Day 59: meatball sub

Today’s menu: meatballs in sauce, whole wheat bun, peas, peach/pineapple fruit cup, milk (not pictured since I don’t drink it)

I haven’t had this one for a relatively long time! The sandwich wasn’t bad. I could have done without the fruit cup. I still believe that every lunch should get a piece of fresh fruit instead of a fruit cup or fruit “equivalent.” Do you save money with a fruit cup? Can anyone explain that to me?

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39 thoughts on “Day 59: meatball sub

  1. Whoops! Somehow I inadvertently disabled the comments on this post. You are now free to comment. I have trouble with technology every now and then….

  2. it seems like the amount of food really veries each day,like comparing this to the cheese *shudders at the memory* sandwich.

  3. Haha it's okay, I'm not tech savvy either. I've been reading and why are you so against fruit cups? Sure fresh fruit is better, but the cost of fresh fruit that is usually imported and the chance of spoiling before consumption leads to some sense with preserved fruit. I would love there the be some way for a longer shelf-life of fresh produce. I see even the offering of the fruit in some form is better than none.

  4. From my experience working in a school kitchen I know part of the reason fresh fruit can't be served is a school has to have three separate sinks. One for rinsing utensils used to cut fresh fruit, one to wash, and one to sanitize. A lot of schools are not equipped with that type of set-up and that is where the whole fresh fruit thing is stopped. There is also the good ol' excuse that kids won't eat fresh fruit and that it spoils too quickly.

  5. fruit cups don't need washing, they don't spoil as easily, they don't need to be peeled, they are easier to transport without damaging, they are more likely to be eaten (and therefore more cost effective.

  6. I've been surprised that schools aren't moving towards a dried fruit or fruit leather offering when fresh fruit isn't available. Dried fruit retains much of the nutritional value of fresh fruit and is also ridiculously stable with a long shelf-life. As long as you stay away from heavily processed and "crystallized" varieties, sugar isn't an issue.

  7. The saddest thing is that we are all more worried about cost than quality of the food we eat…whether it's in our own homes or in an institutional setting. Fifty years ago American spent about 16% of their income on food, and now it's <10%. There is absolutely no comparison between the taste (and nutritional quality) of fresh, locally-grown fruit vs. "fruit cups," juice, dried, whatever. How many children never taste that?

  8. Ewww I'm sorry those meat balls look horrible. I think that maybe they use the fruit cups because they are easier to store and don't go bad, so less work overall.

  9. Hi Mrs.Q! I didn't have your email so I'm linking to you from here. To your question…money is saved and made on the fruit cup. I've been going back and forth with an ex usda employee/food service contractor…who says we shouldn't be focusing on the food… start with the post from a couple of days ago…it may help explain.

  10. It might seem easy, but it looks pretty clear that at Mrs. Q's school no cooking is being done at all. Maybe they can have some veggie alternative entrees shipped in if they are requested for a specific student, but really, I wonder if they wouldn't just say that they can't be expected to provide non-standard options. And it might not even be so wise to rely on it, as Anonymous @ 8:27 PM points out that there have been labeling problems at her (his?) school. Of course, the threat of a lawsuit over a nut-allergy might convince them to be a little more responsive, but maybe that's just my vicious, litigious side coming through!

  11. Sorry, I mistakenly posted this comment a second time on the wrong thread. Please ignore!!

  12. good lord, you are a brave woman! Those meatballs look dreadful to me, yikes! I wonder how popular they are with the kids, do they like them too?

  13. ACK! Don't even WANT to know what's ground up in those 'meat'balls. I'm thinking 'Jamie Oliver with a Cuisinart and chicken guts' kinda bad. bleh. This is why my daughter, 8, will not eat meatballs from anyone but me; she says they don't taste right. All parts and fillers.

  14. The meatballs, bread and peas all look good. 🙂 All they needed was a fruit instead of a fruit cup and I would of thought it was a satisfactory meal. The last two days seem to have shown major improvement to me.

  15. I like the dried fruit and fruit leather idea kids love those and they are tasty they almost resemble candy so i think the kids might even like those more than just a fruit cup. Im my experience with fruit cups they usually are loaded down in a high fructose corn syrup goop and never taste as good as fresh.

