Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday 4/27: Guest Blogger: A Small Oasis Of School Lunch Sanity

As promised this week we have guest blogger, aspiring documentary film maker and Mom, Ayesha Ali Ahmed, whose daughter also attends Pre-K 3 -Mile Square School at the Rue Building. Check it's real food!

•••• Would you believe me if I told you that there is a small oasis of school lunch sanity in this mile square island we call home? I almost feel like I’m about to give away a culinary secret, the likes of which food hounds ferret and hide for fear that too many palates will spoil it’s delicate taste.But such is the power of technology, no ‘not so secret’ secret is safe.

Mile Square, the provider that runs the Abbott program at the Rue Building (where my daughter is enrolled) has hit the mother lode of good problems to have. Because they are a mixed use facility (including low income day cares), they don’t follow the School Lunch Program, they follow USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) eligible only to facilities in which 25% of the children receive reduced or free lunch. They further subsidize the lunch (since no one pays) by using funds from their before and after care programs. Like I said, it’s a good problem to have for everyone involved and here’s why. They make their own food in their own kitchen and it’s delicious.

I visited the kitchen this morning, met the chefs, poked my nose around in pantries and freezers and boiling caldrons of beany goodness, took pictures and asked many annoying questions which were graciously answered.
This is a fully functioning kitchen with two local women who get in at 6:30 am and cook from scratch. And when I say scratch, I mean it. The handy man goes out on almost a daily basis to procure the ingredients, meat from Shoprite (always hormone and steroid free), vegetables from a local shop, whole wheat bread delivered from Petcher’s Bakery. And then they do what people have been doing since time immemorial prior to breaking bread, they make it! (They don’t actually make the bread, but they do make everything else.)
 There is one pantry full of juice (they are also offer two snacks) and one of cans of tomato puree and that was all that I saw of anything prepared otherthan the cereals (Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and Cheerios) and snackslike graham crackers, animal crackers and regular crackers. The only vegetables they buy frozen are peas and corn and the only fruit thatthey purchase canned is fruit cocktail (which I see on the menu only once a week) and canned pears (or was it peaches?)

Today’s menu was Spanish Style Rice and Beans, Tossed Green Salad, Wheat Roll, Orange and Milk - all  prepared fresh.
This is quite an endeavor obviously, the menu is rich and varied and accommodations are made for dietary restrictions on a daily basis. What was interesting wasthat today’s meal was entirely vegetarian and when I went up to the classes, it was being happily consumed. The children were sitting at their tables as the teachers and assistants doled out of the food on plates (not styrofoam) and handed out napkins and a real fork and pouredplain milk and water. I’m getting giddy with the civility of it all.

So, how does this magic happen every single day of the school year and more (since Abbot is also a wraparound program)? It happens as much out of choice as it does out of a lack of it. Mile Square could just as well order the reheat and eat junk that others do and save a lot of money and time, but they buyingredients from their supplier US Foods and not food. Do they pay bucket loads of dough for this dough? It’s hard to tell because they get $70,000 to feed 90 children breakfast, two snacks and lunch. How that breaks up is hard to calculate on the fly, but they’ve promised to crunch some numbers for me and let me know.
Forgive me If I've painted a picture that is so soft-focused and diffused that you can't even focus your eyes, but this is an example, albeit small and contained, of what can be done. Fresh food not processed food products offered to growing children. I don't think that that is asking for the moon anymore than I believe the moon is made of cheese, delicious and unprocessed!  ••••

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monday 4/26: Hamburger on W/W Bun

The menu reads as follows: Hamburger on W/W bun, veggie pasta salad, apple

What they got: Hamburger on a bun with veggie pasta, salad, steamed carrots and an apple.

Good news; today we received an additional vegetable, namely the steamed carrots! Honestly, I'm not a fan of just steamed carrots, I think they are much more flavorful and nutritious when served raw, plus I think kids are more apt to eat them when they are crunchy and fresh. That said, I welcome and appreciate the addition. The fact of the matter is that at least someone is listening and is trying to offer the kids a much more wholesome and well-balanced meal. What does throw the balance off though is the white bread AND white pasta, both of which lack any sort of whole  grain or whole wheat as stated in the menu. Also, it all seems like a lot of food for a 3/4/5 year old, don't you think?

