Day 130: chicken parm, white bread, and PACK

Any guesses?

Chicken parm!
Today’s menu: Chicken parm, carrots, breadstick, applesauce.
What happened to that chicken? It was hardly appetizing when I looked at it through the film. Then I opened peeled off the plastic and just shrugged. I shudder to think how many main entrees went right into the trash. Unfortunately I can’t be in the lunchroom with the kids to observe everything that happens during lunch. I’m in my room eating the lunch and taking a picture, which I couldn’t do out in the open. (Next year I’m going to spend more lunches with the kids in the cafeteria since I won’t have to hole myself up in my room.)
This was not an easy lunch to choke down. In fact, I was a little nauseous after eating it…
I started at the non-burnt side and worked my way in…
I didn’t eat the breadstick (or what I now like to call them: bread tampons). I couldn’t. Although the menu notes “soft breadstick,” on the hard/soft spectrum, I rate them as “chewier than ought to be.” I’m betting the kids probably didn’t have a chance to take more than a bite due to time restrictions.
I don’t think white bread offers any benefit and other people agree. In fact I was told that white bread is so processed it would better for you to eat a spoonful of sugar than to eat a piece of white bread because the processing is worse than the sugar (sorry, no citation for that quote, but if you find one let me know). To make white bread, wheat flour is stripped of the wheat germ and bran (the good stuff), bleached with chemicals that do leave residuals, and vitamins are added back by spraying them into the mix (enriching). Then everything is baked into a loaf and you eat it!
Keep in mind that just because a loaf of bread is brown, it doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been bleached. Many times “caramel coloring” is added to make consumers think a piece of bread is “whole wheat” when it’s not. Many people say avoid enriched flour.
And if that was not enough,
the applesauce was frozen…
A reader emailed this to me:

P.A.C.K: Pack Assorted Colors for Kids is a national healthy-eating program that not only encourages children to eat more colorful fruits and vegetables, but gives them (and parents!) the tools to help make it all a little easier.   This is all part of Welch’s commitment to get more produce in kids’ diets.
It’s so simple for parents to get started.  
Each day of P.A.C.K is assigned a color (Monday is purple/blue, Tuesday is white/tan/brown, etc). Moms and dads ask their kids to choose corresponding fruits and vegetables to buy at school or “pack” in their lunch or snack on that specific day.  The interactive site offers parents and kids tons of downloadable information, printable posters and signs to hang at home, word games, coloring sheets and more.
The PACK program is a collaboration between Welch’s and Produce for Better Health Foundation
It’s self-promoting of Welch’s, but I support getting more kids to eat fruit and veggies. I think what bothers me is that the program unrealistically asks the kids to buy fruits and vegetables at school, which implies both that the kids have money and that there is choice. Most schools don’t have a rainbow of veggies available for the students because it’s cost prohibitive. Most of my students don’t have money in their pockets that they could use to buy veggies.
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13 thoughts on “Day 130: chicken parm, white bread, and PACK

  1. OMG – a bread tampon? Now that is an image that will be forever etched into my brain…

  2. Besides the obvious, shouldn't chicken parmesan be served with pasta? I'd never pair it up with carrots and applesauce at home.

    Maybe that's another layer of the problem, the combinations are just unappetizing. They have some seriously weird main dish & side dish pairings.

  3. I love that even on day 130, you still have a sense of humor. That is no chicken straight up just got a chicken round with sauce. At this point, have you looked at your school district's food services budget to see how much they are spending and on what? I'm not sure the whole dollar is being spent. It may be time to go to a school board meeting. If it makes you feel any better, I still hit a brick wall everyday on the food front down here. Last Friday, my son "won" a box of Nerds for behaving. Yaaaaay.

  4. This is exactly why I pack my son his lunches – this way I can make sure that he gets his protein, veggies, and fruits. And I can add sweet treats sometimes – but I can watch the portions so that he's not loading up on sugar and heading back to class all hopped up.


  5. My daughter would have eaten the bread and the applesauce, and tossed the remainder of the lunch.

    I generally pack her lunches. Today, she has leftover flank steak (cut into bite-sized pieces, warmed and packed in a thermos), edamame in the pods, carrot sticks, an apple, and some dried seaweed (nori). She'll probably save the apple or carrot sticks for a classroom snack.

  6. Bread tampon… Hahahaha!!

    Besides the obvious (no parmesan, no pasta), shouldn't chicken parm be made of chicken? That doesn't look like chicken.

    You must have been hungry after this lunch once you got over the nausea – basically you just had some bites of the "chicken" and a small dish of cubed carrots. Bon courage, Mrs Q! A couple of months more to go.

    I agree about the flour. These days I have been baking almost everything, even cakes, with whole wheat flour, sometimes on its own, sometimes mixed with unbleached white flour. I stopped buying bleached white flour and now I am used to unbleached flour I find the bleached stuff looks too weird – unnaturally and unnecessarily white.

  7. That whole meal looks unappetizing! I don't think I could have stomached eating the burnt "chicken parm". I work at a school – a university – and the offerings here are not much better, but at least there is always a salad bar.

  8. eww…

    At least that one is over with.

    Thanks for the info on white bread. I always check ingredients when I buy bread, but mainly I find the brand at my grocery store without high fructose corn syrup in it. I say brand, because so far I've only found 1 on the huge wall of bread options. The package says whole grain, but I never double checked to see what was bleached or enriched.

  9. P.A.C.K. and Welch's seem to be under the impression that school kids carry their own American Express cards and eat lunch at a restaurant that offers a rainbow of freshly prepared appetizing fruits and vegetables every single day. What planet are they on?

    I've heard of twice cooked pork and refried beans, but this is the first time I've seen twice incinerated "chicken" patty and re-desiccated breadstick.

    Sarcasm aside, it breaks my heart to see this lunch knowing that a lot of kids won't have a filling nutritious after-school snack and a delicious hot dinner provided to them at home. The P.A.C.K. and Welch's folks need to have lunch at your school, Mrs. Q.

  10. The breadstick seemed familiar looking. Then you said bread tampon, perfect description. I've been following your blog for awhile and maybe it's just the mood I'm in but this is one of the worst lunches I've seen. If all the lunches were as overcooked (burnt) as yours or frozen like the applesauce, at best the kids would only be able to eat the carrots. So sad.

  11. I started buying whole grain bread from a bakery a year ago and never looked back. It tastes amazing and any kind of grocery story bread, even the premium whole grain kind, just does not hold a candle to bakery fresh bread.

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