  16. I can't decide which looks worse…meatballs or chili??? Bravo to you to have the courage to eat these foods!

  17. Fruit cup , it could be cost. Fresh fruit is seasonal, weather can make the cost of fruit go up and down.

  18. I know presentation is the least of the school cafeteria's problem at this point, but that lunch LOOKS sooo disgusting! No wonder the kids don't want to eat it.

  19. Wow – I'd never known about the sinks thing, but that's a huge impediment! For us (serving after-school snacks w/ USDA supplies), fruit cups were way easier when it came to matching supply w/ demand because of their shelf stability – we didn't have to worry about keeping things over a long weekend, and they were heavily subsidized b/c dole and other companies would donate things near the expiration date.

  20. I also think the fruit cups are provided for variety. You are unlikely to be served fresh peaches or pineapple, but that variety can be added via fruit cups. Also, are you sure they have added sugar? They can be made with either a lite syrup or using 100% pineapple juice.

  21. Normally store-bought canned fruit would either be in syrup (sugar or more likely glucose-fructose/HFCS) or in "juice from concentrate" (usually apple or pear juice) with no added sugar. Can you tell which type you're getting in your fruit cup? If it's the no-added sugar version, that's not too bad. But I wouldn't be surprised if it's the syrup version you're getting….

  22. Fruit cup pros= don't spoil, store easily, require no extra work. Cons= they usually contain extra sugars (hey, even soaking in fruit juice is extra sugar, cause the fruit is already sugar-full!), preservatives, and are so far from fresh it's pathetic.

    With all the new veggies and fruits hitting the market pre cleaned, peeled and packaged fresh, and with some bit of shelf life, it would be great to see schools moving in that direction.

    And, on the whole wheat bread? Generally, it's going to be packed with high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils at the cheapest end, or, at the very least, stuffed full of preservatives. And any goodness of the "whole wheat" is utterly cancelled out.

  23. For the sake of freshness, taste, and simplicity when fresh fruit is unavailable, why not replace the fruit cup with a dish of (thawed) frozen fruit? I'm sure the kids who turn up their noses to strawberries, blueberries, or peaches would be quite rare. Prep only involves opening a bag, pouring it into a container, and letting it thaw in the fridge overnight.

    Who needs overcooked, over-sugared fruit cups when there's frozen fruit in the world?

    For that matter, still-frozen berries are a great snack when the weather gets hot. They're like bite-sized popsicles!

  24. Carb check: sub roll, yep. Fruit, yep (fresh or otherwise, its all high in carbs and carbs = sugar). Peas, yep… peas are VERY high in carbs, you'd be surprised. I'm insulin resistant so the only thing in that meal I can have are the meatballs, and I'm sure the sauce is full of sugar, too. Carbs cause obesity and insulin issues, its been proven. Because of my diet, my children eat low-carb. Childhood obesity is the furthest from my worries because our school lunch isn't full of the crap you're eating.

  25. Not only do fruit cups usually have sugar…do they actually have any nutritional value? Or are they just a sweet dessert disguised as real food?

  26. Canned fruit is cheaper than fresh fruit, even though there are many fresh fruits that run as low as $.10. Schools like to use canned fruit for many reasons: 1. It doesn't go bad, 2. It doesn't matter what season it is; you can get the fruit year long, 3. It can be less prep work than preparing fresh fruit, i.e. peeling and cutting a melon. And with a fruit cup, it's incredibly easy…no labor required. As a dietitian, I believe children should be offered a fresh fruit everyday and I would be fine if they were never served canned fruit. Canned fruit is not as high in nutrients and lacks fiber. Plus it doesn't teach them what real fruit looks like.

  27. In my "shopping adventures" fruit cups work out more expensive than fresh fruit. I've always wound up eating 3 or 4 fruit cups to get the "full" feeling of a pear, an apple or a cup of sliced strawberries. I know my siblings and my significant other are the same way.

  28. I can't even recall ever having fresh fruit in elementary school lunches in the later 80's. I do remember the canned fruit cocktail, canned peaches and applesauce and how gross I thought the were even though generally "fruit" is my favorite food. I didn't mind the pineapple. The fruit cocktail all tasted the same, the pieces just had a different texture. The peaches were slimy, covered in syrup.

