Day 89: pasta

Today’s menu: pasta with meat sauce, peas, breadstick, fruit jello

I know that many schools are done or almost done. Just so you know, I still have a couple more weeks. When I’m done with the school year, I’m going to need a stiff drink. Who wants to take me out for a shot or two? I’m not much of a drinker, but I may have to make an exception.

The pasta tasted good, but I took a closer look at the meat and now I’m not feeling as supportive of this dish. I assumed it was regular ground beef, but there were little chunks in there that appeared almost chopped. Take a closer look at the photos and tell me what you think.

Taking an informal poll, most of the kids don’t like the pasta. That bums me out because it is closer to actual food in comparison to other processed food items.

I ate the peas, breadstick and fruit jello. I clean my tray these days.


Jamie Oliver talked about getting his Titanium Spork Award in his latest Food Revolution video released this afternoon!! I was so excited to see my spork made it across the Atlantic and into his hands. I wrote him a little note too, but now I forgot what it said. I’m happy that you guys voted for Jamie because I think he is a great advocate for children, their food, and their health. How many people do you know putting their reputation on the line for kids’ health?


Aside from an open thread for tomorrow, I’m taking a vacation. On Memorial Day I’ll be thinking about the sacrifices made by American men and women, including my family and friends. Regular posting will resume on Tuesday (although I will be tweeting a little over the weekend). There will be more school lunches to eat next week!


I hope you had fun skipping today. I skipped AND tap danced. So there. I really need this vacation to make it that final push forward to finish the school year.

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19 thoughts on “Day 89: pasta

  1. Mrs Q please enjoy your time off1

    I am not much of a drinker either…but if you ever come to Perth Western Australia, please let it be known, and I would LOVE to take you out on the town!!

    Watching this post has become a part of my everyday life. I am heavily involved in this issue here, and your site just opens the door to so much information and valuable perspectives.

    We would certainly have a lot to talk about while we got bombed! 🙂

  2. My guess is it's a mix of real ground beef and textured vegetable protein (soy), which is probably used to stretch the ground beef and make it somewhat leaner. I think some of the frozen dinner makers (Lean Cuisine, etc.) use this combo in their foods with meat sauces.

  3. My first thought was actually, "Now this looks like something I'd be happy to eat." Aside from the fruit jello cup. Fruit jello is disgusting. And after reading further about the meat's texture, I'd probably have to pick out the meat from the sauce. I hate it when they use meat sauce for pasta. It screws up one of the few good meals the vegetarian kids could get from the hot lunch line. Using a big, easy to pick out, meatball or two would be a better alternative.

  4. Mrs. Q – you work with elementary age students, right? If you are interested, ask if they would eat the pasta plain? So many students ask for it that way. Not sure if that's better than not eating anything or not, if they only take the pasta? Just was curious if that's a common thing.

    We serve as many things "separate" as we can (we cook on site, so I'm able do that). Try to get the students to try some things – like the sauce – on the side.

    The hamburger could be a beef/soy combo, or simply look different in texture to you because the burger was cooked in a larger batch in commercial equipment, not a little at a time in a frying pan. No way of knowing.

  5. My youngest will only eat pasta plain, he likes his veggies and fruit raw and on the side. None of my family likes meat sauce, hubby and oldest daughter like big meatballs and my middle daughter likes pasta and sauce only please.

    I think the problem would be reheating the pasta without sauce on it. It would dry it out, so that may be why they insist on the sauce. Of course, they could just cook on sight and serve it into a plastic tray with real silverware (like when I was in elementary school!).

  6. Hi Mrs. Q,
    If you are in the Boston area, I would love the honor of taking you out for a drink or two. Or maybe some green smoothies? 🙂 I have been reading your blog a little after you started and really admire all you have done and also for how you have gracefully stepped into the limelight. The world needs more people who want to do their part in making changes because those small changes have great ripple effects. I wrote a blog post about Fed Up With Lunch earlier this month highlighting your blog and my thoughts on it. I am a holistic health counselor and in addition to counseling clients, I hope to visit a local school and teach the students good from bad food and start the education locally. Here is the link to the post:

  7. I think a very, very long walk would do you some good after eating 89 of those meals! I'm not crazy about the artificially-colored Jello … why not offer a cookie made with whole grains, dried fruit, and hey, maybe even a few mini chocolate chips for dessert?