OK, let's talk about the hamburger patty which scares me the most. It's commodity beef from the USDA which I have to say, I do not trust! Just yesterday, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who is fast becoming a leading food safety advocate in the Senate, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack urging the agency to include six additional strands of E.Coli as hazardous adulterants that need to be tested by the USDA.  The fact is that the food coming into our kitchens and cafeterias are not properly tested and E.Coli breakouts are still occurring and people are still dying. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 76 million foodborne illness cases occur in the United States every year.  This amounts to one in four Americans becoming ill after eating foods contaminated with such pathogens as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Campylobacter, Shigella, Norovirus, and Listeria. It estimates that there are 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths related to foodborne diseases each year! WOW!

This is what Senator Gillibrand had to say:
“In America, in 2010, it is unconscionable that food is still going straight to our kitchens, school cafeterias and restaurants without being properly tested to ensure its safety,”.... “It’s spreading too many diseases and costing too many lives. The laws that are meant to keep us safe from hazardous foods are in critical need of updating. We need immediate action to keep our families safe.” 
Senator Gillibrand's letter follows another recall on Friday April 21st. The USDA recalled 135,500 pounds of beef trim products!  Seriously, this puts me off any and all beef products. Sounds extreme? Maybe, but you know what, I'll survive without eating beef, question is, will you?

Onto some great news: tomorrow I will feature a guest blogger mom who will be reporting on the school lunch served at her child's pre-school here in our district. Can't wait to see how other schools are doing it in Hoboken!

Also, we have finally opened up the dialogue with the school district and they have stated that they hope to have a working and functioning Wellness Committee in place within the next school year! Yeah! Let's get to work!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thursday 4/22: Chicken Parm

The menu reads as follows: Chicken parm with pasta, Caesar salad, Garlic bread, Orange

What they got: Chicken patty parm, caesar salad, garlic bread, orange

This is one of those meals where I say 'what are they thinking?' Two days of Italian food with Pizza friday looming. The chicken of course was a patty and not actual chicken breast, drenched in sauce and some kind of cheese.

The last time they served this I'm pretty sure it was real chicken breast but I could be mistaken especially since the food service company denied serving our kids real chicken! Strange but true. I laugh now but it is a sad state of affairs!

Today's post will be short again but I did want to share with you some exciting news: Next week I am hoping to have a special guest blogger who will be reporting on the food at H.O.P.E.S - I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

Stay tuned and don't forget Friday is Food Revolution day so please sign Jamie Oliver's petition - If we make enough noise they WILL listen!

Wednesday 4/21: Pizza Sticks

The menu reads as follows: Pizza sticks w/sauce, Green beans, Apple Sauce

What they got: Bread sticks filled with cheese, sauce, canned green beans and apple sauce

So far this week they have had one fresh vegetable one fruit for offered and lunch. I got really excited yesterday with the broccoli and cauliflower medley but today I am not so excited anymore but I guess we need to take baby steps! Change takes time.

I'm still trying to determine what is healthy and nutritious on this plate and how this encourages the kids to eat fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains as stated by the NJ School Nutrition/Wellness Policy

I'll just leave it at that.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday 4/20: Chicken Nuggets

The menu reads as follows: Chicken nuggets, tater tots, seasoned veggie, wheat bread, banana

What they got: Chicken nuggets, tater tots, broccoli and cauliflower mix, wheat bread and a banana.

This is the first meal since my little project started that I've seen fresh broccoli and cauliflower being served in our school! I was definitely very happy to see the kids being offered something unprocessed and un-canned! Maybe someone is really listening!

Today, I also managed to check out the ingredient list on the wheat bread that is being offered to the kids. I was curious to see where our kids were getting their whole grains from and now I know that it's not from the whole wheat bread!

Coincidentally, yesterday in the media one of the topics of discussion was all about debunking misleading food labels. The following excerpt was taken from a piece on Huffington Post: 9 Most Misleading Food Labels: 
The USDA recommends that consumers “make half your grains whole.” Many products emphasize “Made With Whole Grains” on packaging, and even use dark brown colors and deceptive names to indicate a product is associated with the health benefits of whole grains. Unfortunately, most of these food items actually have ordinary refined wheat flour as their main ingredient, as they are not required to disclose the percentage of whole grains versus refined grains.

