Day 35: chili

Today’s menu: chili, carrots, fruit icee, cornbread muffin, and milk

I chose the vegetarian option today. Most of the kids got chicken nuggets. But it really doesn’t seem to matter what the main course is because the first thing the kids told me they ate at lunch was the “icee.” 

The chili looks worse in the picture than it was in real life. So I took a close up. The chili had a dark taste to it as if it were over-seasoned. In the picture it looks like poo. It was not poo!

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32 thoughts on “Day 35: chili

  1. I'm a vegetarian and I think I would've had to go with the chicken nuggets on this. Yuck.

  2. Just out of curiosity, did the chili at least smell like chili? (Does the food smell like food?)

  3. I thought the cornbread was the icee until I started wondering what that red cherry thing was and realized THAT was the icee. What a color!

  4. I guess that different computer screens must be showing things differently, because the cornbread muffin looks like every other cornbread muffin I've ever seen; certainly nothing "day-glo" about it on my computer. And I don't even understand Zahirah's comment about the color of the Icee. Unless there's some picture I'm missing, we can only see the wrapper of the Icee, not the Icee itself.

  5. Camera phone quality will not give that accurate of colours. Can't blame her though. Hard to be discreet with a point and shoot camera. Really not too bad either. I'm guess a 2mp one at least.

  6. Wow! That muffin just looks toxically neon. The packaging on all this food is amazing – makes you realize that none of it is…fresh.

  7. I went to a school not too far away from a nuclear plant. Near thanksgiving we would get turkey and sides, including "turkey" gravy. Talk about day-glo. We joked that the gravy was actually scrapings from the power plant. That muffin kinda reminds me of the gravy some. Although, compared to some of the meals I've seen here, this one doesn't look too bad.

  8. Where is this food "cooked"? Is it all microwaved together and then handed out? The portions are so tiny.

  9. I saw this new documentary that's coming out (called Lunch Line) and thought you'd be interested:

    Also, I'm convinced that if you did lose your job, you'd be hired by Michelle Obama personally! Please consider turning this project into a book.

  10. Agree that the color of the 'muffin' is way off. Actually I was reading the description trying to figure out why pineapple wasn't listed. It REALLY looked like pineapple chunks……As for the heating of the food I think the school has specialty 'equipment' provided by the vendor that heats the stuff in its pre-portioned individual containers. While it is definitely portion control (no 'eyeing' it) it definitely won't get this school a 'green' award any time soon….

  11. My kids went to a public 5-12 alternative school. The lunches came in styrofoam from a distant district kitchen and they were generally gross.

    The health teacher had a brainstorm and convinced the school district and the building principal to try an experiment: the teacher and a small group of students would make the lunches. He got the district to turn over the funds allotted to lunches for that school and proceeded to teach the kids about nutrition and cooking.

    At first they served simple sandwiches, soup, fruit, and salad. Over the next few months they got better and better, wonderful casseroles, homemade pizza, freshly baked bread and cookies, etc.

    They ended up spending way less than the allotted budget, so much less that the kids who made the lunches got a free wonderful trip at the end of the year. My son got a summer job in the kitchen of an upscale restaurant, then worked there on weekends during his senior year.

  12. The cornbread does look like a pineapple icey! The rest of the food looks horrible. The food served at my school doesn't look much better but, they do bake fresh bread, usually either rolls or cornbread.Yuck!

  13. When I saw the muffin pic I at first thought it was a pear in a cellophone wrapper.

    After a month or two of watching this "heated carboard" type of lunch I have to think the kids would be better served by boxed lunches that aren't warmed.

  14. it's weird how everything is prepackaged. I haven't had a legit school lunch in 5 years but when I did pretty much everything we were given was dished on a tray. Granted, it was probably still frozen/in a can/processed.

  15. I guess I'm in the minority, this doesn't look that bad to me. I work in a white collar office and inevitably we're all eating frozen meals, so this looks about like what we all eat everyday for lunch.

    If I wasn't allergic to beans, I'd eat it without a complaint. Well one complaint, I'd want an extra muffin instead of the icee 🙂

  16. HI Fed Up. I've commented a couple of times…but until today…I had NEVER (in all 3 years at my current school) eaten our school lunch. Until today. I ate it because it actually looked so good. I took a picture…anyway that I can send it to you? Or guest blog as you mentioned a few days ago???

  17. My nine year old son and I just discovered your blog today. We "picky eaters" (I am a former elementary teacher) are dying laughing at your posts. It makes me sad at the same time that many children do not have a choice but to eat these lunches. Continue on…..

