There is no money

You should know that my job is on the chopping block just like so many educators. So even if I don’t lose my job for the blog, I still could be shown the door because they don’t have money to pay me.

 Right now all over the country school administrators and principals are making some very difficult decisions. Cost cutting measures include: laying off all administration and ancillary staff including secretaries, assistant principals, reading specialists, curriculum coordinators, nurses, classroom aides, etc; closing pre-school programs, gifted programs, art, music, computer class, and extra-curriculars because they are not required by law; making kindergarten half-day thereby consolidating classrooms; offering early retirement to older, expensive teachers; letting go new teachers and closing their classrooms; and increasing class sizes to 40.

Have you ever seen a classroom with 40 students? I have… on multiple occasions. It’s chaos. How does even the most talented teacher manage the behavior of 40 (small) people? I couldn’t imagine leaving my child with 40 kids and one person. And that person would be in charge of educating my kid? Yeah, right. It’s called bad babysitting. Read: Reduce Class Size Now and Class Size Matters

Research has found that for kids K-3 they need a teacher:student ratio of 1:20 (or less) to learn effectively. Many wealthy districts already provide classrooms that size. The classrooms at my school are already in the 1:30 range.

Have you ever met a kid walk into kindergarten without any preschool experience and no prep or support at home? Yeah, I have… these kids haven’t been read to, don’t come from a print-rich environment, and don’t know rules and structure. Early childhood programs make a huge difference for children, especially those from disadvantaged homes. Read: Why investments in early childhood work.

I have gotten a couple questions from readers asking why I’m tackling school lunches when teaching positions are being closed because there is no money. I’d like to respond by saying: it’s not “either/or.”

We need make the long-term investment in children. We need to fund education. We need the best teachers. We need to feed students the best food we can find so that they can reach their potential as leaders. We are the USA after all! We act like we are the best, but look at how we fund education and school lunches. Do we really value children?

…Oh yeah, and let’s add recess back because the last time I checked running around was free.

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147 thoughts on “There is no money

  1. Mrs. Q….

    I was glas to run across your blog. I am a laid off teacher in California and I completely agree with your take on the school lunches. Even when I was in school ( not so long ago) they actually cooked meals for lunches and now everything is bagged and tagged as I call it. Wrapped in plastic and heated just like it is. Sometimes I wonder what chemicals are going into our students bodies when they eat plastic wrapped food. The school I worked at had the same time line for the children to eat as well. They also served chocolate milk everyday. Thank you for taking the chance you are and letting people know how it is.

  2. I would like to put out for discussion that in the days of one-room school houses, there was only one teacher for all the students in all grades. Having one teacher for 30 students should not be a hardship.

  3. I found your blog today & I have spent hours reading it…..I have 2 children (9 & 6) in school & struggle w/ the school lunches as well. My kids are thin & for now, overweight is not my problem – but the school lunches are horrible. I have to say – when I saw your pictures – I was shocked – our schools do not used frozen items but the meals are still very much the same as yours. Pizza every Wed. – corn dogs, chuckwagon (what is a chuckwagon?), tater tots. Both of my kids start out the school year taking their lunch – but one tires of it & wants to eat hot food. Every month we review the menu so that we can select days that they can actually eat.

    I will say …on the flip side…my kids have recess each day & gym 3 days per week…which I love!!!!

    I think I will send your blog to our principal. Keep it coming…I'll keep reading!

  4. I go to a Chicago Public School and our lunches look a lot more gross than those Mrs Q is eating……and that picture of macaroni on one of the entries looks really gross…….we have a similar thing at school…..nobody eats it….it all goes to waste……and thats just wrong

  5. I'm actually a student in Virginia, and I saw your blog on Yahoo. I personally bring my lunch to school, because I truly dislike what they sell. At my school, the things I've seen sold are: cheeseburger, chicken sandwich, fries, potato wedges, cookies, fruit snacks (just recently they've stopped offering those), pizza, once they served something that seemed like maybe a fajita, and whatever those things are that seem like stuffed crust pizza without the pizza.

    Mmm, tasty. Not. I honestly wish we had something like a salad bar, or fresh food? I'd probably buy my lunch then.

  6. This is a company based in Florida that offers organic healthy lunches to private schools or to whoever wants to serve organic meals, like preschools, daycares etc. My friend and his wife run/own it and they are very successful. They deliver it, and offer multiple kid friendly options. Take a look, and you'll wanna order for your household!! It's sooo good and realistically reasonably priced….it's a no brainer for me.

  7. Mrs Q,
    Thanks for doing your part–and at such risk–to hammer home the reality of so many school lunch programs. You're right: the quality of the food our nation's children are eating is deplorable.
    If I may piggyback–it's also disturbing to me that every lunch you show is served on "disposable" (read, "future garbage") plates. I can't imagine how much trash is generated from one meal.
    So not only is your district dumping trash into the students, it's dumping trash into the environment as well. Nice.

