. Week 2 only milk and fresh fruit are edible so far. How can they get away with feeding this crap to anyone?

  21. I know I am 3 years too late but I have to say I stumbled across this while doing research for a paper I am writing on school lunches. I am a single mom with 5 kids and we do get the free lunch program at school. I agree even now there needs to be a change. I know in my kids school they don’t have a different choice besides milk unless they buy a juice. All 3 of my younger kids are lactose intolerant so I usually send a water bottle in to school with them and when we can afford to they bring their own lunch. Which I get yelled at for because we have very little and everyone says they get free breakfast and lunch why not use it. All three of my younger kids are overweight. I feed them as healthy as possible with what money we have. I just want to say this was a good thing for you to do to get the point across that there needs to be better food at school for the kids who sometimes this is their only meal. I will be happy when I have my degree and can let my kids take a healthy lunch every day. Until then I try as hard as possible to get as much healthy food as possible. Thank you for the blog it has also helped me out on my research.

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