Although still a vague indicator as to the amount, one safeguard is to check the listed ingredients. Ingredients must be listed in order of predominance, so if something like “Enriched Wheat Flour” is first, but “Whole Wheat Flour” is further down the list, you can be sure there isn’t a large amount of whole grain in the product.
So there you have it, just because it says wheat it doesn't actually mean it's healthy. The kids are more than likely getting little to no whole grains in their daily breakfast and lunch at school. Which leaves one other meal in the day to get all the whole grains they need to support a healthy growing body! Further down on the list you'll notice high fructose corn syrup and bunch of other ingredients I can't actually pronounce. Michael Pollan, award-winning author and one of my favorite experts on food issues has this to say:
If You Can't Say It, Don't Eat It
Don't buy products with more than five ingredients or any ingredients you can't easily pronounce
I've been reading ingredient lists for at least the last two years and there are certain things I avoid completely- as in don't buy the product, ever! On my list so far is:
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (refined and highly processed sugar
  • MSG  (flavor enhancer)
  • Tartrazine (food coloring- yellow)
  • Partially Hydrogenated Oils (trans-fats)
  • Sodium Nitrates (preservative)

A shocking little factoid about Sodium Nitrates:
 Sodium nitrate is used as an ingredient in fertilizers, pyrotechnics, as an ingredient in smoke bombs, as a food preservative, and as a solid rocket propellant, as well as in glass and pottery enamels. The compound has been mined extensively for those purposes.  
WTF? Wow!  This stuff gets around...from bombs to glass to's all the same!

The real hard work is still to come though. My meeting with the district was postponed till next week. This is where we will present our case for the establishment of a the Hoboken Wellness Committee.

Also, just wanted to say thank you for all the great comments some of you are leaving. I appreciate the support and always welcome feedback! Cheers!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monday 4/19: Roast Turkey w/Gravy

The menu reads as follows: Roast turkey w/Gravy, Mashed potato, Green beans, applesauce

What they got: Roast turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, canned green beans, applesauce and milk.

A very bland and unexciting meal. The turkey seems somewhat real and one of the teachers commented that the mashed potatoes where actually good this time!

The lack of a fresh fruit or vegetable is unsettling and the need to establish and really strong Farm to School program in our district becomes very apparent.  I know it can be done because A. it's been done before and B. we have access to many local farmers here in New Jersey. In fact, there should be no excuse for the lack of fresh produce! One argument that has come up is that even if the kids were given fresh vegetables and fruit daily it would all land up in the trash, just as all the canned stuff does. My initial instinct is: I think kids are more apt to TRY fresh produce that looks appealing as opposed to the dreary looking canned vegetables. Also, if we do not present them with the fresh options then how on earth will they even develop a taste for them. An even more compelling argument for me is that I'd much rather support local farmers than huge food corporations that have caused more damage to our health and our earth than they care to admit!

One way to encourage kids to eat vegetables and such is to establish a school garden. There are school gardens popping up everywhere from NY to D.C to Texas to California, why not Hoboken NJ? In fact I think kids in urban areas need these types of initiatives even more than kids from rural areas. Kids here are even further detached from the living world and school gardens can offer them the opportunity to connect with the food they eat and learn valuable lessons. School gardens are also ideal vehicles for teaching across the curriculum, enlivening learning, and helping young people develop lifelong social skills. I believe that the possibilities are endless. Check out what one elementary school in Brooklyn is doing: School Adds Weeding to Reading and Writing- New York Times 

On a different note: Don't forget to vote today for BoE. You can find your polling station on the City of Hoboken website.  Let's see what the changing of the guard brings this time....if there is a change that is!

Have a wonderful spring day all!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thursday 4/15: Baked Ziti

The menu reads as follows: Baked Ziti, green beans, garlic sticks, applesauce

What they got: Baked ziti, canned green beans, garlic stick, applesauce

At the risk of sounding redundant : 'Where is a fresh fruit or vegetable!!?'  Canned green beans, jarred applesauce, pre-made garlic stick and white pasta with cheese and tomato.