  8. I'm also in IL and last year worked at a public elementary school. Its cafeteria was a joke. I am 100% when I say that one day the breakfast being served was a LEMON WEDGE and a single serving pkg of SALTINES w/milk. And God forbid you questioned it, b/c the cooks were extremely defensive about the nutritional "value" of that meal. I know b/c I mentioned what a horrible excuse for a meal it was.

    My child attends private school this year.

  9. I want to say, "Good for you, Mrs. Q!" Hopefully someone will listen! I had a child with mental disabilities who even made comments about how bad the lunches were–if that will tell anyone anything!
    Our school had so many choices that the kids didn't have to always eat the bad things but to eat the good things they paid more because they weren't on the "regular or reduced" lunch menu. There were many times I was adding more money to the lunch account so my kids could eat salads or things that weren't all grease.

  10. I can completely sympathize with poor lunchroom choices. I fortunately had the same Lunch Room Administrator for my of my school career. His name escapes me now but he kept on moving from school to school because his son was the same grade as me.

    School lunch had to get creative sometimes, the same bad pizza and fries were choices to eat but at least there was a vegetarian option available besides just a salad. There were times when he would take pity on my and let me buy the teacher lunch just so I could avoid eating all the junk they had to serve. Eventually he made deals with pizza hut to have bread sticks and personal pan pizzas come from there so that gave them extra money to put to alternatives food choices.

    However even the worst food I had is not nearly as bad as what is being served to your Mrs. Q. I hope the food gets better, at least it can't get worse right?

  11. While it is nice to see someone taking an interest and caring about what today's children are eating, by the author's own statements of how some of these children in her school only eat 1 meal a day; how does one think she would feel if she were to stop and think, that by her eating a school lunch, granted it she pays, potentially means that a child goes hungry? Not enough lunches are made for every child who needs one, and now adults, who can bring their own food, are eating one of those limited in number lunches.
    And yes, to an adult, the size of the meal is not sufficient. To a child, who eats the entire meal and is not a picky eater, these meals would suffice, granted not if it were only meal eaten that day.
    With the financial pinch that everyone is feel these days, schools are lucky they can still afford to serve hot lunches, and to those who qualify, at reduced or no cost. Let alone try to make up for what a child may be lacking at home.
    While it does cost money to buy food, one can still get healthy food for minimal cost when one shops smart. If a child is in need of food, and they don’t eat something provided to them simply for the reason of “I don’t like it” or “I don’t like vegetables”, that child can be hungry for the day. Yes, some of you will call me heartless, but the truth is, if the child is hungry, they will eat it. When you have limited options of what you can afford when it comes to food, you learn to “like” the things you would not eat if you could afford other options.

  12. I just read an article about your blog and had to check it out! Thank you so much! We provide our students with substandard food options and then wonder why test scores at not better. If we as educators (all school members) and leaders in our communities do not find a way to provide proper nourishment to our students, then their bodies and brains will not function as they are meant to function. Our students will not perform as they should. Nourishing the body and mind is essential for any learning to occur. The food we eat is a part of all content areas and is key to all academic success. Keep blogging!

  13. First I want to say if you believe you are going to be found out and fired then it will happen. What you truly believe and focus on will happen to you. it is a known fact. That is why everyone is talking about attitude and what you think about is what your life will be about.

    Secondly I have to agree with you regarding school lunches. I worked in two public schools back East and I could not believe what they were feeding children for breakfast and lunch and the fact that there were soda machines in the schools because Pepsi would pay them to be there. Which I think is sad. Soda is so bad for children.

    Sugary cereals and donuts for breakfast and then the lunches were terrible. Not nutrition.

    Secondly they can have better meals. But I also am one of those people thinks we need to make parents more responsible for their children. I saw so much go on in public schools and the fact I worked for the county and saw so much. We want the government to take care of everything for us. I know we all pay high taxes which I am against but you can't have it both ways.

    I realize things happen and people need help once in a while but we should not rely on the government to make sure our children eat properly.

    I do commend you on doing this. Maybe more people need to do this in order see exactly what children are eating.

    I worked in the special education department and I saw them feeding these children sugary treats for rewards and than wondering why they were bouncing off the walls by the end of the day. When I said something about it to the teacher her comment to me was what do you want me to give them, vegetable and dip. I told her yes. Children will eat it if it is there.

    That is why so many people are sick today because they do not take care of themselves or their children. I thought I was doing well until I was introduced to a wellness company and found out that even though I was eating pretty well how bad I really was feeling and didn't realize it until I changed my eating habits and starting supplementing on how much better I could feel.

    We need to educate people. than health care costs will go down. I know. I can't tell you the last time I was sick and I am in my 50's. No medications.

    I do alternatives before I will go to medication. We are a society that wants to have our cake and eat it too. We want a quick fix. It took years for people to get to where they are. So it will take time to heal the body.

