Day 46: pizza


Today’s menu: pizza, carrots, fruit jello, pretzels, milk

I do believe that “french bread” pizza is brilliant. With thick crust it’s easy for the pizza to hold up during the trip to the school. Many readers have commented about their school pizza being soggy and greasy. This stuff has been perfected: it is not water-logged or dripping with grease. I mentioned before that I liked this pizza one time. Well, that has passed as I could only take a few bits this time. However, the crust is quite good actually. And I found the fruit jello to be fantastic! I loved the carrots too, but I didn’t eat the pretzels. Clearly my taste buds are joining the opposition one by one. Next thing you know I’ll be waking in the night craving chilled pineapple and peach fruit cups!
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41 thoughts on “Day 46: pizza

  1. I remember when I was in high school, the only thing I would really eat were the greasy cheeseburgers or the pizza. Occassionally, I'd try out the salad, but that usually wasn't like a salad at all, with the choppy, hard lettuce and little sustenance… but I remember liking the pizza, maybe because it was just tastier to me than any other alternative. In my school, though, they offered Dominoes pizza–I wonder if it's just a thing my state does, or if it's everywhere else as well?

    Hm..what are your takes on things like Lunchables?

  2. Don't feel betrayed by your taste buds. Fruit and sugary fruit concoctions are irresistible! As for the rest, like many of your readers, I just don't understand the over-packaged-ness of all of this food.

    I sat through my first and last episode of the Jamie Oliver school food project last night. While the food the lunch ladies serve was horribly over processed, it still resembled the cafeteria experience I recall as a child. As for Jamie Oliver…grow a pair…I just can't watch.

  3. This food was engineered to be liked so I won't blame you for liking some of it. It does make it all the more gruesome that companies are working not only to make food stuffs cheap but also very tasty and in the meantime using more and more poor products. Next you'll know they'll really sell sh*t and are capable of making it taste delicious.

    Seeing that European folks are doing the same as American (working, bringing the kids to school/football) it looks like it's more about changing the mindset of people, do you cook after all this? Are you just too tired? Or do you care about your family?

    To me it became a habit, I cook after work… yes, I don't like it sometimes but I find it more important that I eat healthy.

    A single divorced man from the Netherlands.

  4. The only thing I remember ever really enjoying as far as school lunch went was this taco seasoned beef filled tortilla that was deep fried and covered in nacho cheese. They called it a "Crispito," and I think a lot of the "enjoyment" really came from making fun of the name. Looking back now, I gag at the thought.

  5. My 7 year old says the pizza does not look good at all. She also called the chicken patty from a previous post "nasty looking".

    I send their lunch from home about 90 percent of the time.

  6. Mrs. Q, I just found your blog…can't remember who directed me, but it definitely makes my happy for my children's school lunches. Almost everything in our schools' cafeterias is homemade: rolls and buns, pizza, occasional desserts, jambalaya, beans/rice, chicken, fish, etc. I'm always proud of the cafeteria staff and what they provide; the students may even order a day in advance if they'd like a chef salad the next day. Anyway, enough bragging. 🙂 I have a question and apologize in advance if it's been asked and answered. Since you've begun this project, have you lost weight since many of the choices, if not most, are not appetizing?

  7. Pizza was one of the things I hated in the school cafeteria. I think they made it in sheet pans, because the pieces were square and you either had a great big crust handle, or no crust at all to pick up with. It always had sausage, too, which I stopped eating when I was 8 after I watched my great-grandma and her sister make it. And it was always served with corn. Weird.

    My kids' school district is carb-counting this year, so pizza and pretzels in the same meal would be a no-no. Last week when they had cheese pizza, they got green beans, apricots and milk with it.

  8. Mrs. Q I really hope you read this, because I really appriciate what you are doing here. I'm a 7th grader and fully understand how disgusting school lunch can be. I can't force myself to eat one school lunch a year, let alone every day! Thank you so much for drawing attention to this, because it is important. Once I had chicken nuggets for lunch and ick. There was NO chicken in those "chicken nuggets". More like " pepper and plastic nuggets" because thats all I tasted. So thank you again!!!!

  9. At least there are carrot sticks. I doubt if a lot of kids will eat them, but it makes me glad that they're available. The jello is deceptive…it seems more healthful than it really is. It's actually just full of sugar and preservatives.

