School Lunches Exposed

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sarah Wu a/k/a "Mrs. Q," Chicago public elementary school teacher, blogger and the author of Fed Up with Lunch: The School Lunch Project: How One Anonymous Teacher Revealed the Truth About School Lunches - And How We Can Change Them!, talks about her year of eating school lunches, from bagel-dogs to "rib-b-que," and blogging anonymously about their nutritional shortcomings.


Sarah Wu

Comments [29]

Juan Rodriguez from Brooklyn, NY

I'm tired of hearing my children complain about school lunches.. My children have told me of raw chicken, burnt burgers, warm milk in refrigerators that don't function properly etc... One of them even had a accident report files because she got burned from sauce being to hot!! (Most likely the 'cooks' left things in the microwave too long...
What can i do as a parent to bring these items to light to the people that actually care and can make the necessary changes. now with new USDA laws passed and more $$ per child going to the schools for this how can we make sure it gets done correctly this time around??... Any help is appreciated!!!

Jan. 25 2012 03:20 PM
L Snyder from manhattan

I should mention that that school that I shouted out below for having good schoo lunches ( Mott Hall II) is a public school.

Oct. 21 2011 01:22 PM
truthseeker from Brooklyn

While there are efforts parents and schools can make to improve the quality of school lunch in NY public schools through a program called WITS (Wellness in the Schools), the DOE still is being secretive about the ingredients in the school food. See this articel
We have a right to know exactly what is in the food our kids are eating and many parents I know won't let their kids eat teh school lunch since it is still a mystery.

Oct. 21 2011 12:30 PM
L.Snyder from manhattan

I taught at Mott Hall II in Manhattan last year and frequently ate the school lunches when I was on lunch duty. Yes, they had pizza every Friday, but in general, the food was good, and nutritional. The kids loved to complain about it. They had a daily salad bar that with lots of fresh vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, bean salads, coleslaw..) which very few kids took advantage of. They always had fresh fruit - which many kids did take. Most hot meals came with some type of vegetable - which was often not eaten by the kids. The food that the kids liked best - was usually what I considered the worst (pizza, hamburgers, pb&j...). I often saw kids throwing away some of the best entrees - such as baked chicken. In general, the food staff seemed to take pride in what they offered, and I think that they deserved to.

Oct. 21 2011 12:16 PM
The Truth from Becky

Oh, thanks!

Oct. 21 2011 12:15 PM
luckyparent from manhattan

Our school has an excellent dining program managed by Flik, however as is pointed out above, the catch is Flik services private schools. the NYPS's serve 1 million meals a day spending around $1 (I can't remember the exact $$ amount but it is LOW) per kid. Parents should put as much pressure as possible on NYPS system while keeping in mind how slowly such a big ship will turn.

Oct. 21 2011 11:59 AM
Vanessa of My Kids Really Eat This from Redding, CT

@Truth from Becky:
The strawberry milk was made with artificial colors and too much sugar. (same colors that are banned in many countries and have warning labels in others)

Oct. 21 2011 11:55 AM
The Truth from Becky

...and what is wrong with Strawberry Milk?

Oct. 21 2011 11:52 AM
The Truth from Becky

Leah, the "not yet a parent" parent, seems to be one of the most logical parents on this board! If you have concerns, pack a lunch for your kid yourself! Whatever happened to this concept?? But, good luck getting them to pull that out in a cafeteria full of kids who think it's not "cool" to bring your lunch from home!!

Oct. 21 2011 11:51 AM
Vanessa of My Kids Really Eat This from Redding, CT

Our school gave up serving strawberry milk when I contacted the school board but they won't give up serving junk food as snacks once they've passed out the lunches-- they make money from the snacks.
Also we fought getting Sudexho out but the board got Chartwell's in and hired back all the same workers; none of which know how to cook, just reheat.

Oct. 21 2011 11:49 AM
Amie from Park Slope, Brooklyn

I teach at a NYC public school for students with Autism. One year I decided to do a mold science experiment with my students. I used slices of bread from the school cafeteria. No mold grew on the bread. We kept the experiment going for three months with zero results! I repeated the experiment with a slice of organic bread, and mold grew in less than a week. I can only begin to imagine how many preservatives are in the bread we give to students to keep it "fresh" forever.

Oct. 21 2011 11:48 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

sewer trout = feces

Oct. 21 2011 11:47 AM
Liti from NJ

...when my daughter was 2 i asked the daycare director why they give the kids hot dogs, pointing to the study that showed correlataion between consumption of hot dogs and childhood leukemia. She said i was right, but kids like hot dogs and parents like to hear that the kids ate their lunch... so i sent soy dogs for my daughter that nancy the cook was very happy to cook for her.