  14. Great blog. I Can relate, I am a teacher assistant in a major city public school. My hours have already been cut from 6 down to 4.5. The school I work at already have a student teacher rate of 1:20 but due to budget cuts they are talking about making kindergarten half day again. which is sad because most of the children who is in kindergarten comes in knowing little to no English. As in your state they keep cutting and cutting. Also about the recess I agree that it is free so let them play and run. The school I work at do not let them play kick ball or run because they are to scare of them getting hurt. This is a major reason for the obesity rate.

  15. Question: are you noticing any weight gain from eating the school lunches? They look full of bad carbs/breads and full of fat and nitrates. I would think it would cause weight gain.

  16. I know this is apples and oranges but just thought I would throw this out there. I live and teach in S.Korea. Classes here, on average, are 40-50 students, from elementary to high school. S.Korea is usually ranked #1 or #2 in maths and sciences. Classes are large but teachers are given a large amount of respect by society in general, parents and children in particular. I think this says something about the cultural dimension of education in America, which by the way, I was educated in. Great blod, keep up the great work!!

  17. Hi Mrs. Q,

    Your blog and the limited information you provide regarding our nation's government ran public school systems (specifically the one where you are employed) has encouraged me as a home educator(we can not afford private education). I'd like to thank you.
    Your candid posts are examples as to why my husband and I are STRONGLY in support of the "seperation of school and state".
    When most folks hear about "seperation of school and state", they "freak out" and question, "How would all the kids be educated without the government?"
    My general response is, "Do you really believe most of today's government educated students are actually receiving an education? From the view out my window – it looks more like a gigantic babysitting service. It is a parent's responsibility to make sure their children are educated – not the government's."
    Our government is and has been FAILING in the area of education for decades. I think it is time parents took back control of the education systems in our nation.
    Many of our nation's founding fathers did not attend "schools". However, they all learned to read, write and calculate arithmetic far better than many degreed individuals in our modern society. These men, their wives and families viewed education as a tremendous blessing. It was not taken for granted and it was not squandered.

    I sincerely respect you and the men and women who decide to enter into our nation's government ran educational systems. You guys have far more strength and mercy than I. I firmly believe you all are doing as best as you can within a VERY POORLY managed system.


  18. This whole lunch thing is one of the many problem areas caused by our government. Many people look to the government to feed the children, so they can blame the government when the kids grow up and struggle with obesity instead of taking responsibility themselves!

    This is exactly what the government has wanted for years. They want the people to depend on them for as much as possible so they don't think for themselves. It started with welfare years ago and now it's "healthcare". They need to worry more about the exercise habits of kids and not so much about what they are eating. We ate a lot of the same food when I was in school and very few of us were obese. It's because we were active kids. Not to mention our parents actually cared enough about us to make sure we ate, exercised, and studied. Lord help us now that we have to look to the government to now do what Parents should be doing. But who can blame them? When the amount of money, food, housing, and other fleecing items the government hands out is tied to the number of kids you have or the amount of money you "DIDN'T EARN" or the job you "DIDN'T GET", we can't expect people to have kids because they love them and care for them.

    To this I say, thank you to this teacher for the job you are doing and for being concerned. I wish there were a million more of you out there. I just wish you could pour some of your concern into the kids' parents. I also wish our government would get out of our lives and let us be free again!! There are still remnants of a once GREAT nation lingering, but they will soon be gone if things continue on the same path. It's time for regular, down-to-earth citizens to run Washington D.C. and State Governments once again. We no longer need politicians or lawyers. As for America, God knows each and every one of us, BUT He LOVES us anyway!!!

    Thank you!

  19. Hi,
    I just ran across your blog as well and I'm very happy to see a teacher getting involved like you are. I have to say though, that school lunches look a lot more appealing than my days on the school's free lunch program. Most of the time, however, I would just get the least amount I could and stare at it until lunch was over. Usually in a silent, boy-girl-boy order because the teachers who ran lunch were somewhat like drill sergeants.
    I just wanted to ask if the teachers at your school ever eat with the students? I know lunchtime is probably the best time for many teachers to regain their sanity and chat with colleagues but I remember when I was in elementary school the best lunches were with an adult. I feel having the opportunity for a young child to see a teacher in a less formal environment would not only encourage the child to eat but also help with discipline issues and keep the bullying at lunch tables to a minimum. Plus, if the teacher engages the child in an interesting, friendly way, the child is a lot more likely to not let that teacher down when it comes to homework and class participation. I truly feel just as much teaching can come from experience as from a book.
    I hope your blog makes a difference!

