Day 54: cheese sandwich

Today’s menu: cheese sandwich, tater tots, pretzels, fruit icee, milk (not pictured as I am lactose-intolerant)

I ate most of the cheese sandwich. In case you were wondering the tater tots count as the veggie here. Yes, I’ll say it again – tater tots (or fries for that matter) count as a veggie. I know. I was shocked too but now I just shrug.

Then the fruit icee bar! The packaging has been upgraded. AND it is 100% juice so that’s an improvement. I was able on it suck on it and I didn’t pucker up from a massive influx of sweet hitting my taste buds. Are things looking up?

Also it’s worth noting that the flavor is “outrageous orange,” but it’s apple juice and pineapple concentrate when you read the ingredients. I think we should label it “amazing apple and plucky pineapple” juice or the equivalent. Kids don’t care whether or not it’s orange or apple and we should be honest with them.

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44 thoughts on “Day 54: cheese sandwich

  1. It's just depressing how monochrome everything is though. You don't notice it until you start eating more unprocessed stuff, but food is so much more interesting when you have a good variety of produce on your plate. So many vital colors are out there, and there are nutrients specific to each photochemical.

    I think the point about malnourishment even when there are too many calories being consumed is right on. There are plenty of calories in this lunch, but it's mostly starch and sugars with a little bit of calcium, fats, sodium, and maybe a smidgen of fiber and vitamin C if you're lucky.

  2. if you're lactose intolerant how did you eat the cheese sandwich?

    i'm an advocate of more vegan options in schools, such as plant based milks…and am mortified that french fries and tater tots count as a vegetable. i was livid when watching an ep of 'food revolution' that jamie wasn't allowed to serve brown rice in lieu of bread. um, huh? last i heard they're both from the same 'whole grain' box on the usda's food pyramid guidelines.

  3. I can not believe how carb heavy that lunch is – Sandwich, tater tots (yes, I know they are counted as a "veg"), pretzels! Where are the real veggies and fruits? This is where we are going wrong with school lunches.

  4. Who is planning these school lunches? Bread, potatoes, pretzels…that is one seriously starchy meal! My son's school recently had a (grilled)cheese sandwich on the menu. It was served with tomato soup (as God intends!), dill pickle spears, and peaches. But I think they did have to eat the soup with a spork, which my son calls a "foon" just to be different.

  5. I think it's interesting that you can eat a "cheese" sandwich even though you're lactose intolerant. What does that say about the cheese?

  6. I'm with Shakira, how do you eat the cheese if you are lactose intolerant? I would never think to pair pretzels and tator tots as a side. News flash people! Tator tots nor their friend the french fry are vegetables! So annoying!

  7. Today the school I teach in had

    Taquito-type things (We call them Crispitos)
    Refried beans
    Nacho Cheese, chips and salsa
    Shape Up Bar (like the icee)
    "Salad" (shredded lettuce)

    and on A la carte we had popcorn chicken.

    Some students get both, some only get a la carte, and some eat both plus seconds of the school lunch. (Yes, we serve seconds to the high school). I just thought that was a lot of food, and am almost certain that the school lunch people would have a hay day with the things we serve our kids.

  8. Ugh, there is that cheese sandwich again. Tots and pretzels? The whole of it seems really unbalanced.

  9. Potatoes would be fine if they were served with their skins, tossed in oil and roasted. Include some sweet potatoes and red peppers in the roast. Way better than tots or fries. How could a whole potato be more expensive than a processed, ingredient laden tater tot?

  10. Frustrating that an ingredient list isn't available from JJ Snackfoods for the juice bars, just the fruit bars they sell at stores that have whole fruit pieces. Interesting the the school switched what they were offering, but kept to the same supplier. JJ provides both the Minute Maid stuff and Whole Fruit. I still don't get how pineapple+apple=orange unless the equation should read pineapple+apple+artificial flavors+PROPRIETARY=orange. Strange math… Maybe we need a law that says potato "white parts" does not equal anything vegetable-like. In fact, potatoes are not considered by the NHS as counting towards the five portions of fruit and vegetables in a normal diet. The UK gets that potatoes have little vitamin value, why don't American systems?

  11. Just an idea I had here. The nutritional standards that school lunch is based on should switch to the same classifications that diabetics use on the glycemic index. No, most kids are not diabetic, but using their classification results in a much more ballanced meal. Under that system (from what I understand, I am not diabetic myself), items are classified on what they contribute to the meal, not what they are botanically (or legally, in the case of tomatos). No more potatoes as vegies.

    Also, at Shakira, it wasn't that he wasn't allowed to serve the rice, it was that the lunch required two servings of 'grain' that the rice did not meet. He had to serve both.

  12. I think this is one of the worst lunches you've had yet! I work in private schools so I dont have to consider the National School Lunch Programs requirements of "2 breads" etc so I dont really know what they are or understand them. But as a nutritionist this meal is horribly unbalanced. It is so heavy in carbs and saturated fat (dont jump on me, Frogfarm), while being light on protein and phytonutrients.

