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Two Angry Moms - a documentary

I just went to a screening of the documentary "Two Angry Moms." It focuses on the lunches served in schools and basically how unhealthy they are. The film documents following The Moms around for a year and their efforts to help correct the problem. It also gives steps to help change the school lunches in your own kids' schools. A very eye-opening film. Check out a clip here http://www.angrymoms.org

my blog http://www.dinnersforayear.blogspot.com

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  1. Wow - thanks for this.

    1. I truly respect the work these two are doing to improve the quality of food served in school cafeterias.

      Even when you think your kids are making healthy choices at lunchtime, chances are they aren't.

      Here's another article about Amy Kalafa, one of the Angry Moms.


      1 Reply
      1. re: TrishUntrapped

        They do make their lunches for their kids. They are trying to help with the bigger problem.

      2. Why don't these angry moms make their kids' lunches for them?

        2 Replies
        1. re: southernitalian

          "Why don't these angry moms make their kids' lunches for them?"

          I would guess because they're concerned about other people's kids, too. There are many families out there that cannot afford to pack lunches for their children, and for some, this school lunch is their main meal of the day.

          I would also venture a guess that there's a correlation between quality of school lunch/snacks and students' academic performance.

          1. re: southernitalian

            According to the article, Amy Kalafa does make her kid's lunch for her.
            It's more of a crusade. And I think it has some merit. Have you ever had lunch at your child's school? I did when my kids were younger, and the junk food was far more pervasive than I expected. I packed lunch for my kids whenever I could.

          2. Aside for the enconomical benefit, another reason to go back to packing a lunch.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Tay

              Actually, many low-income families receive free breakfast and lunch through the schools. In these cases, packing a lunch is less cost-effective. All the more reason to seek out reform in the school lunch program.

            2. Also just to point out, the school I went to (a private school where lunch was part of the tuition) did not allow you to bring a pack lunch. Granted this was many years ago but still.

              3 Replies
              1. re: emmyru

                I went to private school as well. If a parent wants to send lunch from home, the school will not prevent it. Of course, they may still choose to charge for lunch as part of the tuition package. Some private schools now issue a sort of debit card that parents can 'load' .with a specific amount of money and the child has his/her purchases deducted from the card.

                1. re: Tay

                  Both of my children attend a small private school. They were not allowed to bring a sack lunch until they reached kindergarten--I'll bet to simplify lunchtime for the teachers, as the students eat in their classrooms. Fortunately, the parents have spoken at this school, and the lunches are respectable.

                  1. re: Tay

                    tay, i'm sure it depends on the school. i went to a private school, and bringing your own lunch was strictly prohibited unless there were severe allergy issues. if a monitor saw you eating anything that didn't come from the cafeteria line or the mott's juice vending machine, then you'd get written up. personally, i would have eaten healthier had i been able to bring my own food.

                2. I'm not a mom, but I've checked the menus for my local school district out of curiosity and it reads like a fast food menu. Pizza, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, baked cheetos (!), burritos, taco hot pockets, double dogs, and, hey, once a week, a fruit snack! I'm sure that menu reflects what the majority of kids like and will eat, but still... it would be nice if healty eating were part of the curriculum.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: emily

                    Horrifying, isn't it? The question then becomes, why is this what children like to eat? There has been a lot of discussion on chowhound over the years about kids eating preferences and how to mold them -- basically, the old nature vs. nurture question. There are no simple answers, but we always butt up against the circular reasoning that kids will only eat certain things, therefore that's all we will give them. School is where they're supposed to learn, after all, so as you say, why not learn about good eating habits?

                  2. Jamie Oliver went on this crusade in England 2 or 3 years ago. It was documented on TLC. VERY interesting. The budget these schools have is so small and the kids don't eat the veg they make. They eat these dinosaur looking nuggets and tater tots. The cafeteria ladies say that the kids won't eat it (pickiness, peer pressure, etc) and throw it away.

                    I went to an upscale public elementary school. I switched back and forth b/w hot lunch & BYO. But, the food some kids brought from home wasn't any healtheir - leftover pizza, lunchables, fruit roll-ups, chips! I always had the lame, healthy lunches- PB Sandwich, Carrots, Fig Newton. Oh, how I longed for leftover pizza!! The cafe is also a social experience in alientation and being different. So, if one kid says "This is Gross!" they all go "yeah! it's gross!" I remember doing this with the schools fabulous refried beans. Everyone making fart jokes and whatnot. I threw them away with everyone else.