  8. Spaghetti is supposed to be a "kid food," so I wonder if many kids just don't like that particular spaghetti? However, I know many kids prefer it plain. I liked my noodles with soy sauce when I was very little (we lived in a neighborhood with lots of Korean-Americans), then plain, then I discovered alfredo sauce. I was a starving college student before I learned that pasta with red sauce makes a nice, cheap meal. It's too bad there doesn't seem to be a way for them to get the pasta plain.

    Have you ever thought about taking a picture to show all the trash on your tray once you've finished eating? That would be interesting. Our school food was served out of very large containers and was just put straight down onto our trays. We did not have packaging. I guess that's one advantage that buying had over packing.

  9. When I first saw the picture I got a little excited that maybe that was whole wheat pasta but since yoiu didn't mention it I doubt it.

    I just have to ask though for the last week of school does the cafeteria at your school have the infamous 'manager's choice'? That was always what we had when I was little which was essentially cleaning out the freezers and lunch was different from grade to grade. When it was gone it was gone and they started ladling out something new.

  10. I actually enjoyed the idea of skipping around. It was sort of funny because I had graduation practice, so I skipped a bit when we were practicing procession/recession, to the amusement of people around me.
    I've been reading this blog for a while, and it's really kind of cool. I haven't eaten school lunch for years now, but I did eat it when I entered high school. At my school you have two full line choices (usually offering a couple of choices) and one totally different "grab-and-go" line that offers one container containing one specific quick meal. The menu is pretty much the same each week. When there is pasta, you get to pick from several types, then pick from several sauces.

  11. The meat extender was probable TVP (texturized Veg. protein)or Soy. When my oldest was in grade school that whole lunch might have put her at the pointy end of an epi-pen. From the peas to the TVP and the dye in the jello.

    Yes she is allergic to peanuts too. Lucky for her she has out grown most of her food problems, except of course for the peanuts.

    I look forward to seeing what you come up with for the Summer posts!

  12. My son doesn't like pasta at school, either, because of the sauce-there is just too much of it. He doesn't have the time or patience(being a 7-year old boy) to take apart his lunch before he eats it. At home he usually eats it sans sauce, or with a little less than 1/4 cup to about a cup of pasta, with a good amount of parm. I think alot more kids would eat school pasta if it had less or no sauce, or a meatless sauce.

  13. If you are in the Sacramento area or within an hour in any direction I will take you out for not only one drink but a full-on drink-fest!

    BTW…my son is a high school sophmore and I pack his lunch every day (his choice and mine). It includes a sandwich (whole wheat bread, meat, cheese, light mayo and mustard), apple, 2 string cheese, 2 granola bars and a baggie of crackers.

  14. My cousin and best friend were both employed by Aramark of Philadelphia for over a decade. They are one of the largest suppliers of school and institutional food services on the East Coast. Aramark subcontracts food services to schools, hospitals, retirement and nursing homes, correctional facilities, state and local govts. To put it plainly, Aramark is the British Petroleum of the food industry. If they can get it or do it cheap they will. Bulk items imported from China and South America make up a big part of their business and as you know most stuff from China is tainted and or unsafe. They do not care, it's all about money and my cousin said the conditions at some of their packaging plants are dirty and outside inspectors are 'on the take' to pass them at inspection cycles. Bottom line is don't eat it if it's outsourced from them.

  15. That's fabulous that Jamie got his spork, and he gave you a great mention in the video. Way to go, girl! You are doing a great job. Enjoy your holiday off. . .you deserve it.

  16. I was so tickled yesterday when I got my food revolution email and Jamie was holding his titanium spork…two of my favorites in one video…congrats to almost be done with this school year. Enjoy your summer.

  17. Did you ever think this blog would take off like it has? I mean, look! Jamie Oliver is talking about you! I haven't posted before, but I want you to know that I think what you're doing is brave, fantastic and visionary! Over the past few months I've been reading your blog and it has definitely made me think. I have two year old twins and, already, I'm thinking about what I want them to be eating when they go to school in a few years. I love the idea of bento boxes. That's kind of the way I feed them now, without the cute little separators. 🙂 Congratulations on the success of your blog and I hope you are able to continue and meet your goal.

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