Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monday 3/29: Philly Cheese Steak

Menu reads as follows: Philly Cheese Steak on hoagie roll, crispy potato wedges and fresh orange.

What they got: Philly Cheese steak on hoagie roll, crispy potato wedges and whole fresh orange.

I'll start off by saying, thanks to Chartwells for sticking to the menu and also for making sure our fruit basket was full!

The other day when I asked my 5 year old what she wanted for dinner she shouted with great enthusiasm: "Philly cheese steak rolls!" Really?...Not!  In my 5 years as a mother, I have never heard a child ask for philly cheese steak. In my opinion this is another poor food selection for pre-kindergartners. Not only is it bland looking but this meal is all white bread and potatoes! What's with all the bread people? And even more so, what's with the processed 'mystery meat' or 'steak' as they like to refer to it that's all 'dressed up' with some processed cheese?  Indeed a very kid-UNfriendly meal if ever I saw one. Just from looking at it I'd say that nutritionally it is inadequate, unappetizing and not a very well balanced meal for growing minds!  But, I guess we should be happy with the one vegetable, which coincidentally also counts as a starch and one fruit which is at least fresh. I counted 4 out of all the kids eating school lunch actually eating their roll, of those 4, only one ate the bread on the inside and the rest, as you guessed it all landed up in the trash. I believe the stryrofoam trays needed company!

But let's chat about the 'mystery meat' because I am confused. Check out the 'steak' up close and personal:

Doesn't look like steak to me but hey, lets face it, I am a foreigner, what do I know about fake meat?! So, in an attempt to demystify the mystery, I looked up the meaning of steak on www.dictionary.com and this is how they define it:  

  1. A slice of meat, typically beef, usually cut thick and across the muscle grain and served broiled or fried.
  2. A thick slice of a large fish cut across the body.
  3. A patty of ground meat broiled or fried.

[Middle English steike, from Old Norse steik; see steig- in Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Ok folks, I'm guessing that definition number 3 best fits our mystery meat, "A patty of ground meat broiled or fried", but looking at it I am still not convinced that, A. it's meat or B. it's broiled or fried, in fact I'm not quite sure how one would make this stuff. Actually, it looks a lot like lunch meat, but definitely not steak. I am dying to find out what the ingredients are but I can bet you that since it's processed it's preserved and if it's preserved it probably contains sodium nitrites, MSG or some other preservative or flavor enhancer. All I am saying is, is it really necessary??  

 A little update: Last week I met with the food service director who as you know invited me to come and check out their other kitchens and so hopefully this week or early next we'll have a lunch post on how Wallace does lunch. Also on March 24th I emailed Superintendent Carter and the entire school board regarding my findings and also inquiring about a Wellness Commitee. As of now, I have had not one response back. Not so much as a 'Thank for your interest' or 'We will look into it. Nothing. Just silence.
This is the law!!! 

Section 204 of Public Law 108-265—June 30, 2004
Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004

(a) IN GENERAL - Not later than the first day of the school year beginning after June 30, 2006, each local education agency participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C.1751 et seq.) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42U.S.C. 1771 et seq.) shall establish a local school wellness policy for schools under the loca leducational agency. 

In brief, a Wellness Committee is typically and required by law to be made up of teachers, parents, nutritionists, dietitians, food service representatives and also the community. It's all encompassing. The policies are based on nutrition, physical activity, guidelines for all foods and beverages served in school and other school-based activities that promote student wellness. I believe that this committee is integral to happy healthy students, especially in a urban environment!

Can we please get this Wellness Committee started so we can start fixing the things that really matter, like growing healthy, educated and mindful citizens!? 


  1. Looks to me like off-brand Steak Um's (a frozen steak product). Have you checked out the way HOPES runs their lunches? They have a real nutritionist on staff. Quite different from the way Mile Square does it. They might be worth talking to.

  2. This is atrocious. Children shouldn't be forced to eat either bread or potatoes in order to fill up since the meat and vegetables are inedible. That said, they shouldn't be having starches at every meal either!
    Your blog makes me glad that I chose the provider that forces you to send meals in with your children! At first I thought it would be too much work but seeing these pictures and hearing about the lack of response from the administration, I am happy! Please keep exposing these problems.

  3. What a great blog. I've been hearing about it, but this is the first time I've gotten a chance to read it. My kid also goes to St F and I rarely have her eat the school meals (I usually let her have pizza Fridays because how much worse for you can they make pizza than it already is?) but this is just reinforcing that I should keep doing that. Great work.