    Like the last anonymous commenter, I was also grossed out by elementary school pizza and would never touch it. One weird reason is because it was square…and that just violated the pizza rulebook in my opinion. Another reason is that it just didn't taste like pizza at all. At least your pizza looks a little more appetizing, even if it's not really that healthful either.

  10. Just found your blog and love your idea! I find it so interesting what school lunches in other parts of the country are like. We have a pretty decent lunch system where we are but I still pack my kids lunches everyday. I just like knowing what they eat and where they're food comes from. Good luck in your endeavor!

  11. Just think – if your tastebuds can learn to like this kind of food, perhaps children's tastebuds can learn to like decent, healthy food.

  12. I suppose when you don't have anything else to eat, even the worst of food can seem pretty appetizing. I can't help but think of all the students who may only get this one meal a day…

  13. That meal looks pretty gross, but I do recall eating ice-cream, M&Ms, and Coke for lunch. Sometimes I would eat the burritos, but they were so greasy. I was, however, very active in high school. If I hadn't been, I would have been morbidly obese by the time I graduated!

  14. Wow! I just finished catching up with your blogs and most of the food they are serving looks unhealthy. When I was in elementary school my parents always packed me lunch except on pizza day. At my school pizza day was once a month and we got pizza at a reduced cost from papa johns, it was premade and the lunch ladies threw it in the oven, but at least it was real pizza. Also we ate off plastic trays and students were recruited to wash dishes, it was on a volunteer basis but you got a treat if you did it. We also had an hour and 20 minutes for lunch and a recess.

    With the obesity epidemic you would think schools would want to increase recess time in order to encourage activity. It sickens me the food we serve children and the changes that have been made to the school schedules that in some ways encourage obesity.

  15. This is an amazing project you are doing. Our society, especially our policy makers, need to realize what we are feeding our children. I am appalled by the packaged and processed food served in your school. My school lunches were disgusting, but at least they were cooked at the school. My parents made us get school lunch – taking a bagged lunch was allowed once a week. I hated school lunch. The worst was the mystery meat turkey dinner (meat bits in a cold gravy) served over green mashed potatoes.
    The pizza from today looks disgusting. The cheese looks like lacquer! And pretzels with the pizza seems like carb overload.

  16. I remember, as a student, my favorite foods in school (and i liked school food–though it may simply have been that i was at a disadvantage: my mother couldn't really cook, so we usually ate pre-packaged, boxed, or fast food) were the "sheet-pan" pizza–it violated the rules, but it was still yummy–the wrapped cheese-burgers, and the chili and cheese smothered 'burritos.' The Burritos were really chimichangas, but the school called them burritos. I could eat the steak-fingers, and the chicken fried steak, but i always stayed away from chicken. It wasn't until I moved in with my boyfriend, that i could really stand to eat non-KFC chicken or pork. Cooking it myself–it turned out–made a very big difference.

    I think that's the biggest problem with school lunches. They're all pre-packaged. I don't think it's very healthy, but what can the schools do about it? I'm sure it's cheaper, and many schools just can't afford to do it any other way.

    I feel that 'the food issue' is just one of several problems in our current school structures. I hate that schools are slowly phasing out 'non-education-specific' items like art, music, and even PE (so i've heard). Major changes need to be made to the entire structure and system, but it'd be very difficult to actually make them.

  17. Its all the MSG.. it fools the body and tastebuds soon you will crave that stuff.

    Your blog is brave and FANTASTIC!!

  18. I don't think it is possible for all the school districts (esp. poor ones) to serve yummy, nutritious meals. I teach in a school that's located in a "ghetto" area and unfortunately, they don't have enough money for paper, let alone homemade meals! Some people don't really understand what it's like in a poor neighborhood unless they've been/lived in one.

    My school would be ecstatic to have food like yours! The menu consists of pizza, burritos, grilled cheese, hotdogs, hamburgers, and that's pretty much it. I've been talking to the cafeteria staff and I asked them why the menu has no variety….They said that our district is "dirt poor". It really is sad because most of the students in my class are from low-income families. The whole country is in bad shape and I'm afraid we'll never come out of this massive hole we've been digging ourselves in.

