19 thoughts on “No school today: interview time

  1. I just came across your blog today and I had to tell you how fantastic I think it is that someone from the inside is bringing this issue to light. Good luck!

  2. It is so brave of you to be doing this! Keep it up. The pictures and desciptions are fascinating. I hope some change happens because of your "under-cover" work!

  3. Stay anonymous and keep eating in your classroom so you can take pics without beign discovered! You can make it through the whole year without being discovered!

  4. i am new to your blog…i stumbled upon it from another blog.
    I might have missed this part…but is this food microwaved?
    my grandmother would roll over in her grave..she was a lunch lady and took pride in the delicious food she prepared each day for students.
    I am fascinated by this project of yours

  5. So it sounds like your school offers only one option every day, period, and too bad for kids with dietary restrictions?

    My elementary school offered peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, as an alternative to the daily rotating meal. As a vegetarian, I would have literally starved otherwise. I was on the free lunch (and breakfast) program, and bringing my own lunch was not an option, because my family could not afford it. I ate peanut and jelly every.single.day for both breakfast and lunch.

  6. wow. I don't begin to understand all the packets/extra plastic waste. we NEVER had that back in the 70's. I also got the menu and picked what day I would eat school food, what I remember definitely looked better than this stuff. I am so glad I am homeschooling!

  7. To be honest, while none of it looks appetizing, it does look nutritionally balanced for a child, assuming they consume it all. To me, though, you come across as arrogant and pithy.

    Stop looking at these lunches as if they SHOULD be from a fresh salad bar/restaurant and look at them for what they are: inexpensive meals designed for children. If you want better, pony up and pay the taxes, find sponsors, figure out a way to create, buy, serve and clean up ON A SCHOOL DISTRICT'S BUDGET a better meal.

    Better yet, show the pictures to your student's parents and see if they can do better.

  8. An earlier blogger hit the nail on the head…what the kids are eating…have you purveyed the trash can and see what kids throw out? While some kids will try a bite or two, I would bet to say that much of the food is not eaten, hence, they are really really hungry, and thin, and those that are overweight may often ask the ones who will not eat it for their portions…so it appears that the food is being eaten. But I would bet there is a lot of waste. To Lauri, I'm not sure better is the right quality Mrs. Q is trying to improve on necessarily. Healthy, higher quality food with better nutrition is what I think she is striving for with appealing meals for children. I don't understand all the packaging this school district uses. In our district, certain foods are prepackaged, but they are mostly cold,ones that can be prepared ahead of time, the hot foods are generally served on a tray without all that packaging. Also, something else you might find helpful in explaining your meals would be to investigate which of these foods are part of the National School Lunch Program which serves our nation's school cafeterias. Our state requires a certain amount of protein, carbs, and fat ratio based on the program. This is related to the free and reduced lunch program as well. Food for thought, eh? Also, does your cafeteria dietician create the menus or are they a from a commercially based enterprise? Our food was much better when we had lunch ladies decide. Now we have a company hired by our district, and while we still have the same lunch ladies, the quality of the food is different.

  9. I was so excited to come across your blog today. I am a teacher and the nutritional value of the meals that I see in our school lunches appalls me. I feel as though it is contributing to the childhood obesity problem that is happening here in the U.S. I am looking forward to seeing where this takes you and hope it can help make changes in our schools. Thanks for taking on the challenge! I will definitely be passing along your blog to others.

  10. Very interesting. I came to your blog from Andy's. I don't have children but I do care about what we as a society are feeding them.

  11. I, too, just found this blog today and I am working on reading all the back posts.

    Many of the comments I've seen reflect how little people understand of the school lunch program. For example, there is a meal pattern that schools must follow which sets the types of foods that are served. This impacts calorie levels, and it sounds like an equal number of readers think that the school lunches have too many, or too few, calories!

    Students with real food allergies and needs (a soft diet would be one) must be accommodated. No one would want to risk a serious allegic reaction. Usually religious restrictions are handled cheerfully, but likes and dislikes don't have to be.

    It is also very important to know that in many schools, it's the free lunch students who are subsidizing the paid students, NOT the other way around. The federal reimbursement rate for free student lunches is generally higher than the price that "full pay" kids pay in most schools.

  12. Just discovered your blog today and… WOW. I'm a school teacher and while our district isn't poor by any means, I didn't realize school food could look so unappetizing! While there are some products that come prepackaged (a la carte items) most of our food is decent. I think that may be because our school serves as a kitchen for the surrounding schools – we prepare the food en masse and deliver it to other schools who reheat. We produce our own food (so sometimes we get delicacies like enchiladas from one of our cafeteria chef's family recipes which a lot of people will swear are the best in town). I'm curious – can you put up a post that perhaps describes the process by which your vendor is selected, food is purchased, and how it is distributed/reheated? Are there schools in your district that prepare food from raw materials in house?

  13. Christy – The meals are heated/reheated in large ovens from what I can see.

    Lauri – I'm not brave. I'm not special. I'm not arrogant. I am one small person swimming up a very large stream. I would like to shed light on what I believe to be an important issue. My only objective is to have administration reflect on what they ask small children to put into their mouths every day. The question is "can we do better?" I don't have the answer to that question.

  14. As an elementary ed teacher I have seen it also. Yes, it can be better. Unfortunately,the schools have taken Federal dollars and must conform to those regulations that limit the food available and who it can be purchased from. Keep up the good fight.

  15. I have to say that the argument that the schools can't afford better food seems pretty flimsy to me!
    Some of the cheapest meals my husband and I eat are when we cook large batches of vegetable heavy soups and stews accompanied with some fresh bread.
    Making things from scratch – pizza crusts, chopping vegetables, cooking sauces – have always been the cheaper option for me when you look at the real price/volume. While it might be hard to balance batch sizes for the two of us so that things get eaten before going bad, this has to be easy for a school serving hundreds of kids!
    Think how much it costs to buy bulk flour, dried beans, lentils, and rices. NOT MUCH! Seasonal squashes are cheap/lbs. and stretch a long, long way. Lettuce as a base for salads cost nearly nothing!
    If it comes down to having to pay the lunch ladies/lads for longer hours to get made-from-stratch lunches down, just consider how many less hours they could pay for school nurses! Also, think how much could be saved by eliminating all that packaging! All those little plastic containers probably make up 25% of the cost of the lunch!

  16. I came by your blog a few days ago from SeriousEats.com

    You make me feel so lucky in high school to have eaten better food than kids today.
    This is a good thing you're doing bringing awareness to a growing childs lack of a healthy nuitrition in school. Keep it up!

  17. Anonymous – I find soup making to be one of the cheapest and easiest things I can serve my family. Soups are such a comfort food during the winter too. Maybe they worry about burning the kids with hot soup? Buying in bulk should be brought back.

  18. Anonymous — a lot of the problems with school lunches go back to agricultural policies and crop subsidies.

    The government subsidizes corn, wheat, and soy. The corn is fed to cattle, which in turn brings the price of beef down. Cheap corn also equals cheap corn syrup for sweet foods.

    Wheat is used to make white bread products. Soy is mainly used for soybean oil.

    Making things from scratch is often out of the question because, in order to get school lunch, schools have to abide by certain rules (ie: receive shipments of pre-made food).

    This is a problem with deep, deep roots.

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