  20. It's really too bad that you didn't do this project when I was still in high school or I would post up some pics. The food we used to eat was even worst than yours…Disgusting mystery tacos, expired milk, expired chips, mushy spaghetti, nasty tasting mashed potatoes, etc. We also had the same type of pizza you do. Our school did add a salad bar, which made things a little more bearable. I would not gain weight from this food…They don't serve enough of it and I don't eat enough of it to gain weight, lol

  21. I haven't promoted school lunches to my kids for years. I live in Texas. Our school lunches are something I would step on not eat. I certainly wouldn't want my kids to eat something I wouldn't eat. For years, I have been frustrated, not with just the lunches, I always worked hard to provide a decent packed lunch for my brood, and the control is in the sack lunch. But my concern has also been with the other Moms, Room mothers and teachers who allowed my children access to garbage I wouldn't allow my children access to, such as candy, soda, cookies, and cakes, dumb pizza, pizza and more pizza. When my children are deserving of such items, I want to be the giver, not others in the school and I want control on ingredients, quantity and preparation.

  22. I have to say I have never seen anything like the food being served at your school. Ew! My husband works in the public school system (Idaho, California, Hawaii, Vermont)and I guess he has been lucky enough to work at schools that serve "real" food. Right now we are in Vermont and am happy to say that my husband's school serves "home cooked" food, bake bread daily and the class sizes are small. They also receive Federal Grant money for a Fresh Fruit and Veggie Snack program. I am the preparer of the snacks and enjoy having the kids try new things each day. The kids are also enjoying things they never thought they'd like. Vermont is always looking for qualified Special Ed teachers, so if you are looking for quality…come on out.

  23. my daughter is now 33. When she attended school we lived in the KCMO disctrict and even then it was not the school district to have your kid in. I moved her to Independence and later Blue Springs. We moved to Texas and I sent her back to live with her grandparents. We moved to Florida and I put her in a magnet school. Why? Because even then we were churning out under-educated kids by the masses.

    I currently am back in college and worked as a volunteer in the Computer Commons area. It blew my mind the classes the kids were signing up to take in college! Remedial math, reading, writing – these kids can't bloody read! They cannot string a sentence together and make any sense! And these are the people who will be changing my diaper someday? They can't spell it! Good lord what is wrong with this country when we cannot teach our children the basics in grade school???

    As for the amount of lunch time: I am also a product of that 15 minute lunch. At 50+ years I still hoover my food out of habit. I have to work really hard to eat without sparks flying off my plate. This is tragic – this is worse than tragic, it's sinful! We are ruining our future to save a few dollars today. We are selling our children to the corporate stores so to speak and thinking nothing of it. This is why we are falling behind. All we can do is start wars and give them guns and even then hope they don't shoot the wrong people. We have to be accountable to the children and the children's children. It is up to us NOW. So they may have to play a little less football in order to study for the algebra exam. So what? I passed high school without taking algebra because I babysat for my teacher for free. That was wrong then as it is wrong now. I finally got past it in college (taking remedial classes of course) with a professor who cared enough to help me understand. This has to stop!!!

  24. I really appreciate what you are doing! As a junior in high school I see first hand all the food that is served in the lunch room. Most of it is processed meats that look sick when you see them. One girl at my school ate some french fries that were served and her mouth began to swell up from them. When we reach the period before lunch you can hear the rumbling of everyone's stomachs in the classroom and then when we go to lunch all we have to choose is the sorry excuse of food they serve to us. At our school there are 3 lunch shifts for the 2800 students at our school. Each shift gets about 23 minutes before the next one is called in. When your shift begins you have to rush into line, which sometimes takes 15 minutes just to get through the rush of people to get your food, and after that you have to wait in another line to pay. By the time all that is over and done with you have to basically shove down your food before the bell rings. The students who find the food to be unedible go out to the restaurant down the street and might order a salad or maybe even a Big Mac, which may be healthier than the stuff we are served. When the students return to school with their food, the faculty takes their food, which keep in mind the students paid for themselves, and are assigned ISS for the rest of the day. This, to me, reminds me of Civil Disobedience. These students are justified to get themselves a lunch they can enjoy and save themselves from going home with a stomach ache. Alot of us consider the lunch ladies' most important tool to be a box cutter since that is really all they use to cook our food. I'm glad someone like you is standing up for us, and even if I may not see the effects of what you have done, I'll know well that maybe my kids will not come home with a stomach ache or have their diets poorly influenced from what I am trying to instill on them.
    Sorry if my grammar is poor, I began typing a comment before this but there was an error and it deleted my comment so I had to start again from the beginning.

  25. Hi Ms Q
    Your blog is so interesting. I dont have childen but I remember school lunches (late '80s) were horrible. Thank you for being so brave and caring so much about the kids to take this risk.

    I have a question for you. I am noticing consistently through your posted pictures of the lunches the sheer amount of waste ie, lots of prepackaged paper waste and plastic. I guess they dont do lunch trays nowadays? Has anyone addressed the waste issue caused by the packaging? Do they encourage the kids to recycle? I know, it isn't the focus of the blog, but it was something I noticed. Is it really cheaper for the schools to provide prepackaged foods over foods prepared at the school?

  26. Something needs to be done, and it needs to start with you and me. My question now is, what can I, my friend, my neighboor do to help??? Let me know!!!

  27. I just came from a school district where I managed the money collected for school lunches and the processing of applications for free and reduced lunches.