                    1. I watched the clips and was flabbergasted at the junk that was available for the kids to buy instead of a hot lunch in some places. Chips, sodas, pre-packaged cookies - all kinds of crap. I don't have kids, so I had no idea. When I was a kid, nothing like that was avaiable, and there certainly weren't coke machines in the school for the kids. They had one in the teacher's lounge, which was of course, off limits to us. I passed the link along to my parent-friends. It's pretty eye-opening. Nice to see something being done to improve the situation.

                      1. School lunches weren't paragons of health in the 70's and 80's when I ate them, but the main difference between then and now is the food manufacturers have moved junk food into the lunchroom. Chips, "go gurts", pop tarts, soda. What kid in their right mind is going to eat chicken and vegetables (assuming it is even available) when they can have pizza and tater tots? I remember we saw it as a real victory when I was a senior that pizza became an option every day.

                        As for bringing lunches, sure some parents have time to cook/prepare yet another meal a day, and some don't. Even if they do, many kids will find a way out of eating said meal since the other stuff calls out to them as beings with limited self control who are drawn to fat, salt, and sugar.

                        It is really a mess -- My son is 4 and all the kids bring lunch at his preschool, and I dread the day when he is faced with a school cafeteria.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: gridder

                          And, schools that have corpoprate sponsors like Coke or Pepsi have no end to available vending machines and junk that is part of their fundraising effors (ala Fast Food Nation - the Dr. Pepper school).

                          At my High School, we sold Otis Spunkmeyer cookies in b/w 2&3rd period as a fundraiser! 3 big cookies for $1 or something stupid. Kids were LINED up for them - daily. Talk about unhealthy.

                          In High School, I didn't know anyone who brought lunch from home. It was cooler just not to eat, eat the name brand "Pizza Hut" pizza, or the hot line on occassion. We did have "open" lunch for seniors - where you could leave. But, it was a 25 minute period and by the time you got to the lot, to Sonic, and back - you had no time to eat. So, we just ate at school.

                          1. re: gridder

                            Yet another factor is that as school budgets shrink, many schools don't have a real cafeteria with food prepared onsite by trained staff. Food is either prepared in a central kitchen reheated on site, or they use food-service foods that just need to be taken out of a package and heated. That's why there's so much packaged/branded food -- when you take the overhead into account, it's cheaper (not to mention easier) for the schools to reheat food from a box than to plan, buy, prepare and cook fresh food. I wouldn't be surprised to find that food service companies do all the planning and schools just buy a week (or month) of pre-planned menus.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              Yes, I think that's true. Maybe part of the problem is the idea that you have to have a hot lunch. The lunch I took to school nearly every day involved no cooking at all and only minimal manipulation of the food: a sandwich, raw vegetables, a piece of fruit, and maybe a cookie. If you bought presliced meat and cheese, or premade chicken salad, or whatever, for the sandwiches, all you'd need to assemble it would be a work surface, a couple of cutting boards, some knives, and a sink. And even pre-packaged sandwiches are probably better quality than packaged food kids are getting now.

                              1. re: jlafler

                                That's how our kids' private school operates, although there's usually one hot item. A typical lunch would be a broiled chicken sandwich, a handful of chips, raw baby carrots, watermelon chunks, and a cookie. Milk or water to drink. From the little I've read, though, it's difficult for many public schools to do this because fresh fruit and vegetables have relatively few calories per dollar. The schools are given difficult limitations: they must provide x number of calories with x budget.

                          2. When i went to primary and elementary school....there was a cafeteria for the kids to eat in, but nothing ever sold there to my knowledge. It was a small town and the majority of us went home to lunch. We had however, ice cream at recess and i remember field trip "lunches" being usually, a pop, bag of chips, and a bar...but these were not daily treats. Now i'm sure alot of the home made lunches and many meals were not the epitomy of health back in the 70's....but at least for the most part we were not eating primarily pre-packaged foods all round. Kids back in the day weren't full of food allergies and what not, and with the exception of a little baby fat, we weren't obese. We played outside and worked it off no doubt (HATED being stuck in the house on a rainy day). My high school did sell canteen stuff, and alot of that was fries. (I still walked home to lunch every day, ten minutes each way-we had an hour!)However again i think the difference was that the rest of our meals were home-made. We rarely if ever had take out, and if we did, it was a treat. Besides, who could afford it? We also (gasp!), didn't have individual meals cooked for each of us, or had fun shaped what nots plunked down in front of us for suppers either. Yet we survived.

                            I'm sure however, that if i had been in control of my own menus as a child...i would have lived off candy and french fries.

