Posted by: wildflowerz | May 3, 2010

School Food Update:

In the interest of fair play, here’s the response I got from our school district’s nutrition supervisor and my response below it:

I received this e-mail from <name deleted> office and want to respond.

We take a lot of pride in the menus we prepare for our students and staff and have worked diligently to ensure the food items are the best and healthiest we can provide. You are correct about the menu for last Monday being without a “real” vegetable. We caught this error and submitted another menu. Unfortunately the previous one had already gone to print. We initially changed the menu to use a surplus supply of fat free potato wedges we received in our district. These potatoes are baked as we do not do any frying of food and have not for several years. The cheese sauce is made from 100% cheddar cheese and non-fat dry milk which are excellent sources of calcium and protein. The potato rounds were on the menu in error and were not served that day. Fresh baby carrots were served in their stead. We did serve the baked beans. These are made from vegetarian beans (with no pork). We do  not add any additional ingredients. We serve a lower fat beef patty on a whole grain bun.

The Fruit Plate consists of fruit yogurt (without dyes), 100% low-fat mozzarella cheese stick, 4 oz fruit (this may be fresh frozen apricots, strawberries or peaches), 1 box raisins, and 1 package of low fat animal cookies that are fortified with iron and contain no hydrogenated or transfats. The students have the opportunity to select additional fruits and vegetables from the line at no additional cost. We did check about the cookie being served on your child’s plate. You are right; it was on the plate. A low fat, 1  ounce cookie  is offered as a treat on Fridays. This cookie is made with applesauce and sweet potatoes to reduce the fat content.  It should not have been included as part of the plate and will not be henceforth. I thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Our lunchroom ladies usually rotate the milk and remove crates as they empty. It was unfortunate that your daughter was not able to get the regular milk. In the future if your daughter has trouble reaching a milk, please have her ask one of the cashiers/servers for assistance as they are located next to the milk box. We have been working with Mayfield Dairies to reduce the amount of sugar in our flavored milks. We have gone from 28 grams of sugar to 25 grams and will eventually reduce this amount further. Our goal is 18 grams. We only serve chocolate milk as strawberry milk has artificial coloring and vanilla milk has artificial sweetener. When Jamie Oliver commented about flavored milk having more sugar that soda, he neglected to say that half of the sugar in milk is naturally occurring lactose. A canned soda has 3.83 grams of sugar per ounce. ½% chocolate milk has 3.12 grams per ounce; half of the grams in ½% chocolate milk are from lactose. Milk also contains calcium, Vitamin A and D, which are good for our students.

I, too, watched Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. I was not so impressed. He could have done great things for our program by helping the Federal government realize the need for additional funds to support the National School Lunch Program. But I believe his goal was “entertainment” and not what is best for America’s children.

There was a lot of misinformation and missing information the viewers never knew, such as:

1.       80% of his lunches exceeded the total fat or saturated fat allowance.

2.       The lunch participation dropped from 75% to 66%.

3.       The school district may lose Federal funds due to non-compliance with the meal patterns and nutrient standard requirements.

4.       Each school needed new equipment to produce his food.

5.       More employees were required to prepare the meal (totaling nearly $66,000.00 per year).

6.       He went over budget.

7.       Students stopped drinking milk.

8.       Many students quit eating in the lunchroom due to the new food being served.

9.       After labor, equipment, administration, storage, etc… is deducted from the cost of a meal, there is approximately 85 cents to a dollar left to pay for the food.

10.   Jamie never addressed McDonald’s or other fast food businesses nor junk food advertisements intended for children.

I have attached a list of things we do in our School Nutrition Program. Many are unaware of the steps we have taken to make certain our students receive the healthiest meals possible.

If you have questions regarding any of this information, please do not hesitate to contact me. I will be happy to assist.

And my response:

Thank you for responding. I really do appreciate it. Also thank you for pointing out some of the errors in the Food Revolution program. It’s not that I took the program as gospel (I could certainly see that the radio DJ part looked completely staged, among other things), but it was the overall message of the program that I took away from the experience. Why is there even chocolate milk available? Just to get the children to get the nutrients from the milk and any way you can get it in them is fine? My daughter does like regular milk, but when there’s the option of something sugary and chocolatey she has a hard time picking up the regular milk. Chocolate milk at home is a very rare sight in our house. She maybe has it once a month. It used to be a treat, but having it every day at school has changed it more into an expectation. Luckily, I found the Horizon milk boxes at the Publix this week so they can go into her lunch bag.

While I appreciate that you pointed out the errors from the Food Revolution program, you didn’t point out the obvious error of something I stated. I checked the MealPay website and then contacted the school and I can get my money back. It’s being processed now. Despite whatever the nutritional content is, my daughter just generally doesn’t really like the food. She liked the fruit plate on Fridays, popcorn chicken or chicken nuggets, and she used to like the pizza, but maybe the supplier was changed part-way through the year and she doesn’t like it anymore? Anyway, she’ll be bringing her lunch from now on and since she’s just in kindergarten, that’s going to be a lot of years. I try my best to give her nutritionally sound food at home. She doesn’t always like it. But I have a hard time convincing her to eat things like salad, grilled chicken, turkey, etc when what’s offered at school is bbq, popcorn chicken, nachos, pizza, hot dogs, cheese fries, cheese stuffed breadsticks, or something called a crispadora. That’s what she thinks all meals should be like. Restaurants don’t help that image either.

