06 October 2009

Improve School Lunch

A good video made by students. "Our schools don't cook anymore, they just reheat it"...

Last month, there was a good article in NY Times on this issue:
The fight for scratch cooking can feel like guerrilla warfare. In one Brooklyn elementary school, parents declared victory when they got the cooks to boil water and cook pasta.


VisuaLingual said...

That was awesome [but also depressing]. In all my years of public school, I never once ate lunch and only once entered the cafeteria. In high school, our guidance counselor would try to rig everyone's schedule so that lunch was last -- the two benefits were that we were done with school earlier, and the school didn't have to provide lunch. Seeing the meals in this video, I know I didn't miss much.

CityKin said...

You didn't pack a lunch or eat lunch at all?

I ate hot lunch every school day from grade school through high school. Our grade school lunches were decent, but the high school food was awful.

VisuaLingual said...

I didn't eat lunch. In junior high, I spent lunchtime in the library [it was combination of fear of the lunchroom and some vague feeling of superiority over my peers] and, in high school, I got out one period early. In hindsight, it doesn't sound healthy at all, but neither does the food shown in the video.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that the school lunch program was first created in response to what bad shape many of the draftees for -- oops, now I forgot, was it World War I or II? Probably WWI -- were in. I suppose lots of fellows with bowed legs from rickets and the like.

Blue Ash Mom

Catherine said...

Anyone want to start some guerilla warfare with CPS? I'm in.

Catherine said...

The kitchen facilities looked pretty adequate to me. Much more deluxe than many restaurants. My high school cooked lunches and they had no more equipment or space. High school and grade school combined was probably 1,000 students. It is not a question of facilities but labor.

CityKin said...

I was thinking the same thing, when they said the facilities were inadequate. They are not inadequate at the new CPS schools. It depends on the quantity I suppose. In the article they are talking about feeding thousands instead of hundreds.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that most parents don't think there's anything wrong with that food. A group of us tried at my kids' school to improve the cafeteria food and to try to get healthier group snacks for parties, etc. You'd have thought we wanted to bring crack into the school. Another point to ponder, and a link to follow it up: Do kids who have been standing around a t-ball field for an hour really need a doughnut and a Gatorade right afterward?

CityKin said...

^yeah! since when is a snack required after/during EVERY kid-centered event? We never had snack after soccer when I was a kid.

Anonymous said...

My son had a 5:30 baseball game last year and we decided to eat dinner after. I kid you not, the after-game snack was a Little Debbie snack cake. Try getting your kid (and the inevitable younger sibling, because you have to bring snacks now not just for the players but their entire families) to eat dinner after that.

fiona said...

We used to bring sliced oranges to my stepson's soccer games, that was the standard after-game snack. That was maybe 20 years ago? My daughter's soccer games only 3 years ago had salty chips or sugary cookies and juice drinks, not 100% juice.

CPS lunches get a bad rap, mostly because of some incorrect assumptions about ... I don't know. Urban schools? Minority schools? General self-hating angst in our city?

I was part of a discussion recently about CPS lunches and someone posted a lot of very useful information.

Every lunch follows federal guidelines about the amount of fat, protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals etc. in order to receive federal funds. And every district is audited to make sure they're following the guidelines. Recently CPS was faulted for having too LITTLE fat in the menus.

There are no fryers in CPS kitchens--everything is baked (chicken nuggets, french fries, etc.). Breaded items that are baked have soy baked into the coating, giving an extra serving of protein.

Pizza is a whole wheat crust with added soy, low fat cheese and turkey sausage. Hot dogs are turkey dogs with extra soy. The ham on chef salads is turkey ham. The only pork product is the pepperoni.

Fresh fruit is offered at every lunch. Canned fruit is also available in order to get extra servings of certain vitamins but it is packed in light syrup or juice, not heavy syrup.

CPS uses only whole wheat bread, not white. It serves white and chocolate milk because federal guidelines require that two flavors of milk with two levels of fat be served. Both flavors are either skim or 1% milk.

The Wellness policy bars snacks that violate the nutritional guidelines, so only baked chips, 100% fruit juice, Nutrigrain bars, etc. are available.

The CPS bakeshop uses applesauce instead of oil and sugar in their cookies and cakes. (P.S. Did you know that you can buy pies at the holidays from the bakeshop? They're sold at cost because they're made using federal funds. And they are delicious!)

CPS also participates in the federal breakfast program. They offer only cereals that are low fat, reduced sugar, and whole wheat; skim milk; and 100% juice. The Teddy graham crackers are low fat, whole grain, and extra fiber.

I'm not sure why people assume that CPS lunches are crap-ola. It would be wrong of me to speculate. But they're not--they're probably the healthiest thing most kids will eat today. More healthy than what we're about to have for dinner, that's for sure!

CityKin said...

CPS has a bakeshop? Where is this?

I have to admit, in my kids 3.5 years at CPS, I have never seen a lunch. It sounds better than my grade school lunches, which frankly, I loved as a kid.

Funny, my son was telling me that on Sloppy-Joe day he picks the salad to eat instead. I was surprised and asked him what was in it. He described these two pieces of rolled up meat on top that he liked a lot, but he didn't know what kind of meat it was. Turns out it must be the Chef Salad with turkey-ham.

I've wondered a few times how to get the breakfast that is offered. Seems like it is just for kids that are in the before-school care program.

fiona said...

Breakfast is open to everyone; CPS switched to an inclusive breakfast program a few years ago. The trick, particularly with kids who take the bus, is getting there early enough because they close down the line 10-15 minutes before school starts. Call the office and find out about it because your kids can definitely able to participate.

The Bakeshop is at 2135 Iowa Street, open 11-1 on school days. They are famous for their cookies, the chess pie is to die for, and the pumpkin pies fly out the door around Thanksgiving.



CityKin said...

OK, I'm too curious about this. I'm going to the Bakeshop this week and I will report back.

fiona said...

I haven't been in awhile--I'll be interested to hear your experience.