                            I get a kick out of how, as an adult, i'll go to a restaurant for lunch with my co-workers, and the place is half filled with kids. Parents must have to have a bankroll behind them to fund that on a daily basis.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: im_nomad

                              We share similar experiences. To my immigrant family, it seemed unbelievable that schools in this country would provide two solid free meals a day. I don't recall what I ate; I'm certain it was nothing spectacular but I do remember looking forward to my school meals every day. My friends and I did not grow up obese or even mildly fat, probably because we had gym daily and didn't plunk our arses down in front of a computer for hours on end.

                              Well, times change. For better or worse or a little bit of both.

                            2. Slightly off topic, but my mother always packed my school lunch for me. The problem was that she was a great cook and the cafeteria lunch never appealed to me. That was fine until I got to college and had to deal with the meal program there. I had no money to buy fresh food and the food service options were, in my opinion, disgusting. The school steadfastly refused to refund my food money so I could buy my own. My mother's care packages kept me alive, but by the time I graduated I was 6'4" and 140 lbs. (I was 165 when I came in as a freshman.) I'm glad I stuck to my guns and didn't stuff myself with slop, but there should be a way for students to get out of a bad food service contract if they can prove that they can fend for themselves. (At least I've heard that the food has improved quite a bit there since I left.)

                              1. Part of this film was shot in the private school that my daughter went to, where everyone eats in the dining room, no one brings their lunch. For the past few years they have gone as organic, local and sustainable (and healthy) as they can. It was a very interesting process to watch, and the kids have adapted admirably to it (better than the teachers I think)!
                                They are working with local farmers and purveyors, getting eggs, veggies, fruits, meats, cheeses, etc. All "unhealthy" snacks and drinks have been removed from the menus and they are cooking with healthier techniques such as baking rather than frying. They are even growing some produce out back that the kids can tend to and then the chef cooks!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: sibeats

                                  I love this! Make it part of the learning process.

                                  1. re: Jocelyn P

                                    The most interesting part is that they found it is actually cheaper to do it this way than the old way with processed, frozen, packaged foods. Of course the school is quite small, grades PK-8 with a total of about 190 kids.

                                    1. re: sibeats

                                      i don't recall any soda or snack machines when i went to school which was back in the 1960s to 1974.Cafeterias in those days made a lot of dishes themselves.loved enchilada day at James Madison Elementary
                                      in San Antonio back in 1963. I work for the local school district and i know they get a lot of processed foods to the kids.At Steele High School in Cibolo,they have a culinary arts class.I think it would be neat if at least at that school,Food Service would work with the culinary class
                                      in planning a menu for the school and let them help.Heck maybe get the Vocational Ag class involved and they could raise veggies for the cafeteria and the class to use. It's still rural around Schertz and Cibolo,though more and more farmland is disappearing for housing developements.
                                      Also,I just printed here at work at letter from the Athletic Department.
                                      Says during the 80th Legislative Session,Senate Bill 530 was passes which requires fitness assesments for all 3rd through 12th graders starting the 2007-2008 school year.The Texas Education Agency (TEA)
                                      has identified Fitness Gram as the assessment tool to be used by all districts throughout the state.
                                      It says also that the grades above will be given a physical fitness test and a report sent home to parents
                                      It lists a couple of links.www.fitnessgram.net/faqparents
                                      Any how,they never should have abadoned phys ed for kids.

                                2. Man, school lunch is a topic dear to my heart. When I was a kid, we actually got pretty good food. Not great, but it was edible. When my daughter, who is now 17, hit school age, I was shocked at how bad the food was. She's never been a picky eater, but she came home one day in second grade and DEMANDED a bag lunch. I happened to be at her school for a meeting one day when lunch arrived and I saw instantly what she meant.

                                  She attended one of the best high schools here in Chicago and I had a teacher conference one day, and they took me to the cafeteria so they could multi-task. Since I had to be back at work, I ordered lunch too. It was incredibly foul. Just canned food salted and greased to the max, substandard meat essentially boiled, some imitation mac and cheese made with god knows what, coffee that tasted like water...I couldn't eat it. I got a couple of bananas so I would have something to eat.

                                  There's a small program in Chicago that is serving healthy, tasty food to kids at a few southside schools, but at $1 a meal, which is their budget, there isn't a lot of variety. To me, that's not a big deal. When I was in school, there was little if any choice. They had about 20 dishes they rotated, but generally you got oven fried chicken, grilled cheese sandwiches, turkey tetrazinni and so on virtually every week. I'll take edible over variety every time.

                                  I saw a clip of Jamie Oliver and the notorious turkey twizzler, his pet hate, one time, and man it looked awful.

                                  1. Have you guys heard of Chef Bobo on the UWS? It's a shame that something like this would be so difficult to integrate into so many public schools -- or some private schools for that matter.