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Blogger Mrs. Q is fed up with quality of school lunches

Mrs. Q, anonymous for now, is a young mother and an elementary school teacher in Illinois who for the last few months has been eating school lunch every day and then blogging about it. Her goal is to draw attention to the processed, packaged, county-fair-type food we're feeding our children in cafeterias across the country. • She blogs at fedupwithschoollunch.blogspot.com, she tweets as @fedupwithlunch, and people are starting to notice. She appeared on Good Morning America March 25.. The buzz is partly due to good timing: Congress is mulling over the Child Nutrition Act, and Michelle Obama is focusing on school lunches in her anti-obesity efforts. • "I'm not a hero, but I am a whistleblower," Mrs. Q wrote on her blog in January. "But instead of calling a 'tip line,' I've shouted it to thousands of people. • "Oops."

School lunch at my school/workplace always comes in these strange little packages. I have to say that it is very hard to open them. I have to stab them with the spork multiple times. The only reason I mention that is that if you have fine motor issues, it would take you awhile to get everything open. The kids get 20 minutes to eat including getting through line and clean up.

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I thought I might lose weight on this special "diet," but after work today I was ravenous and ate some Pringles, which I normally do not eat.

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This lunch was better than other lunches in that there was more protein and I wasn't as desperately hungry after school like I have been in the past. But overall it still isn't enough for the kids who eat this one meal at school and that's it for the whole day. There is significant poverty at my school and some of the kids are very thin (and others are very, very chunky). No matter what size you are you should be able to eat healthy at school.

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The fruit cup was partially frozen. I did attempt to eat it.

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Also you can see the pizza in the background. It's got a glassy film on top, which is called cheese. The cheese has separated into two layers, the Saran wrap layer and then the under layer.

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The bagel dog tasted better than it looks. There should be more than six tater tots, no? The fruit cup was not frozen!

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Today's menu: peanut butter and jelly graham cracker sandwich, apple juice, fruit cup (peaches), milk.

I could barely eat this meal so I didn't. And then I was deliriously ravenous driving to get my little one.

And then it got worse.

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I've eaten more pizza in the past few weeks than I've ever eaten in my life and I've never disliked pizza more. Ironically, when kids see me in the hallway taking my lunch back from the cafeteria, they exclaim, "Pizza! Yes!"

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I was a little shocked by the list of countries that "may" have provided "products" for the juice.

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I forgot to grab ketchup so that made it a little more difficult to get the burger down. I was offered a white or wheat bun.

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About 30-45 minutes after lunch one of the students I interviewed seemed to "crash" physically (some tears about a minor offense from a classmate). This same student seemed pretty spaced out. What are we doing to kids?

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Check out the ingredients in the ketchup.

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Weirdly, this is the first time I thought the pizza was fantastic! I liked the flavor and the texture. What happened??!! Is it that my taste buds are changing?

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I think somebody is trying to be creative with the "rib-b-que" meat (the illusion of variety), but the kids aren't fooled. I asked one of my students "What did you have for lunch today?" and he replied, "A hamburger."

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I love Japanese food. So when I stabbed the plastic covering with my spork, I was surprised that the aroma smelled like teriyaki. But upon biting into the chicken, it did not taste like teriyaki sauce.

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Let's review what my students have on their plate (pun intended):

1. The school lunch that you have seen me eat for two months.

2. The only opportunity to run around: a once-a-week gym class.

3. No recess.

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In the picture it looks like poo. It was not poo!

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After work I chatted with my mom about it and she thinks they are collard greens. Frankly, it looks like spinach. But I'm not sure it was. All I can say is that this was the first time I could not finish my veggies during this experiment. I had three bites of the most bitter greens I have ever tasted. Can someone enlighten me as to what I ate?

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That brief spell where I liked the pizza is over.

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Looking over the school lunch menus, it's amazing how nice the meals sound when you read their names. The images conjured up by "chilled peaches" or "turkey bagel dog" or "pepperoni pizza" are very different than what I'm eating. Talk about "doublespeak." How are parents to know?

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There are some things you spend extra money on and that would be this nation's kids.

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We need to make the long-term investment in children. We need to fund education. We need the best teachers. We need to feed students the best food we can find so that they can reach their potential as leaders. We are the U.S.A. after all! We act like we are the best, but look at how we fund education and school lunches. Do we really value children?

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It bothers me to see that nothing has changed in the 15 years since I was eating in the cafeteria. It kills me to know that this is the only food some of my students will eat today. It ANGERS me to realize that they've reached an age where they KNOW they should be eating better, but their family's financial situation is such that they're powerless to change it.

These students, the 74 percent of children in this city whose families cannot afford to feed them lunch, if anything at all — these students KNOW that they're getting shafted. It's time we speak up. It's time we demand change. It's time we help those who can't help themselves.

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Blogger Mrs. Q is fed up with quality of school lunches 04/03/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 2, 2010 3:39pm]

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