Day 19: chili

Today’s menu: chili, green beans, tortilla chips, orange, milk

Yeah for something new.  The chili wasn’t bad: there were beans in it too. The green beans were in a “buttery” sauce (see second picture). I didn’t have time to eat the orange. Nutritionally this lunch was better than so many and seemed balanced to me (I’m not a professional).

Vegetarian chili was an option today as well. It was distinguished from the regular chili because it had some cheese on top.

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16 thoughts on “Day 19: chili

  1. You might want to check (if you can) that buttery sauce on the beans. If may have been butter flavor and color in who knows what kind of cheap oil like substance.

    Years ago I worked in a nursing home kitchen. "Butter" poured out of 3 gallon jugs. Though, with subsidies, this may really be butter. I don't know.

  2. What I find alarming is that the protein and carbohydrate portions are so much larger than the fruit and vegetables. When you consider that dietary guidelines say that half of a meal should be veg, a quarter protein and a quarter carb, it seems like things aren't very balanced. One unappteising vegetable (that it seems the kids aren't even eating) covered in grease still doesn't seem like a good option to me. But at least I don't feel unwell looking at this one, unlike that cheese sandwich… 😉

  3. sounds good…
    I am a teacher in a tiny rural district in California that does not have a school lunch program. I am forced to bring my lunch, because there are no restaurant nearby either… so I make a week's worth of lunches. This week is burrito, green enchilada sauce, cheese, broccoli casserole (baked at 350 for an hour and a half). I pack my lunches in plastic boxes that I bring back and wash. Our school is striving to be a no-litter campus, so we pack out what we pack in… I have enjoyed reading your blog because I have worked in quite a few schools in my 25 years of teaching and some of them have had really good cafeterias and some of them have been really bad or even mediocre.

  4. how fabulous! and effective–gets the point across without a lot of sturm and drang (or air-brushed pictures of children holding freshly harvested broccoli. –because how many schools *can* Alice Waters personally oversee, yes?)

    I think our worst growing up was the "spaghetti" with gravel sized chunks of barbecued pork. served with an ice-cream scoop. second place to the partially raw baked chicken with the blue veins in.

  5. Mrs. Q – Thank you for your work to bring attention to school nutrition issues. Whether anonymous or in person, I strongly encourage you to contact your school district to express your concerns about the meals served. As the school nutrition director for Dallas Independent School District, I know how important student and teacher feedback and parental involvement is to improving school meals programs. School food service directors welcome involvement in our children's school meal programs and appreciate ideas to assure that our children have healthy and enjoyable meals in their school cafeteria.

    I have seen school nutrition programs nationwide that have show tremendous creativity and innovation in developing healthy, enticing school meals. Many schools are getting the community involved through taste tests, recipe contests, school gardens and farm to school programs, and have been experimenting with ethnic, vegetarian and locally grown menu choices.

    As Congress reauthorizes the Child Nutrition Act this spring, your readers can encourage legislators to provide more funds for a greater variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in school meals.

    Dora Rivas, RD, SNS – School Nutrition Association President

  6. Thanks for doing this blog– it's an eye opener. And it's made me realize that, as bad as my school lunches were 30 years ago, at least they weren't individually wrapped in plastic!

    I was wondering about the milk the cafeteria is serving– in most the pictures, you have chocolate milk. Is plain milk available? I hated chocolate milk as a kid (and still do) and would never have had any milk at all, if chocolate were the only option. And is the milk whole or skim or somewhere inbetween? It's too much to hope that it would be organic (alas)…

  7. Hi Mrs. Q – I just heard about your blog and commitment to eat school lunch every day in 2010. I plan to follow your journey from here on out. Waiting for the day you eat Italian Dunkers – my favorite lunch when I was a kid, though horribly unhealthy.

    I work with the Organic Trade Association and we fully support the need for healthier school lunch options. In fact, right now we're running a contest to give away an organic garden or organic vending machine to the school that generates the most newsletter sign ups at It'd be great to have you participate in the contest and encourage your school to do the same. Hopefully your school is the lucky winner!

    Best of luck on your journey. I will be sure to share the blog with others in our network, too.

  8. My gag reflex was set off several times by pictures of pizza cheese, but this bean sauce really is making me ill.

    Reading through your posts, I can't get over how much food just physically is impossible to eat, like the half-frozen fruit.

    I would encourage you to keep exploring and learning about nutrition yourself, and broadening your horizons. Many of us have ideas about what nutritious food should be, like fruit, whole grains and yogurt, when the facts might be something else entirely.

  9. Mrs.Q,

    I,too,would like to thank-you for your effort in bringing public attention to the school lunch program. As a Child Nutrition Director in California, I would encourage you and other bloggers–as Dora Rivas has through her insightful post,to contact your local school district Nutrition Director and your State Nutrition Association to become an active partner and advocate for these very important meal programs.

    Moreover,in the next 4 to 6 weeks, our elected officals in Washington will be reviewing funding again for meal programs… and funding is what we need.

    Please contact all of the representatives in your local area to support and fully fund the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization. This is an issue of priorities and nothing is more important than the health and welfare of our students. Please, join us for school lunch!

    Brenda Lightfoot-Handy,MA
    President-Central CA Chapter,
    California School Nutrition Association

  10. I just discovered your blog, Mrs Q, & I have a question. As part of your project, have you had some baseline blood panels done so you may compare the results after eating these school lunches on a daily basis for an entire year? Personally, I would be very concerned about the adverse impact on my own health. I would worry about the preponderance of industrial seed oils that are very high in Omega-6 fatty acids that are used in place of healthful natural fats. I would want to avoid the high carbohydrate load & the food additives. I would not worry about the "lack of fiber" or "excess salt".
    May I suggest that you also do some research into just what makes up a healthful diet so you have some real knowledge with which to arm yourself. It is not what the USDA, the AHA or the ADA say we should be eating. An excellent place to start is with Gary Taubes' "Good Calories, Bad Calories".
    To your health, 9ah

  11. hey,

    i found your blog through just wanted to say thank you for doing this – it's a very important and worthwhile project. Keep up the good work!

    and yes, i have to echo other commenters and say that i really had no idea how awful, overly processed and needlessly packaged this supposed "food" we are feeding our kids is. yeuch!

  12. I like following your post. I just found out something yesterday about HFCS being in infant formula. I posted about it today. Our kids seemed to be conditioned from infancy for this stuff.

    Education and awareness is necessary. I wish I knew what else I could do.

  13. Thanks to all who commented. I would love to have a conversation with the nutrition director in my district. I do need to get "schooled" on nutrition.

  14. My thought is you are not nearly as critical as you should be about these lunches. The color of this chili just looks bad, the meatballs looked equally yucky, and the congealed cheese on the hamburger was just gross. I really and truly hope these things taste better than they look.

    – John

  15. Yet another lunch loaded with fat, MSG, and artificial chemicals of all kinds. I am thinking that vacinations are the least of our problems. 40 years from now I think these childrens bodies will be reaping the rewards of these lunches.

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