And you were wrong on one note about the Food Revolution. One thing that Oliver is doing is his petition. He wants to take it to the White House to get help from the federal government to change things. I’d say he has a decent chance of it with the First Lady’s pet project being combating childhood obesity. I suppose we’ll see.

Also, here is the contents of the attachment she talked about:

Did you know the <Name Deleted> County School Nutrition Program…

  1. Successfully completed our CRE and SMI Review in 2008?
  2. Is part of the USDA Dietary Assessment Study?
  3. Is part of the USDA School Food Purchase Study?
  4. Took part in the Wellness Policy Study?
  5. Operates “Offer vs. Serve” in all schools but <Name Deleted>?
  6. Does not receive any raw meat or poultry products due to risk of Food Borne illness?
  7. Displays carbohydrate counts on the CCSD website?
  8. Conducts health promotions in schools?
    1. Fuel Up to Play
    1. National Breakfast Week
    2. Got Milk?
    3. Dr. Seuss
    4. 5 A Day Fruit and Vegetable Campaign
  1. Offers a vegetarian option each day (menus)?
  1. Serves food and beverages with less fat?
    1. Milk contains only 1% fat or less
    1. We process USDA commodities to help control fat content
    2. We make salad dressings from scratch with reduced fat mayonnaise
    3. We pre-portion all dressings to control the amount students consume
    4. We removed frialators from every kitchen; we only bake our foods.
    5. Cookies are homemade with applesauce and sweet potatoes to reduce the fat content
    6. We use reduced fat cheeses
    7. We serve baked, whole grain chips (not potato)
    8. We monitor ingredients in ala carte foods
    9. We have removed all salad bars and now offer “designer salads” instead
  1. Has almost completely eliminated all foods and beverages with artificial dyes?
    1. We worked with Mayfield to eliminate dyes in fruit juice
    2. Fruit gummies are natural with no dyes
    3. Cereals have no dyes
    4. Only serve 1 flavor of Gatorade, which contains no dye
    5. Removed gelatins
    6. We now serve foods colored with beet juice, paprika, turmeric…
    7. We have worked with Riptide to reformulate products to include no dyes (This was done  after we discontinued buying their product due to the dyes.)
  1. Is working to reduce sugar in our food products?
    1. We are working with Mayfield Dairies to reduce the amount of sugar in flavored milks
    2. We serve reduced sugar cereals at breakfast
    3. We serve fruits as a dessert
  1. Has less commercially processed and more homemade foods?
    1. Rolls are made from scratch with whole wheat
    2. Rolls are made with oil instead of hydrogenated fat
    3. Cookies are made from scratch
    4. Most entrees are made from scratch from USDA processed foods


  1. Serves more fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables?
    1. We receive more frozen fruits and vegetables from USDA
    1. We participate in the GEC produce bid, reducing the price of produce and increasing the quality
    2. Students are allowed to choose additional fruits and vegetables at no charge (except potatoes)
    3. Fruits are served as a dessert
  1. Sends USDA commodities to companies to prepare usable end products according to our specifications?
    1. Beef
    1. Meat loaf
    1. Beef crumbles
    2. Beef tenders
    3. Hamburger patties
    4. Teriyaki beef
    1. Tomato paste
    1. Spaghetti sauce
    2. Ketchup
    3. Marinara sauce
    4. Salsa
    1. Turkey
    1. Sausage
    2. Turkey roasts
    3. Deli turkey
    1. Cheese
    1. Individual portions
    2. Shredded
    3. Sliced
    4. Cheddar cheese sauce
    5. Queso cheese sauce
    1. Pork
    1. Chopped barbecue (vinegar)
    2. Chopped barbecue (tomato)
    1. Eggs
    1. Cheese omelets
    2. Scrambled egg pouches
    3. French toast sticks
    1. Chicken
    1. Chicken filets
    2. Chicken nuggets
    3. Popcorn chicken
    4. Chicken tenders
    5. Chicken fajitas
    6. Breakfast chicken filet
    7. Chicken chunks

Now, at the end of all that, I do feel better about what she’s eating, but she still doesn’t like most of it.  Of course, she doesn’t like what we have at home a lot of times either.  I don’t know how to change that.

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Responses

  1. “Most entrees are made from scratch from USDA processed foods”

    that sounds like ‘not made from scratch’ to me…

    “We removed frialators from every kitchen; we only bake our foods”

    since the processed chicken nugets and stuff is almost surely pre-fried before the school gets them, they are really only reheating them in the baker instead of double frying them

    “Fruits are served as a dessert”

    offering a fruit as dessert is almost useless when it is competing with a cookie or cupcake or piece od cake or whatever

  2. Most days when they serve fruit, it’s not in addition to the cookie. But that’s about all I can say to defend it. I’m supposed to be getting a refund for the 10 days of meals we still had left. Even before I decided to do that, when Em and I were trying to figure out how we could make sure she used all that up, we were having a hard time figuring out which days she’d eat at school.

    I’m happy to make her meals from now on, but I need to find some better ways to get some vegetables into lunch for home brought meals. Of course, almost anything I do would be better than what the school’s offering.


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