    I haven't read enough of the posted comments to see if there have been any comments or feedback from school food service employees, so I thought I would throw my two cents and opinion in (disclaimer – this is only from my experiences, other districts may do things differently):

    *funding for school lunches comes partially from government funding and partially from what the school board decides is an acceptable amount. Some school boards strive for quality meals at schools, others find it unnecessary and cut corners in this area first.

    *food service workers (or managers in particular) are told how much money they have to work with, how many government subsidies and commodity products they will receive, and the rest is up to them to compile menus and make it fit said budget. Think it's hard to do for your family? Imagine a school with 500+ kids, plus faculty.

    *school food service workers are paid an atrocious amount of money – usually minimum wage or below. Don't think this is an easy job – these women (and men) arrive super-early to prepare breakfast, are on their feet all day, and must deal with the unrealistically short serving times for classes that are usually set by school administrators.

    *My grandmother is an elementary cafeteria manager, and I have seen the books she must keep. She accounts for every chicken nugget, every fruit cup, every container of milk. She is required by the state to keep detailed records for each day, monitoring how much protein, fat, servings of vegetables, etc. is in each tray that is served. Each tray must meet state nutrition guidelines.

    My point is this: I applaud your blog. You are taking decisive action to help change not only the nutritional value of school lunches, but the way food is thought of and approached by our children.

    I want you and others who read this blog to understand all parts of this puzzle – many food service workers, managers, even administrators want meals changed so that they are more nutritionally responsible and approached with more care and concern. It takes action from all areas of responsibility to make this change happen.

  28. I have been out of high school for 10 years. I remember having the french bread pizza, apple sauce, and tater tots. I don't remember the food being too terrible. I don't remember them wrapping them all up individually either… what a waste! Anyways… I was also a vegetarian (my choice, I didn't like meat growing up) so I really didn't go through the "hot food" line. Our class C school had a salad bar or a potato bar as a choice on top of the random mystery meat in the "hot meal" line.
    I DO remember when the "Snack bar" and vending machines became available my Sophomore year! You could go to the "snack bar" line (much longer than the "hot food" line)instead of the other lines. Snack bar had bosco sticks for $2.50 (12 years ago!), chips, chocolate chip cookies, pop, candy bars, and juices. When the "snack bar" became available… I lost my lunch money by Tuesday and bummed off of everyone else the rest of the week. So I was sugared up during the first half of the week and super tired by the end… My Sophomore year was the worst year when it came to grades and weight (super skinny and sluggish)… I want to blame food and self discipline. But the snack bar should not have been an option. My parents had no clue I was spending all my money on junk. Eventually I got tired of being hungry and learned to budget my Snack money =).
    Just a memory… not a rant
    I read this blog from the very beginning… love it. I saw it showcased on YAHOO and decided to say… well… something. Congrats and good luck!

  29. In the days of one-room school houses, teachers were trained to handle a room filled with 50 or more students. Today, that is not the case. Furthermore, paddling was an acceptable punishment for mouthing off, goofing off, and otherwise being naughty. Not so today. Teachers have only so many tools at their disposal and it's very difficult to get through to students when they are wild and when there's more than 20 of them. Imagine yourself with the entire town's kids for the whole day, trying to get them to do 12 different things at once. It's harder than it looks.

    On another note, I remember these lunches… I'm so happy for everyone else who doesn't have to suffer through them. Our district was looking for something very cheap and easy to prepare, and while they managed that, the results were disgusting. Honestly, pancake on a stick? I never did meet a kid who managed to eat that meal, even the ones who would then go without anything to eat all day. Some things are just too gross to eat.

  30. I applaud the effort!

    As for the comment regarding "controlling the behavior of the classroom" it is sad that many parents expect the teachers to "teach" all proper behaviors. It is a combined effort of the entire community-not one person. Some children get no meals at home and I am floored to know what they eat. Washington School in New Orleans has a great program teaching children how to grow, eat and cook food that is grown on the school grounds.

  31. I may only be a 19 year old college student but I have eaten school lunches since I was in Kindergarten. When I lived in New York at a richer district, we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and meals that were hot and fruits, etc. When we moved to a school near Detroit it's like all hell broke loose when it came to food.
    I not only got the stomach flu one year and ended up at Children's Hospital of Michigan, but I had countless days of stomach aches. I felt like suing my high school. What kind of public education system that is preparing students for their future puts their students through this? If we can't afford good food, then forget about schooling us. You can't starve us and expect us to get A's.

    At my high school, one of the lunch ladies said, "I can't believe we are serving this stuff." When we overheard this, we knew that we weren't the only ones.

    If you get fired for this blog, not only will I believe that our public school system is a shame to believe in, but I will expect another teacher to start up a blog. We have a right to democracy, so your right to free speech stands and you should never be put on the chopping block for this blog.