I took the following excerpt from the Chartwells link on the Hoboken School districts website:
Chartwells' comprehensive wellness program, Balanced Choices, is in alignment with those of the Healthier US School Challenge and addresses specific areas of wellness policy requirements, including nutrition standards for all foods. Balanced Choices promotes nutritious foods that appeal to children, offering them a variety of fresh, wholesome fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and plant-based protiens
Total disconnect between what they say and what they actually do!  It's depressing and as a tax-payer I feel duped regardless of what the other 2000 kids are being fed. We are talking about 100's of kids in our school district being fed this type of lunch daily! In fact, I found out yesterday that on Monday the kids ate breakfast for breakfast and then again the exact same thing for 'Breakfast for lunch'. I'll read it off of the menu for you:

April 12: Breakfast- Scram Egg Patty w/Hash Brown, fruit or juice, low fat milk
April 12: Lunch- French Toast, Scrambled egg, hash brown, fruit.

Okay, so it's not EXACTLY the same- in addition they also had a french toast stick for lunch! What's up with that? I'm realizing that the reason why they don't offer nutritional information and ingredient lists with their meals is that if we really knew what was in them we would all be totally flabbergasted and disgusted! I know I am. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wednesday 4/14: Macho Nacho

The menu reads as follows: Macho Nachos, crisp tortilla rounds, meat and cheese, lettuce and tomato, fruit

What they got: crisp tortilla rounds, meat with yellow stuff, iceberg lettuce with a small piece of tomato and an apple.

Today, I'm just going to let the pictures do the talking. Bon appetit!

But, I would like to add that I dont think you can call something cheese when it is clearly an imitation diary food. FYI: 2 tablespoons of Cheese Whiz contains 541mg Sodium and you know its salty when even the kids complain that's its too salty!  

Short post today, but just wanted to remind all you to please sign Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Come on Hoboken, let's make some noise!!

Tuesday 4/13: Visit to Wallace and Hoboken High

I arrived at Wallace school at 11am on Tuesday morning as arranged with the food service director. He immediately informed me that word from the school district was that I was NOT allowed to photograph the food. He could not tell me the reasoning as to the districts decision. Later on while at the high school the food service director was called away to a phone call. He then informed me the of the districts reasoning citing legal policies in place regarding the photographing of children. Okay, I am parent and  I can understand not wanting my child photographed, however, they are fully aware that I am not taking pictures of the children but of the food. That evening I attended and Board of Ed meeting where I approached the the school district representative regarding the camera story.  He told me that I did not tell them that it was my intention to take pictures, even though upon my arrival the first thing I was told was, "NO pictures!" Mmmmmm. So they DID know! When I asked the school district representative if he had seen this blog and what my pictures entailed his response was: "This is not all about you!" I'm actually laughing now but at that time I felt quite offended- as if I'm enjoying not having a free moment in my life. Seriously, was that necessary?? Anyway, I'm hoping for 'do-over' and will let you know exactly when that happens.

In the mean time here are few observations:

WALLACE ELEMENTARY: On the menu: Chicken Tenders, white rice, creamy coleslaw, fresh orange, dipping sauce
  • That day they served an additional vegetable: Broccoli :) 
  • They have a small deli bar with cold cuts and assorted cheeses. 
  • The kids have an option to eat the following everyday : Hamburger, cheeseburger, chicken patty burger, fries and assorted pizzas.
  • According the NJ state law the lunch ladies may only serve to the kids what they themselves ask for! Really?
  • They serve chocolate milk, strawberry milk, 1%milk and juice everyday. I'm just wondering whatever happened to drinking water. 
  • Everything served was processed except for the fruit in the basket and the broccoli.
  • The freezer in the basement was as large as most peoples' apartments
  • They prepare 500 school lunches daily with 1 cook and 7 additional prep staff. 
HOBOKEN HIGH: CHICKEN PARM: Breaded Chicken Cutlet, mozzarella cheese and homemade sauce over pasta. Served with roasted italian vegetable, fresh veg and a dinner roll.
  • In addition to the above menu they also serve pizza daily
  • Full deli bar on offer daily with everything from tuna salad to pickles
  • They only serve about 120 lunches daily. This means that the other 400 students are leaving campus to eat out. I wonder how we could get them to eat at school?
Finally, Chartwells has linked all the menus to the Hoboken School districts website.  Click here to access the menus. 

After reading the High schools menu and seeing the food I'm little more hopeful about the food being served. The thing that bothers me is that the the satellite school students are the ones that are really being fed poorly. They are served processed commodity foods on a daily bases with no fresh vegetables- ever! 