  18. I would love to help you recruit more teachers in to helping you build this blog. I just started following you on twitter (I'm @nerdette). if you add me we can Direct Message.

    Keep up your excellent work!!! and THANK YOU for teaching!

  19. just came across your blog- what a great idea… i just blogged about it as well.

  20. Forgive my ignorance. I thought school lunch was still done like when I was in school in the 1980s. Back then it was cooked in large batches on the stovetop or in the oven. Yes, the veggies were canned and reheated. Yes, the pizza was frozen but it was heated in the oven. Tater Tots were frozen and heated in the stove.

    These meals look like TV dinners that are microwaved. I'm horrified as they would have even more preservatives and chemicals than that frozen stuff they sold when I was in school.

    Anyhow when I was in school I lived on chocolate milk and Grandma's chocolate chip cookies and candy sold as school fundraisers. I was as thin as a rail and ate McDonald's and Kraft Mac and Cheese, sugar soda and ice cream in large quantities after school. LOL

  21. The thing that freaks me out the most about this meal is the bubbles/froth in the carrots. I'm all about homemade lacto fermented veggies… I have LF carrots in my fridge. Bubbles/froth in a school lunch? Chemical suds, I'm sure!

  22. I wonder about the packaging, like another commenter. Where is this food made? (that may have been covered in the past, I'm a new reader). Glad the chili wasn't as bad as it looks. It is a bit disturbing that the kids mostly ate chicken nuggets. I wonder what was actually in the nuggets.

  23. This is a really neat experiment and quite the interesting blog.

    And to be fair about the icee – I remember as a student having to eat it first or throw it away once it melted into corn syrup sludge… at which point I refused to eat the icee ever again, frozen or not.

  24. So sad. Kudos to you for being so creative in your efforts to shine the light on this topic. For many children this is their only "real" meal that day and it's a sorry excuse for one.

    After graduating two children from high school (and now college)we have chosen to home school our two little ones. This is just another reason that I am happy to have them home with me.

    I can't wait to keep up with your progress.

  25. Wow, this is such a long overdue project! I'm really intrigued, I have skimmed over most of what you've been doing here the last few months and it is completely necessary to get the word out.
    I am 25 and ate hot lunch free at school everyday until middle school when we gained the snack bar. AT which point I started living off of Mr.Pibb, doritos, and soft pretzels with cheese. Which sadly, was probably healthier than what you are forcing down. I'm not sure how the schools here in Tucson are doing lunches now, but I remember being served what was called 'fish shapes' They were unidentifiable shapes that tasted like they had been dusted with cinnamon and sugar! Blech! To say the least. Well I found out my Auntie Barb worked as a head for the district planning lunches. I asked my mom if I could tell her how horrible these fishy things were and if she could make it so we never had to throw them away again. (What a concept, the kids were hungry and wanted something they could actually eat! As was said earlier in a post I read, the kids who are getting free lunches are getting them for a reason, the parents can't afford lunches, and sometimes dinner too. For some of us it was the only chance to eat a real meal) The kids NEVER ate them and it was such a waste. I will never know if Auntie Barb had anything to do with it, but I was in 2nd grade then and up until 5th, we never had those fish things again. It goes to show, if you get the right people involved, you can definitely make a difference.

    I'm sure if the worst happened, you would have 100 new opportunities coming to you from doing this alone. I'm excited to follow your process now I've found this. I'm really curious about what the DR. will tell you. It may explain all my horrible stomach problems as a kid that seemed to magically disappear when I was a teenager. Now I see we may have been making the wrong connection, it didn't go away because I had outgrown it, it went away because I was out of elementary and not stomaching hot lunch anymore!
    Keep up the good work!

  26. I have been a vegetarian for a year and a half. I'm in college and so i eat what their cafeterias provide. vegetarian food is ALWAYS overseasoned. its like the cooks believe that because there is no meat, they have to make up for it with a pound of spice. it's gross.

  27. I simply can not believe what the lunches look like at your school. Just the fact that they are served to you in those strange plastic covered paper trays, each item separate, is so weird. When I was in grade school you had a tray with different sections and they would serve each student their meal scooping out each item from their large dishes of cooked food. And we had some pretty good lunches. Very appetizing. I still wish I could go back there just to eat the school lunch or even get in line at the salad bar, which you were able to eat from once you hit third grade. What they serve there at your school is absolutely beyond belief.

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