    My sophomore and junior year of high school, I ate lunch probably 5 days out of the whole year. Coming from a very low income family, that was a shame. I lost a lot of weight. Our country can create countless numbers of nuclear bombs + war equipment just to keep our country out of another depression but we can't fund for children's food?!?!?!

  32. i will say this as a student who goes to a conjoined middle and elementary school.

    My lunch at school is terrible we eat the same things almost everyday
    its either pizza (which looks dry and greasy), chicken nuggets(which look black sometimes), and burgers (which are actually good)

    but the food is tastless and disgusting we dont get a variety of foods. The food hardly looks fresh as it is.

    Im in the 7th grade and i had always thought that middle school lunches would be better but theyre worse (we even find hair in our food). At least the elementary food was packaged and u would find anything extra. The fruit doesnt even look fresh (just a note i go to school in washington d.c.)

    You would think that a school thats downtown and not in the ghetto somewhere would have a better enviroment. It does compared to the ghetto but its not as great as alot of schools theyre are down were i am , and im close to alot of buisnesses and working people.

  33. I'm not exactly caught up with everything, I just discovered this after reading an article about your blog on yahoo. I'm a junior in an inter-city high school in the US. It's nice to know people care about the lunch we eat. ^-^
    In my school sophmores, juniors, and seniors are allowed to go outside to buy lunch. We have about 45 min for lunch. There are many stores around school all within a 10-15 minute walk so that leaves most students with enough time to finish lunch. If we plan to go somewhere a bit farther for lunch, we plan it so that we spend less time at our lockers, so overall for the upperclassmen lunch is good as long as you can afford it.
    The freshmen are subjected to either school lunch or buying something in the cafeteria. The options are really tiny slices of oily pizza, cookies that they used too much butter to bake, baked Lays potato chips, Iced Tea (with too much sugar in them… they're not much better than soda), and sandwiches that are always sold out. They aren't given many decent healthy options and regular school lunch is terrible, so many students opt to forgo lunch. The vegetarian option is MUCH safer, it's cheese/pb&j sandwiches and "pizza" on fridays. (At least we know what we are eating XD)
    Lunch and food in general, is very important. You are what you eat. And I remember watching Supersize Me multiple times in elementary and middle school… I remember it mentioned something about a lunch program that was not very expensive and served good food (and it looked very appealing on screen). I remember after watching it many of my classmates remarked, "Now why can't we have that?" I believe that is a very legit question, "Why can't we have that?"

  34. What you're doing is really great and I'm glad that it made the Yahoo news page. Something needs to be done; policies need to be changed. I thought the student tended gardens were a great idea. I guess I don't understand the entire picture–fruits and veggies are relatively cheap. Are kids not eating the healthy food provided and going for the junk? Or is there just a lack of healthy food in general? It should not be that difficult to hire even a culinary student or volunteer at each school who can oversee the operations and make sure what they're serving is quality.

  35. After seeing your school lunches, I feel extremely fortunate. My yson's elementary school offers free breakfast & lunch to all the students. Not every child takes advantage of this, obviously, but many do.

    I have shared several breakfasts with the children. I'm told what I get is typical. Breakfast consists of vanilla nonfat yogurt, a granola/flake cereal (much like a generic Honey Bunches of Oats), fruit cocktail in juice, fresh orange wedges, & 1% milk. Added to that is a piece of "pan dulce" from a local organic bakery.

    Our school has a garden, which they grow not only in a small plot behind a classroom, but in containers in & around the classrooms & playgrounds, where they serve double-duty as decoration. The elder students (4th and 5th grade) work in the gardens as part of their science curriculum, and if they are well-behaved, are allowed to visit the school cafeteria once a week to help prepare a healthy snack using the fruits and vegetables from their garden, as well as items donated by some of our local organic and pesticide free farms. Last time, my son came home with a recipe for mandarine orange and spring green salad with balsamic dressing. (BTW, at least where we live, our dollar store sells everty ingredient they used. A salad to feed a family of 4 would cost about $4.)

    Once a month, there is a full salad bar and "Buy Local" day, where the kids are encouraged to try a fresh fruit or vegetable of the month. The reward for their taste test is a sticker proclaiming "I tried a new food today!" Some months it's something as simple as heirloom tomatoes or red grapes. Another, it was persimmons. I think next month they will have strawberries.

    The elementary school removed all but one soda machine and replaced them with bottled water (the sole remaining soda machine is in the teacher's lounge and students are not permitted to use it.) They also have policies requiring that snacks brought to class parties and birthdays be at least somewhat healthy. They haven't gone so far as to ban all sweet treats (which, I believe leads kids to binge on "forbidden foods" as they get older), they encourage moderation.

  36. CONT:

    They have provisions for kids w/ food allergies, Celiac disease and vegan/vegetarian kids – just by adding items seperately. If a child chooses not to take something, it's not required. (Also, there is no chocolate milk and no fruit juice!)