  19. if you missed it….watch jamie olivers food revolution NOW. i hope some good change can come out of all this……i hate how ignorant the lunch ladies were being to him. hes such a brave man and inspiration to be. im a freshman studying nutrition and it kills be to see what people feed themselves. i want to change the future like jamie!

  20. The pizza at my high school is usually pretty bad (often burnt), but this is just revolting…it looks like glue. Blech.
    Today the pizza was actually really good– or so I thought, until I came here and read the blog that said that there are 62 ingredients in it. Now I don't ever want to touch the stuff again.
    I know you hear this a lot, but thank you so much for everything you've written, and for raising so much awareness about school lunches. I've seen a lot of the 'meals of the day' they serve at my school and it usually looks unedible, but the students who have 'free lunch' unfortunately have no choice but to gag down the mushy crap they call meat.
    I recall having their nachos once; the ground beef that came with it made me so sick…I threw up at least 3 times that night.
    I know our school doesn't get the best funds as we live in an area that is largely Hispanic, but we've got to find some way to improve the food they serve us.

    Well, I write for the school newspaper; for our next issue, I'm going to write about your blog. This is something that our administration really needs to know about, and I hope something good can come of it.

  21. Just finished catching up after discovering this blog! I love it! I'm enjoying the guest bloggers as well. The connection between learning well and eating well is best understood by teachers, I imagine, so thank you for showing the world in such a compelling way.
    Reflecting upon my own elementary school lunch experience, I was surprised at how little I could remember. However, one item that did jump to my mind was seemingly apropo: On Fridays we were served a strange sandwich that I could only liken to grilled cheese, though it was very different than anything one would make at home. These were baked in a pan, all one big piece, and then sliced into sandwich sized pieces, much like a pizza would be. The bread was thick and and the cheese (if one could call it that) was very rubbery. They were called "Cheese Zombies", which I'm sure we all turned into after eating them!

  22. At my school they serve Mazzio's pizza every thursday. That's the only time kids stay and eat lunch there. The other days most kids go off campus for lunch.

  23. I remember back in middle school, we used to pour puddles of elmer's glue onto the table and let it dry so we could peel it back up in interesting shapes. About halfway dry, it looked exactly like that cheese.

    also, @ WhitneySkyWalker: I dunno about elementary, but my high school occasionally had those little bagged carrots, and they were a hot commodity. The lunch ladies had to rotate which lunch shift they put them out in, because they were always gone within a single shift. The lunch ladies told us that they'd told their bosses how well the carrots went over, but still couldn't get larger orders of them. And actually, they might go over ok at the elementary level too – I've babysat a few kids who loved carrots (one was five, and carrots with hummus was pretty much his favorite food ever.)

    In my education classes, we talked a lot about self-fulfilling prophecies: the idea that if you set low expectations for kids, or give them negative labels, they will become that, whether or not they were before. I wonder how many kids only eat pizza, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets because they've absorbed the message that that's all kids are supposed to like?

  24. We don't have school lunches in New Zealand, so I'm finding this anthropological adventure fascinating. Especially last week and the yellow themed food. You're a brave woman.

  25. That pizza looks repulsive, but glad to see they have carrots, and pretzels at least!

  26. As an aside, apart from the horrible looking food. Don't schools use trays anymore? As in the reusable, washable kind with partitions for different food instead of all the pre-packaged and throwaway stuff? On top of being bad for our kids, this looks like a lot of being bad for our environment.

  27. HI, I am a quest and I read your blogs everyday. I love what you are doing and hope something comes out of this.

    My question is…
    Do you think anyone at your school has caught on yet that it is your school lunch that is being blogged about? Do a lot of the schools in Illinois use the same vendor for school lunches?

  28. Just found your blog and I'm fascinated by it. I think you're doing a good thing here. Keep it up! One question though, are none of the foods actually cooked at the school? It looks like everything is either in a box or bag and gets thrown in the microwave. Do you heat it yourself or is it heated by the cafeteria workers?

    School lunches have definitely changed since I was a kid. Our "lunch ladies" cooked most items in house and we even had a salad bar! 😮

    Thanks for bringing this to light. It's sad to see what our kids are supposed to be eating. Their little brains need a lot more nutrition than this!!

  29. I was really hoping for your sake that when I checked the blog again it wouldnt be pizza. I am not sure I could eat pizza once a week without loosing my mind.

