Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Sad, Sad State of School Lunch

image via limonada's flickr set

I had planned to post a few recipes today, but I keep stumbling on little blurbs, articles, etc… about the dismal state of our nation's school lunch program, so I thought surely that was some sort of sign that I needed to talk about it here, no?

First up, let’s take a quick peek at the school lunch calendar from a school in France, courtesy of the lovely Stephanie.

image via stephmodo

With nary a slice of pizza, hamburger, fruit cup or French fry anywhere to be found, these kids are feasting on fillets of salmon, organic steak, green beans, apricots, crème brulee, zucchini flan, organic omelets… The daily costs of these amazingly perfect lunches? Three U.S dollars.

Now let’s take a quick quiz courtesy of Mom’s Rising.

"Which of the following is considered a junk food according to national school nutrition standards?"

A. Hi-C Blast - vitamin fortified sugar water
B. Poland Springs seltzer water - water with bubbles
C. French fries
D. Candy Bars

"If you guessed A, C or D you'd be wrong. Seltzer water is the only item on this list banned as a junk food because it doesn't contain any vitamins or minerals. "

"The USDA's school nutrition standards were developed in the 1970's and are no longer consistent with nutrition science or current concerns regarding childhood health. For example, USDA does not consider candy bars, snack cakes or French fries to be junk foods in schools. USDA standards don't even address calories, saturated and trans fats or sodium."

I can’t decide if this makes me sad or furious…or both. So I signed this petition, and you should too!

Seriously friends, it’s time to motivate…and until things change, pack your kiddo’s lunch...

Other great school lunch related links of late:


  1. Let the record show that I would gladly pay more than $3 a day to eat what those French kids are having for lunch! And how hard I laughed when I read that they are having scallops! I can only imagine the faces my kids would make if faced with scallops at a school cafeteria. (Of course, I can only imagine what we would do to the scallops in the US.)

  2. Couldn't agree more. Have you seen the video of Ann Cooper passionately discussing this topic at TED? You can get to it here, I highly recommend it.

  3. Jessica Ann Cooper is great! just off to watch her piece on TED. thank you!

  4. ooo...i'll have to go check out that video.

    i love the Alice Water's Edible Schoolyard idea. i'm wishing i had more time to donate to our Montessori to try and get one started.

  5. Hi, Joslyn -

    I love this food blog of yours, as much as I love your other musings on SimpleLovely.

    I did want to drop a quick line and share an article about the new Food Director here in Baltimore, Tony Geraci, that is in the latest issue of The Atlantic. He is doing GREAT things here, and as the article highlights, so are others around the country. I guess I share this with you to give you a glimmer of hope and maybe Dallas can find a cool food-guru to run your school food programs!

    I recently visited Great Kids Farm, which is a 33-acre organic farm located off a major road, behind strip malls and car dealerships here in Baltimore. It is amazing, to say the least. It would be my hope that urban farms such as this can be created all over the country, so that children learn where food comes from, the work that is involved in its production and the satisfaction one feels when they pick the tomato off the vine and pop it into their mouth. Maybe something like this can be started in your area!

    Fixing Lunch(The Atlantic July/August 2009)

    The New Meal (Baltimore City Paper)

  6. Kim -- this is great...and does give me hope! thank you so much for sharing!

  7. I am far from kids, but think it's great when ppl recognize how poor those meals are! Their nutrition is essential! Great post, love the information ~

  8. Wow... that's an eye opener. Thanks for sharing and for giving additional links for more info.

  9. And if the petition fails, I'll send my kid to France where she can eat like a queen.

    Really though, thanks for sharing.

  10. There is also a webpage associated with the movie "Food, Inc" that has food safety information and a petition to support healthy food in schools.


  11. holly and matt -- thanks...i'll add it to the list!

  12. Hello Joslyn,

    I could not agree with you more. So much so that my husband and I started a company in Seattle that delivers fresh, healthy fun food to kids schools. My youngest son has celiac disease and with three children and all different tastes as well as one who can not have gluten we launched fantazimo food based in Seattle. We partnered with a food company that supports local food growers and suppliers to deliver healthy lunches to schools. It is convenient for parents and the kids love it!

    We are looking to expand soon to other states so stay tuned. Maybe Texas! Check us out at www.fantazimo.com

    I love your blogs. Thank you so much for sharing your insight, especially on this subject.

  13. Just found your blog--yay! I'm raising a trio of picky kids myself and I wish I could say they get over it but even my 16 year old has fairly limited tastes. However, to his credit, he refused to eat in the high school cafeteria. Sometimes his lunch was homemade soup. Sometimes it was a simple salad or sandwich. I consider it a triumph that he turns up his nose at that garbage.