    I am with Anonymous@6:57pm: Who is planning these menus!?!?!?

  13. Cheese sandwich? That is pathetic, basically no nutritional value and the meal has no color.

  14. Cheese is low in lactose. Hard cheeses have very little lactose as does yogurt and butter. Processed cheeses have more lactose, but I guess that because I'm eating it with other foods it lessens its impact. If I had milk straight, ice cream, or a milkshake I'd be in hurting.

  15. Potatoes PLUS bread PLUS pretzels equals kids that crash about two o'clock once the quick carbs burn off…

  16. Thanks for your crusade. I would never eat that stuff! I have a super hyperactive gag reflex and just looking at your photos makes me gag! What is amazing about this lunch is there is NO fiber! And then the cheese (fake I'm guessing) isn't contributing to bowel regularity either! All super processed foods. I appreciate all of your links especially MOM INC. Great outline on how to start as a parent in my own school. You rock!

  17. This is really interesting. School lunches were AWFUL when I was in school, and that wasn't all that long ago. Ketchup counts as a vegetable, too, (at least in Oklahoma) I guess because you have to have two veggies. That way the tater tots or fries (which were available every day) plus ketchup = two veggies. Every day there was a regular meal, plus two alternatives which were pizza or hamburgers. Shudder. I'm interested to see how your year goes.

  18. I'm a registered dietitian that works at a large school district, so I thought I could offer you an explanation of the "bread rule." There are two main menu planning systems schools enrolled in the National School Lunch Program can choose from, Nutrient Based or Food Based. Schools that choose nutrient based must meet set nutrient standards while schools that choose food based must plan their menus based on food groups. Both systems are outdated and don't really make sense. With food based, you must serve two bread components at lunch. You are all right, it is excessive!!! On Jamie Oliver's show, they could have told him to just serve more rice rather than adding the hamburger bun, but I guess if he had done that, he wouldn't have called out the system on its shortcomings.

    FYI, a lot of lactose intolerant people can handle cheese (most cheeses are lower in lactose than other dairy products)

  19. EW. I would never pack that much bread/carb/starchy stuff in my kid's lunch.

    He's also lactose intolerant. Depends on the cheese if he can eat it. 🙂

  20. I'm glad the Icee was 100% juice. As far as the orange/apple question though, my picky eater would definitely eat it if was marketed as "orange" (despite the apple/pineapple juice). He would NOT eat it if it was labeled apple, pineapple, or any combination thereof. Dealing with his pickiness is really difficult, so I would be happy to call it "orange" if it gave him the desire to ingest anything 100% fruit related!!

  21. I am the same way as you, I can eat cheese, but milk makes me sick, in fact it makes me sick just thinking about milk. Eewwww….

  22. I am wondering how many parents on here who complain about the lunches have ever volunteered to help in the cafeteria? By making yourself helpful the lunch coordinator would be more likely to listen to your suggestions. Come see what the kids are eating and what they throw away. Not saying they couldn't learn better eating habits but at my school we have parents who actually deliver a happy meal daily to their children

  23. Holy cats! Two slices of bread with processed cheese food, pretzels and greasy tater tots and a fruit drink. Now that's what I call the most un-natural "food product", carb overload. How can that be a meal?

    That's got to be one of the worst ones yet. Would have been nice to see some apple or orange slices, maybe even some canned peaches or something with a whit of nutrition in it.

  24. Well, the 100% fruit icee is a start. If we could just get them to replace the tater tots with a REAL (non-starch) vegetable (even canned green beans would be an improvement!) and do away with the pretzels (there are already two bread/starch servings in the sandwich,) it would almost be balanced.

    I did not say it would be appetizing, though …

  25. Responding to "Anonymous," a few parents actually did try to volunteer to help out in our elementary school cafeteria but were told "Thanks, but no thanks." Also, our district has a food service contract with Chartwells, so being in the school doesn't really have an impact on the menu (other than actually getting to see what is being served). — we'd have to take any suggestions or requests to a higher level.

  26. Wow! I still can't believe that the tator tots count as a veg!
    Is the cheese sandwich on white or wheat bread? I am guessing white but one can hope!

  27. But what color would they dye it if it was apple-pineapple???

    Orange is far more fun.

  28. Wht not whole foods and a balanced meal for kids? A balanced meal includes high-quality proteins which excludes soy products, saturated and monounsaturated fats, and non-starchy vegetables.

    Here's a rule-of-thumb: If it can only come from an industrial processing plant, don't use it as food.

  29. I agree with Anonymous @ 8:06 A.M.

    What if parents even came in and ate a school lunch with their kids–would they consider it appetizing/edible?