I will carry this post on when I'm finally able to take pictures of the food and post it. Please note Hoboken School District: Pictures of the food! I have no interest in photographing the kids!!

After visiting Wallace and the High School I dashed off my daughters school to check up on what they were eating:

The menu read as follows: Chicken tenders, white rice, creamy coleslaw, fresh orange, dipping sauce

What they got: Chicken tenders, white rice, creamy coleslaw, fresh orange, ketchup

I arrived well into their lunch break and so had to photograph a half eaten lunch, so please picture more rice on the plate. That's it. Can't say anymore on this than whats already been said.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Monday 4/12: Breakfast for Lunch

The menu reads as follows: French Toast, Scrambled Egg, Hash browns, Fruit

What they got: A French toast stick, egg round, hash brown patty, fruit in syrup and milk.

I have to admit, I don't really care for this meal. It's processed all the way and lacks anything that is remotely fresh. Some kids got to eat it with syrup - but they thankfully ran out -  that's made from two other syrups. What's with the corn syrup AND HFCS?

A great rule of thumb when buying packaged or processed foods is that if sugar (Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids, Dehydrated Cane Juice, Dextrin, Dextrose, Fructose, Fruit juice concentrate, Glucose, High-fructose corn syrup, Honey, Invert sugar, Lactose, Maltodextrin, Malt syrup, Maltose, Maple syrup, Molasses, Raw sugar, Rice Syrup, Saccharose, Sorghum or sorghum syrup, Sucrose, Syrup, Treacle, Turbinado Sugar, Xylos) is listed as the first two [2] ingredients, it's very probable that it contains high amounts of sugar. Last year the American Heart Association (AHA)  released new guidelines limiting the amount of added sugar considered acceptable for a healthy diet. The guidelines, published in the August 2009 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, also connect increased sugar consumption with a variety of health problems, including obesity and high blood pressure.

The new guidelines state most women should consume no more than 100 calories, and men no more than 150 calories, of added sugar. These numbers average out to about 6 to 9 teaspoons, or 25 to 37.5 grams, of sugar a day. Preschoolers with a daily caloric intake of 1,200 to 1,400 calories shouldn't consume any more than 170 calories, or about 4 teaspoons, of added sugar a day. Children ages 4-8 with a daily caloric intake of 1,600 calories should consume no more than 130 calories, or about 3 teaspoons a day. (In order to accommodate all the nutritional requirements for this age group, there are fewer calories available for discretionary allowances like sugar.) 


How can this meal meet any nutritional standards? The sugar content in the milk alone is already 21 grams never mind the syrupy fruit, the maple syrup, the french toast....! Again for those that don't know, I am not a nutritionist or a dietitian but if I were to eat healthy and wholesome meals for the purpose of longevity and well-being, this one would be on my DO NOT EAT list. And yet, the kids are being served this as a lunch which is is meant to sustain them for the rest of the school day. But according to our Superintendent, there are many kids happily eating these meals- 2000+ in fact !!! OMG! Really? Over 2000 kids are eating THIS! I am so mad and sad at the same time that he is missing the point! In fact, let me post his exact email response received only yesterday to my recent concerns and recommendations which I had emailed to him and the rest of the board on 3/24/10:

12 April 2010
Ms. Moran  - -

Please forgive the tardiness of a reply to your e-mail concerning lunch for your four year old.  I. too, consider your inquiry very important, although during the same time, we were busy putting a budget together ($3 million in cuts and all).  We continue to monitor the situation which you have brought to our attention and the attention of others.

Part of our review is checking with some of the other 2,000+ children who eat lunch happily on a daily basis.

Peter E Carer

Interim Superintendent

That's it. While I appreciate his honesty and the fact that they are monitoring the situation, I'm still left with one thought and one thought only with regards to the 2000+ kids: 'Ignorance is bliss Mr.Carter, isn't it?'  In fact come to think of it he did not even address the real issue, which was to establish a Wellness Committee in this school district. Some of the current board members at least have acknowledged the need for one, however given the timing (school board elections to be held April 20), it's probably something the new board will have to deal with in May. I can understand that. I too want to start afresh with the new board. And yes, I'm sure now anytime anyone mentions how crappy a program is they will just blame it on the budget cuts as if before the budget cuts we had a stellar school with exemplary programs!