    It makes me sad to realize the lost opportunity. I don't think many people are given the tools to appreciate and accurately seek out real food, starting at a very young age today in the U.S. Fruit cups are seen as substitutes for fruit. Once I figured out how to make fruit leather at home with a dehydrator and any excess in-season fruit (ridiculiously easy!), I wondered why anyone ever accepted fruit roll-ups as substitutes. Then again, if you never are exposed to the actual thing, why would you know to seek it? Once your taste buds become so accustom to super sweet things or super intense flavors of sweetened fruit like things, regular fruit does taste kinda bland. The sometimes predictable and uniform textures of processed foods don't help people appreciate the difference in texture of a fresh apple or the varying tartness and sweetness of fresh berries. When you're used to seeing so much of the same color (brown, tan, yellow, mostly), you don't realize simply how visually appealing a well balanced meal with actual vegetables and fruits can be. We're missing out of the little things in life that can make us much happier in our day to day actions, with a side benefit of not making us so sick.

  29. The way the food is presented (in dirty looking paper containers) looks so very unappealing.

  30. not only would fresh fruit be better nutritionally, but the environment would benefit too instead of all those plastic cups and foil lids.

  31. This just looks repulsive Blaaaah!
    I watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution with my kids, and since the day of the 1st show, my kids have asked me to pack them a lunch for school. So I do, I always thought school lunch was supposed to be healthy seeing as though they had all these guidelines to follow, but it is nothing more than processed sugary crap!
    Why bother having all these guidelines when this is what the schools can get away with serving…..ACK!

  32. It may seem "hypercritical" but here goes. I work in a school. I do lunch duty in the cafeteria for Kinder every day. The school lunches are awful. But…my hypercritical comment is this: The "fresh" fruit is often awful, too. Most kids don't eat it and I wouldn't either. Who thinks red "delicious" apples are good? Not me, and apparently not the kids either. They are TASTELESS AND HARD. They are not "delicious" at all. In general the "fresh" fruit is not very good quality. Some kids will eat the 1/2 orange they are given. Also kids are so used to eating only processed fruit (if ANY fruit at all) that they won't touch the "fresh" fruit. They don't even recognize the canned pear bits and seldom will try them. The canned fruit has added sugar and I don't know if there is any nutritional value in them at all. Maybe just for the energy calories. All this is part of the huge food industry in our country that promotes volume and out of seasonality also.
    It is not only the school lunches that suffer because of the American food industry. We all do.

  33. Oh! I forgot! Just look at all the individually packed portions in plastic. That is an ecological disaster. How long has the food been held in suspension in those containers? Once again, it's all for convenience and some big food company is making the money while the school lunch budget is cut so much that there is no money to pay for "real cooking" by the lunch ladies.
    Of course, we must remember that the majority of the children are not exposed to fresh nutritious food at home because their parents also grew up eating this stuff. Fast food is all those kids recognize and possibly their parents and grandparents, also. That's THREE generations of poor eating. No wonder we have big health problems in the US. I know lots of people will object but I believe nutrition should be part of every school curriculum. And this means children actually cooking and trying foods in the classroom or school kitchens apart from school lunch times. And while we're at it, include the parents in the cooking classes.
    (I must claim that I already had those ideas a long time ago, before Jamie.)Hooray for him! It's about time and I love him for it.If anybody doubts his sincerity, they have big problems.

  34. Ew! Ew!!! The horrors!!!! O.o I'd die just looking at the pictures. You need to get better food there, not something that LOOKS like it can choke a mule.

  35. Wanted to add a clarification to my post earlier. Canned fruit, coming from a #10 can, is cheaper than fresh fruit. Fruit cups on the other hand, can cost around $.40, so in that case, like the cups in the lunch pictured above, fresh fruit is a cheaper option!

  36. Do any schools offer seconds on lunches? I have never seen this happen at any other school before. My school will allow kids to go up and get seconds as long as they have money in their account. Some of the kids in my class get seconds every day!!
    Kids can also buy extras like bags of chips and ice cream. Does this happen at other schools?
    I have been teaching for 15 years and moved from FL to NC four years ago. The school lunches look just about the same as any school I have been at.

  37. Not sure where all you are from but I actually review the lunch programs for USDA, and many schools are beginning to go to fresh, from scratch cooking. The meals I see, for the most part do not look like what is being posted here.

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