    Compared to my own experience with school lunches 20+ years ago (wilted slimy lettuce shredded into salads, watered down salad dressing, government surplus cheese in shades of dayglo yellow, and chocolate pudding that smelled suspiciously like acetone nail polish remover – gee, any wonder I had food poisoning on pretty much a WEEKLY basis), it's a godsend. Had it not been for the junk food machines, I'd have surely died of botulism before high school. The only thing that saddens me is that apparently, my son's school lunches are NOT the norm. Personally, I would like to see our federal and state politicians subsist on what they deem appropriate in school lunches and see what they think after a year. I doubt obesity would be an issue – they would surely lose their appetites after a week!

    To those reading who wonder why "they" should not have to put money into schools/school lunches/etc. when "they" don't have kids – let me ask this. Who exactly do you think will grow up to be your lawyer, your doctor, your police officer, your dentist, your nurses, your politicians, your teachers and college professors, your lawyers and your accountants, along with every other vital profession under the sun? People think "the children are our future" is just a trite phrase, but it's a reality. The kids in school now WILL be the ones working to not only take care of you, but of me, not only literally, but figuratively with their own tax dollars as they pay into Social Security and other social programs. The people who came before you invested in your education in public school, and now it's your turn to invest in the next generation. Maybe it does suck and seem like an unfair burden. Did you know education accounts for 1% of our national budget? That's it… Our government has probably already spent more investigating illegal drug use by professional athletes than it will this entire year on education. I'd call that far more wasteful.

  37. Mrs. Q ~
    Thank you so much for writing this blog – I know it's just one more thing on your to-do list as a teacher and responsible adult.

    One thing that I am appalled at is the fact that everything you and the students are eating appears to be pre-packaged. The waste from packaging alone from daily lunches must be astounding. My other concern is how the food might be prepared – are all these lunches thrown in the microwave to be heated, zapping and killing what may have been nutritious in the food at one point?

    Keep up the good work!

  38. I just wanted to say thank you to all of the amazing teachers who truly care about our kids and their education! It is so sad to see so much money cut from education. These are the future leaders of our country.

  39. I just found your blog and looked through all of the archives. Thank you for being brave enough to do what you're doing! I live in Illinois, and due to our low income my children participate in the free lunch program. We can typically afford to pack lunch for them about twice a week, so each time I get the lunch calendar I have to study it very carefully to choose the lunches that they will eat and to weigh all of the poor nutrition choices. One of my many complaints about our school lunches: They put gravy on EVERYTHING. On the mashed potatoes, the chicken patties, the roasted potatoes, the pork sandwiches. And all of the veggies on the menu are listed as being buttered. I just don't understand why yogurt is never on the menu; and they never even have fresh bananas–one of the cheapest fresh fruits available year round! Something just needs to change about school lunch.

    Anyway, keep doing what you're doing. I'll definitely keep reading.

  40. I work in a cafeteria at an Elementary school and our lunches dont look like the ones you posted pic's. of.I'm not sure what the nutritonal value is of the lunches we serve.I do eat the lunch every day. All i can say is that our rolls are made from scratch using wheat flower. We have two to three choices everyday. A salad is offered every day. A lot of our foods are made on site.The bread for sandwiches are wheat bread.We are not allowed to add salt to anything.We use mostly canned fruit, but do have some fresh fruit at least 2-3 times a week,blueberries , grapes ,apples, oranges,cherries and sometimes melons (watermelon and cantaloupe), banana's. It's usually 1-3 of these.I'm not saying our lunches are perfect or that there always healthy. What i'm trying to say is that not all the luches are like what you are getting( which I probaly wouldnt eat). And as far a the guidelines of being clean ,the county I live in has very strict health codes and we take pride in following those.We always have to wear a hairnet . Gloves anytime we are going to touch food. We have to have bleach water with a little soap to wipe any surface down at all times. Pest control comes around 1 amonth to check out our cafeterias and if we see anything before he comes around the next month we call him out immeadiately.Food has to be wrapped and dated daily.I think it all comes down to who is running your food services for your county.

  41. I hope you won't lose your job as a result of this blog. I think it's great that you're tackling this tough issue. I was a teacher so I know how hard your job is. Thanks for doing what you do!

  42. I just found your blog today…… HOLY COW I LOVE YOU!!!! Today's post hits home as I am the wife of an art teacher in Nevada and we are holding our breath to see if we have a job as well. I have blogged several times on education. I also blogged about food and school as my daughter started PK as a typical peer in the autistic class this year, all my hard work is going out the window to cruddy snacks, we would qualify for free/reduced lunches next year and as much as that will help in our budget I will not let my kids go near it. I would love for you to research the toxins of the plastics that the food is reheated in as well, I do not think that is good for them either. Thank you for putting yourself out there!!

  43. I grew up in public schools and ate the lunches.
    They were pretty good and we only got one choice until I got to the 9th grade.I think some folks are just plain spoiled rotten.

  44. I must say, after reading the blog and some of the responses, many of you have very valid points. I agree, we pay a lot for education. With that said, we don't pay enough for the education or good teachers they really need.