Last night I attended an open-forum debate by our candidates running for school board hosted by Bob Bowdon.  The school lunch program is apparently a touchy subject since its been losing money, to the effect of $1,000,000 in one year and then another $300,000 in another year! Apparently an area where outsourcing did not pay off!

Speaking of the outsourced, today I get to visit the great bowels of the school lunch program, where all it happens - the kitchens! The food service director will be showing me around in both Wallace Primary and Hoboken High Schools. Can't wait to see how things get defrosted and reheated. I'll be sure to take plenty of pics to show you all!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Thursday 4/1: Pizza on Thursday!

The menu reads as follows: Assorted Pizza, Tossed Salad, Fresh Apple

What they got: Plain or pepperoni pizza, tossed salad and an apple.

Today the kids had pizza on Thursday since as of today we are on spring break! Have to admit, I am secretly sad that I will not have any lunch pics to take and report back on! I'm sure I'll find something to ramble on about though. 

The regional as well as the district chef was at our school again today checking in to make sure all is running smoothly. Chartwells has definitely taken an interest in making sure they are delivering the menu as promised and also maintaining a presence at St.Francis! If only their presence somehow transformed the food into nutritious and well-balanced meals, I'd be way more satisfied, but then again I wouldn't have anything to blog about! ;)

Just looking this pizza loaded with pepperoni one can tell it's your hearts worst enemy, talk of artery clogging and high cholesterol!  If a child's most formative years are their youngest — from birth to age 5, then what message are sending we to our kids when this type of food becomes the norm? As parents we have to take control of this. WE are responsible for our childrens' education,  integration and socialization into the world. School budgets are shrinking, disposable incomes have decreased, inflation continues to rise and we are forced to come up with creative ways to provide for our families. I believe it's time to return back to our basics. For me this has meant providing home-cooked meals for my family everyday, and everyday since my daughter was able to sit-up and eat solids we have eaten dinner as a family. My parents did it and I am doing it. Growing up Greek definitely reinforced the food issue. My dad has always kept an impressive fruit and vegetable garden. Picking figs straight from the tree and eating them was habitual and oh, how do I miss that!  We cook a lot and family sit-downs is the absolute rule! This is not too say we don't ever order in pizza or on the odd occasion eat Chinese take-out, but even then we sit down to a family meal, around the table, together. 

Consider this: A study of family eating patterns was published in 2005 by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University and reflects nearly a decade's worth of data gathering. The researchers found essentially that family dinner gets better with practice; the less often a family eats together, the worse the experience is likely to be, the less healthy the food and the more meager the talk. Among those who eat together three or fewer times a week, 45% say the TV is on during meals (as opposed to 37% of all households), and nearly one-third say there isn't much conversation. Such kids are also more than twice as likely as those who have frequent family meals to say there is a great deal of tension among family members, and they are much less likely to think their parents are proud of them. Read the full article here.

Wishing you all very happy spring break!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wednesday 3/31: Twin Taco

The menu reads as follows: Twin Taco, seasoned taco meat, cheddar cheese,lettuce & salsa, fruit.

What they got: Taco, seasoned mystery meat, cheddar cheese, cheddar cheese, lettuce, salsa and canned peaches.

The lunch today again was delivered as stated on the menu. Please note the real cheese. Cannot complain about that!

The think what really bothers me with this lunch though is really the seasoned taco meat. Sitting in the serving tray it was all goopy and sticky. I've cooked a lot of ground beef, many variations and never does it have that texture. The lunch lady told me they get it in huge vacuum packed bags and then they just cook/warm it up. I'm concerned because it sounds like it's commodity processed beef and the sodium and saturated fats in it don't come with a whole lot of other nutrients! So why are they eating this again? The last time I looked we eat to feed our bodies and minds, this means eating healthy foods that are rich in nutrients AND taste! Food is not simply a filler. Sure it satiates hunger but then we may as well just feed them cardboard and be done with it.

The only fresh ingredient on the plate was the iceberg lettuce. Need is say more? 

Good news though: The school lunch project is picking up steam! Hoboken Patch did a story today on raising awareness about the poor quality of food served by our lunch program: Bring A Brown Bag—Some Hoboken Mothers Unhappy With School Lunch

Call To Action: MAKE SOME NOISE!
And don't forget to sign the petition for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.