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Mystery “School Lunch Eater” Will Publish Book

Mystery “School Lunch Eater” Will Publish Book

Would you eat school lunches for a year for fame and fortune?  One teacher did, and now she’s got a book deal under her belt as a result.

Via CNN:

After a year of eating school lunches, Mrs. Q survived to blog about it.

She works at an urban school in the Midwest, where she ate bagel dogs (yes, that’s an entree), yellowish meatloaf and chicken tenders, which she likened to “squirts of chicken foam.”

With spork in hand, her mission was to chronicle the $3 school lunches on her blog, Fed Up With Lunch. Every afternoon, Mrs. Q — who asked to remain anonymous out of concern for her job — photographed the lumps on her orange school lunch tray, and shared her observations about the food and how it affected students.

The blog gained a substantial following and stirred conversations about what should be on kids’ trays. Mrs. Q announced on her blog late Thursday that she will reveal her identity later this year when she publishes a book about the project.

“I just wanted to make a public record of what my students ate,” Mrs. Q said during an interview. “It’s not to target anybody. The lunchroom manager, the ladies and men who are in the cafeteria, they care about the students and what’s the best for them in their lives. They don’t have power of controlling their menus. They’re just doing their jobs.”

Kayla Coleman wrote about the blog early last year, and pointed out that school lunches play a huge factor in the health of our children.

Endocrine Today recently reported that a University of Michigan study proclaims children who eat school lunches are more likely to be overweight and obese than kids who bring their lunch from home. The report says that kids who buy lunch at school are more likely to eat fatty meats, drink sugary drinks, and eat less fruits and vegetables. Our own Beth Buczynski has also written about how Underfunded School Lunch Programs Create Unhealthy Kids.

The link between the meals children eat at school and their weight makes sense. For many kids, school lunches provide the main source of nutrients they get every day. School lunches teach kids what “normal” food is. If tater tots are seen as vegetables, what will they think of a salad? If a kid is regularly served fruit cups laden with high-fructose corn syrup, will she/he ever choose to eat a plain, fresh apple?

In light of the struggle we’ve had even to pass things as basic and the Child Nutrition Bill within the last year, hopefully a new book exposing the shortcomings in school lunches will launch a new and productive discussion on how to really change the way meals are served and help our children be their healthiest.

 

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114 comments

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8:33AM PST on Feb 9, 2011

Good for her to write this book but I won't be reading it as I'm well past school days and don't have any kids. Good article though. Makes you think.

11:29AM PST on Feb 5, 2011

oh yeah and btw when she comes out with the book i WILL be reading it-- i heard a little about this a while back, im glad her book will be done soon-- good luck Mrs. Q!

11:28AM PST on Feb 5, 2011

my kids had to be on the free lunch thing, and me too when i was in school-- as far as i know, my grandson is also-- he hardly ever eats it, neither did my kids, thats why they were always hungry when they got home and he is too-- it was nasty back then when i was on it and is still nasty now! the only good day is PIZZA DAY! wish we could have afforded it, we would have brought a bag lunch, (i was able to sometimes) at least you KNOW what youre getting and you can recognize it!

1:12AM PST on Jan 30, 2011

Thing is, everyone knows that a home meal is healthier than the prepackaged junk, whether that's in the school lunches, Meals on Wheels or the grocery stores...

I'm just not sure why we can't help the economy by creating jobs to have people make home made meals for the school kids. It's inexpensive, especially in bulk, and then it's healthier and tastier. Have two options for the main course, one with and one without meat, to help with the vegetarians who would like a hot lunch. Maybe offer juice packets for the couple vegans to drink.

I used to pack my own lunch all the time. I only ate at school for special occasions.

9:21PM PST on Jan 27, 2011

i always took my own meals from home to school.

12:19PM PST on Jan 26, 2011

apart from the cookie, I don't know what that is on the plate. I pity kids that have to eat that trash, no wonder Mrs Q wanted it published. I'll bet most parents don't have a clue what their kids are eating, thats why mine take lunch in, no nasty surprises!

10:07AM PST on Jan 26, 2011

Forgot to clarify on my last post, the plant-based option would be a healthy option, I was not suggesting that all entrees be bean based. Also, the federal Child Nutrition Re-authorization Act just passed in December. This happens once every 5 years. There will be changes coming from that which will improve things but we will still have to be vigilant about making sure the changes result in real positive changes, and not just revised processed foods. The other thing that is almost never mentioned is artificial ingredients. NYC already doesn't allow these, but most other school districts in the country don't have rules about this. There is no reason schools should be serving food with artificial colors (now proven to cause attention problems), artificial sweeteners (these do not help people lose weight), preservatives (only needed to extend shelf life - we should be serving fresh food), or artificial flavors (needed because the food is so processed it doesn't have any "real" flavor). In addition, schools should not be serving food with trans fats or any added sweeteners, which includes high fructose corn syrup. Kids eat way too much sugar and they can get it at home. Our approach is that schools should practice what they teach, set the best example, support parents efforts to feed kids healthfully, and help those children who may not get the healthiest foods at home by making sure they do at school. There is so much more to say - it's a big topic!

9:42AM PST on Jan 26, 2011

I work for an organization that works to improve school food. In fact we have a link on Mrs. Q's blog. There are several problems that make healthy school food a problem: lack of funding (only 90 cents goes to the food itself, the other money goes to staff and overhead); regulations that favor the food industry (the USDA has to both promotion nutrition and support the food industry, often times this creates conflicting goals); a culture of fast convenience foods partly due to lack of funding and training, and partly due to concerns about food safety. Ultimately, we as parents, educators, and concerned citizens have to stand up within each school district and advocate for healthy changes. How much fat, salt, and sugar are not all we need to be concerned with. We need to advocate for whole, fresh, unprocessed foods. We all know we need more fruits, veggies, and whole grains. But to reduce cholesterol and saturated fat and to increase fiber, we also need plant-based entrees (the main dish) which would primarily be bean and lentil based dishes in order to fit the regulations. That's because cholesterol is only found in animal products and they are the primary source of sat fat. Fiber is only found in plant foods. I hope you'll check us out at www.healthyschoolfood.org

9:23AM PST on Jan 26, 2011

The awful food in schools is not forced on people unless you are on the "Free Lunch" program as it was called when I was in school.
They should not be feeding kids this garbage, I absolutely agree.
You can feed a kid a healthy lunch from home for less than $3. My family didn't have much money but my parents managed to send us to school with a good lunch every day. Don't forget that option. The fastest way to get them to change is to hit them in the pocketbook.

10:42PM PST on Jan 25, 2011

All is not lost. At my elementary school very little of the "foodstuff" they serve is actually eaten by the kids. While many of the kids do come to school hungry, most eat the cookies, or other desert and throw the rest away. Eighty percent of the lunches are paid for by us taxpayers. Shouldn't we just throw our money directly into the trash and save the Styrofoam trays and plastic packaging?

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