    As far as food is concerned, my daughter's school district is one of the lucky ones. We still have a salad bar, most of the hot food is beige but still healthier than the average school lunch. I remember walking in my own school lunch line as a kid and feeling horrified at the pans of gross bulk casseroles, barely warmed veggies and bread available for consumption. I am happy that my daughter's lunch has good nutritious food for her to eat. It certainly is a better lunch than I had as a kid. Unfortunately, not all kids have the same opportunities.

    As for kids that don't have the same opportunities to have smaller class sizes, better lunches, as well as, sports and music programs, we should be ashamed of spending money on frivolous things. When do we really need a Lexus, Porsche, season tickets to a pro-team or high-end clothing? Yes, the rich can afford anything they want. But, I have seen many middle class folks trying to look rich with their manicures and brand name everything that they have to spend so much time at work trying to afford all these things, that the children suffer. They suffer because their parents are so stressed out from all the overtime they work and lack of quality time. Not to mention, expected to do well in school without the parents' support at home. The child's performance is being put on to the teacher.

    Of course, we all want to better ourselves. What parent doesn't? However, the poor of our country are dealing with worse situations. They are trying to feed their family on what little they do have. Sometimes the best food is what their kids eat at school.

    The lack of nutrition is just a piece of the education pie. I applaud Mrs. Q for putting herself out there for all of us to throw in our 2 cents. Until we get back to the basics (good education, parental involvement, and prioritizing our money for use by our children and schools), we can kiss our future goodbye!

  45. Wow! Thank you and Bless you for taking this issue on. My question is… When did school lunches get to be so bad? I don't ever recall seeing anything wrapped in cardboard and plastic… What happened to those sweet lunch ladies wearing the hair nets? The public schools that I attended had "real" food that was prepared/cooked onsite. This is a sad state of affairs when our children are not only receiving less education, but we're feeding them nutritionally void meals???

  46. I applaud your bravery and insight! As a teacher, I do the best I can with what little we have. As you well know, this often means buying supplies out of pocket. I totally agree about the school lunch issue. It is a total shame that we are programming our future generations to eat junk. Yes, it is junk! It's amazing what is served. The other day, students were served canned peaches, fruit cocktail, strawberry wafer cookies, and mini pizzas. I shudder to think of the empty calories that were consumed! And we expect our students to be able to think after that? To pay attention? To learn? Also, they get one single recess each day, not enough to let loose the energy needed. Honestly, if adults tried to work and live in this manner, they would rebel. Things have to change for the better or we are doomed as a nation. It seems that our nation's priorities are out of whack. Thank you for what you do!

  47. I am glad to see there are teachers out there that do care so much; as with other issues that the educational system faces i know there are always pros and cons but I do feel that there are too many teachers in the field that don't give 100% to their students in terms of actually being objective each day and growing, learning and adjusting with them as the future generations do seem completely different then a lot of our generations were.

    Attitude does have a huge impact not only when it comes into play for the students but for the teachers as well. Care about what you are doing and approach each day as a new one with the same goal each time, making a difference in your students lives and giving 100% to what it is you are paid to do, make sure they learn something.

    As an overworked, stressed single-parent I know there is a lot more I could do to ensure my child is giving his all in school and I have done just that even when he hasn't been doing that well, but i speak mainly from the perspective of someone who was in the school system years ago and sees a difference in the quality of teaching my child is receiving. I would like to hope that he could form bonds similar to those I did have with some of my teachers in knowing that they cared and didn't seem to give up on a kid just because they have had more bad days than good. (Regardless of classroom size…)

  48. You're amazing. I'm a high school student, and at my school, everything is pre-packaged, pre-frozen, and full of preservatives. The general consensus around the lunchroom is even if we eat things that are slightly unhealthy, it's still better for us than what's currently being served. In grade school, I lived off of canned peaches, because they were the only thing I would eat, and in junior high I often skipped lunch because there was nothing appealing anyway. By drawing attention to exactly how disgusting and unhealthy these meals are you could help fix the problem. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  49. I think this blog is awesome! I am only a substitute teacher, but I have eaten many meals in my son's cafeteria. I was a police officer for years and made it a point to stop by my daughter's school to eat with her. The staff was great, kind and the kids were happy to see me. I wanted them to see me eat the same food, but it was not easy.

    I think this blog should be brought up to all administrators and something should be done. I realize that teachers need better pay, but that is for them to negotiate. My personal concern is first for my children. I want my son to eat at the school in order to have a balanced lunch, but he comes home and tells me every night at dinner what gross thing he ate.

    I agree that parents should get involved and find out what can be done. Our kids spend more time at school and learn more than just academics.

  50. My husband was one of them that got the chop last year. He's been subbing ever since, but the emotional toll is hard. Along with food budgets, PE, and recess, his subject (music) is also one of the first cut.

    Keeping my fingers crossed for you that you do not meet the same fate.

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