Oct. 21 2011 11:46 AM
Dan from Manhattan

As a parent of a child in public school in Hoboken who eats off the "regular" menu, i can say that both the breakfasts and the lunches are substandard. For instance, where is the balance in a breakfast of a prepackaged muffin and 8 oz of milk?

My niece goes to an expensive private school in Brooklyn and she has a wonderful selection of healthly food...if you don't think this is a class issue, you're fooling yourself.

Oct. 21 2011 11:46 AM
Robert from NYC

I love her off-the-cuff way of dismissing that most consumers can't afford organic chicken. Well make it affordable. You want us all to eat better and you charge outrageous prices for "organic" chicken. Have you seen just this week the organic products that are carrying salmonella?

Oct. 21 2011 11:45 AM
Judy Stadt from Spring Valley, NY

Fed Up With Lunch? A teacher ate a scool lunch daily and what she found out. But I'm sure nothing will be done about our nutrition because $$$$$rules! What will be done about it? Nothing. Because nobody really cares about the kids and their lunches. There are many lessons to be learned by our society's complete disregard of all of our citizen's diets. Many schools could even grow their own, healthy fruits and vegetables in neighborhood gardens and make it part of the curriculum and the kids could learn how to cook them ... this is done in many caring schools. ALL of us are eating foods that are harmful, created by large food production companies that have their hearts in their pocketbooks.

Oct. 21 2011 11:45 AM

The schools need higher budgets -- only in conjunction with active parents.

The budget might come from Health Education.

Kitchens need ovens, and workers who use them.

Oct. 21 2011 11:43 AM

I'm not a parent (yet - due in Jan 2012!) but what about packing a lunch for your child to take to school? Is this not an option?

Oct. 21 2011 11:43 AM
Tenfalyrobin from Tenafly, NJ

the elementary school that my daughter attends has terrific lunches. On monday, besides the pizza that come from a local restaurant, we have a salad bar. The children LOVE it. The fresh ingredients are delivered from a premium local grocery store. Besides veggies there are fruits and proteins like cheese, cooked chicken, garbanzp beans, boiled eggs. We offer only an oil and vinegar dressings from Newman's Own. The entire lunch program is run by parents, however State guidelines are followed

Oct. 21 2011 11:42 AM
john from office

The one thing I saw in the waste basket was Milk. Lots of unopened cartons of milk.

Oct. 21 2011 11:41 AM
Seeking Best Practices from NJ

Do you like your school lunch program?

Name the company!

Caller -- what is the co?

Oct. 21 2011 11:39 AM

mr lander -- any normal child sadly fits this profile.

Oct. 21 2011 11:37 AM

john -- by making it (i'll assume we are talking about the vegetables) good enough to eat. It's sinful what the taxpayer is supporting for these kids to eat.

School lunch is a huge missed opportunity for teaching children about an essential cornerstone of life.

Oct. 21 2011 11:36 AM
mr landers from BK

As a high school teacher I needed to have snacks available because students refused to eat the lunch, had no money to get food out of a vending machine, and would go an entire day without eating. Want to talk about frustration and exhaustion?

Oct. 21 2011 11:36 AM
Erika from Brooklyn

When I was in elementary school about 20 years ago our hotdogs were famous for having a slightly greenish tint. Needless to say they were not a popular item.

Oct. 21 2011 11:35 AM
The Truth from Becky

For some it is the only meal they will eat all day should be full of nutrients...I feel two ways about this story.

Oct. 21 2011 11:35 AM


Oct. 21 2011 11:34 AM
john from office

I went to public schools and I was always shocked at the amount of food that was wasted, not eaten and just thrown away. How do you stop that.

Oct. 21 2011 11:32 AM
This company provides lunches for many NJ schools. "We meet or exceed USDA requirements" in reality the only requirement is minimum protein, nothing about vitamins, freshness, deliciousness, etc. They promote "local foods" by handing out pieces of basil along with the hot dogs (once). Nothing organic, no education about food to the kids. And these are the sponsors of the nutrition and local food conferences! Why don't they serve better food, I asked them? "We can't afford to -- too many of the kids are sent in to school with no money so we are feeding them for free." What do you like about sixth grade, kids? (Unanimous: "The slurpee machine in the cafeteria!") The poor kids come out of sixth grade covered in a thick coat of fat, some of them can barely breath.

Oct. 21 2011 10:16 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.