    I remember in elementary school, we could volunteer to help the lunch ladies by serving the lunch so that the lunch ladies could handle the cash register. There were usually 3-4 kid helpers and we each had a huge tray of food in front of us that we dished out on the disposable plates. Even then, i opted to be the helper instead of a receiver of this food because it looked and smelled horrible.

    Fries and tater tots counting as vegetables…what has happened to this country?? Even the 2 servings of bread– what if they changed this to a whole grain option instead of the plain white bread?? At least then the kids are getting a little fiber and something healthier in their meal.

  30. Surely if processed cheese product can count as a meat equivalent, they can make potatoes count as a bread equivalent, even if potatoes are "technically" vegetables.

    I wonder if tomato soup would count as a vegetable. That would be a nice substitute for the tots. Though I have a feeling soup would be really hard to eat with a spork.

  31. Good lord. I wonder if someone in Icee land is paying attention and decided to make a change, or whether it was merely a coincidence. I notice the food is all beige and brown. Where did the people who make the dietary decisions for these children go to school? No fresh, leafy greens–too much trouble, one assumes. No color whatsoever–again, too much trouble? Greasy tater tots, greasy cheese sandwich. No wonder our children are obese.

    As ever, I give gratitude for your staying power and your inspiration to start this in the first place. I wonder how this diet is affecting your teaching in the afternoons and overall?

  32. Weird about the flavor disguise on the fruit icee.

    And tator tots do NOT count as a fruit/veggie.

    But at least there was an improvement in the icee department!

  33. Disgusting photo! I am curious about the ingredients in the "icee". Did it have high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and artificial flavors? As far as it actually being apple and pineapple juice, I enjoy Orange, Peach, Mango juice from Dole but the ingredient list surprised me….water, apple, orange, pineapple, peach, grape, mango, citric acid, natural flavors, ascorbic acid. Why is apple the first fruit juice ingredient???? Oh well, at least it doesn't have HFCS!

  34. That is such a brown lunch!

    A school I was observing at once served deep fried veggies (like green beans and okra) to try to entice the kids to eat them. I don't know how well it worked, but I think it defeated the purpose of veggies at all.

    Also, this school was very low income and I have to guess that many of the students don't get fruits and veggies at home so they should be provided at lunch.

  35. After all the other lunches.

    My fav's are in order.

    The pizza!!!!

    Then the cheese sammy!!!

    And then the salisbury steak!!!

    I wish I was a kid again.:):::

  36. This is a terrible looking lunch. All starches except for the juice and cheese (which is most certainly not real cheese, but rather processed cheese product). Couldn't they at least have added a real fruit like an apple or pear to redeem it a little bit?

    Are these cheese sandwiches served hot or cold? It seems weird to me to serve a (fake) grilled cheese sandwich in sealed plastic. It would get soggy and nasty. But equally weird to serve a cold grilled cheese sandwich! If they want to serve "hot lunches" why don't they just served real cooked food like pasta or rice, rather than trying to serve hot sandwiches wrapped in plastic!

  37. I remember getting these types of lunches in school. Mom did her best packing lunches when I started elementary but sometimes I wanted to be like the other kids, sometimes I got tired of sandwiches. Mainly, we were both tired of me losing lunch boxes. Anyways, even as a 6 or 7 year old, I knew that a meal, such as the one you show here is lacking. When I was that young I would question why there was no veggies. Now I have to explain to my fiance, who is happy to eat rice, potatoes, and meat why there is something wrong there. I'm so glad you're shedding light on these things, they try to get away with not providing our kids with the foundation they need.

  38. All I think when I see that photo (and many of the photos you post) is: "Where is the color!?!?" That is one beige/brown plate of food there. There are no leafy greens or bright red apples or dark purple berries. Gah!

    Thank you for your blog. You have really made an impact on me. I was allowing my son to purchase a meal at school about once a week. He likes to get hot lunch and he saw it as a fun treat, but I just can't bear it any longer. Every time I even think about it I shudder, and then I shove extra cucumbers and carrot sticks into his lunch bag. LOL!

  39. Wow! This lunch is even worse than the lunches that are served in the school where I work!I do lunch duty for Kindergarten. Today we had breaded "fish" sticks, rice, some "green" vege that was more yellow than green, chocolate pudding, and half an orange. ONE Kindergartener ate the fish. Mostly they started with the chocolate pudding and then stopped eating. The most I can do is encourage them to "at least drink your milk!"
    Then I have to let them dump the food and line up for recess because they get only 20 minutes to eat. By the time the last ones have gotten their lunches there are only 10 minutes left. I pray for a change soon.

  40. The thing is with those "extra" fruit juices is…

    they aren't really those fruit juices anymore. See, some companies put that juice through deionization, which is basically an expensive way to make sugar water. Why do this, you may ask?

    So they can still put 100% juice on the package.

    The general offenders are white grape juice and apple juice. If you see those on fruit products not touted to contain those, little red flags should go up.

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