  30. I am a product of public school lunch. Everyday, first through 8th grade, I ate school lunch, and usually happily. My favorite was always the pizza (ours didn't look so scary) and I drank chocolate milk every single day ( I guess they were successful in getting me to drink the milk, but I probably would have chosen the regular milk if it were the only option) Our lunch ladies did have some prep work to do- I'm surprised by all of the wasteful packaging your school's lunches are coming in. Our meals were dished out onto one of those partitioned trays. Despite this, I was always a healthy weight until I reached high school and ate from the snack bar and vending machine every day. Chips, soda, pizza sticks….I have struggled with my weight since then. But I'm beginning to wonder if the frame work for my issues wasn't established before then- our food supply is so tainted with additives and preservatives and fillers and I can only imagine what I was really eating in all of those lunches. Thank you for bringing attention to such an important issue. We really are what we eat!

  31. As a first time commenter I ask that you forgive me if I repeat something that has already been said, ask something already answered, or commit some other form of newbie heresy.

    That being said, kudos in your efforts at drawing attention to the lunches in your school. I must admit it is rather disheartening that you fear for your job for simply looking out for the best interests of your students – isn't that what teachers are meant to do anyway? I don't know what legalities you have been able to dig up in your research, but I would hope that being fired for something like this would be just cause for retaliation on your part. If people can successfully sue for spilling hot coffee on themselves then shouldn't a teacher be able to defend herself for looking after her students?

    I've noticed that sometimes, not often, but sometimes a balanced meal is suspected of being served in your school due to the inclusion of meat, dairy, fiber, veggie and fruit, which is wonderful, of course. However, just because it looks like a vegetable and may have once been a vegetable doesn't always mean it still packs all of the nutritional value of a vegetable. My memories of school lunches are of veggies served thah mushed instead of crunched when eaten and therefore (more than likely) had most of their vital nutrients killed in the cooking process. The raw carrots are great, but the cooked veggies still leave something to be desired in my mind. Still, something is better than nothing I suppose… Color though is something that is definitely lacking in your images (and I'm willing to bet it isn't due to your lack of color calibration/image file handling). Correct this vegetarian if she is wrong, but isn't meat supposed to have some color to it other than the grey stuff your images present? Shouldn't green veggies be, well, green instead of a grey green hopeful? I don't know if you have mentioned if there is an ingredient list on the jello or fruit cups, but if there is, do they all contain HFCS? Are the fruit cups in fruit juice or syrup? And how much artificial coloring is in the jello or icee packs? What about aspartame? which is used in a lot of low and fat free products (and all gums unfortunately), but can be just as bad for you as the natural sugar. One concern I have is in an attempt to make things better, they may be made worse by replacing products which may look better in the numbers, but still have just as much chemicals as the others.

    I am just ranting and spewing thoughts that have come to mind as I read through your blog. I find it inspiring that you and others like you are working towards change and thank you for enduring the fear of losing your job in order to promote an idea that is important to you and others. I genuinely hope that we can achieve the change we so desperately need in this country and I look forward to following you through your journey.

  32. Is the cheese actually boiling? Ah! XD

    The cheese pizza at my old schools was your normal school-standard rectangular, flat, boring, gross, pepperoni-bits-covered pizza. And I don't eat pepperoni because I don't eat pork.

    Once in a blue moon, they would offer a normal pizza-looking-slick of pizza with cheese-stuffed crust. It only had three big slices of pepperoni on it, so I would peel them off and use napkins to remove the grease from the pepperoni.

    Yeah, schools hardly offer options for partial vegetarians (as in that I do eat chicken and some beef, but absolutely no pork, sea food, or other meats).

  33. With respectful regards to those posting some schools are just too poor to serve nutritional lunches…

    A huge pot of vegetable soup (or any soup) served with a salad and dinner roll, an apple,one oatmeal cookie and 2% milk or bottled water is cheaper to serve than all that fat and carbs the schools serve now.

  34. That pizza looks gross but I'd eat the carrots & jello. Nothing wrong with those choices!! Don't feel bad, everyone has a weakness for pizza!!

  35. its not your fault…the fruit jello is quite addictive. I remember when i was in school i used to eat mine and others…
    sometimes if the meal was pretty crappy it wsa my lunch.
    I am sure that the reason that most of my friends and i never became obese in elementary school was because we actually had recess.

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