So most of you who know me know that I heart cooking. I read cookbooks cover to cover, I would watch cooking shows all day if we had cable, and one of my happiest places in my house is in my kitchen creating, mixing, chopping, stirring, and spending time doing it all with the fam.
I’ve been watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on TV. Read all the books (even his wife’s Diary of an Honest Mum), watched all his shows via the public library (except the British school lunch one–the lib doesn’t have it…yet…!)
We qualifiy for free school lunches. Each month I pore over the school lunch menu. On paper it looks pretty good. I try to coach my son to make good choices as he pre-selects his meal in the morning before going to school.
After watching the show, though, I started asking more in-depth questions. Like which milk do you drink? (His answer…chocolate. I know. GASP!) I told my son that the milk he is choosing has more sugar that soda (we don’t drink soda and even limit our juice to 100% and only 1 glass a day). The next day he chose white milk, but a few days later he confessed he was back to chocolate. SIGH. What’s a mom to do?
I can only coach, educate, cajole, beg, send sticker-riddled notes so much. I can’t be with him to choose each lunch and see what he actually does and doesn’t eat for a meal. I also have no idea whether the foods being served are freshly prepared, or highly processed foods.
Since I cook 90% of my son’s meals at home from scratch and pack everything full of nutrition (even birthday cakes have something healthy snuck in–beets in chocolate cake–no one suspected a thing!) I’m not too worried. And I know we don’t HAVE to eat the school lunches, but they are free to us, and we do not fall into the category of exhorbitantly wealthy.
So, I decided to see if the school would allow me to pay a visit to their cafeteria kitchen and inspect the foods being prepared and served to my son.
I’ll let you know how it goes…
Update 10 minutes after posting this: I received an immediate response from the principal that he cannot give me permission to go into the kitchen, but I am welcome to eat lunch with Liam anytime and see how things on that side of the food service window operate. Now I’m tracking down whose permission I need to get into the kitchen.
Second update: principal does not have permission to allow me in the kitchen and thinks liability issues etc will keep me from being allowed access. I am, however, totally welcome to come eat lunch with Liam at any time and see how things are run from the cafeteria side, and he would love to talk. I’m interested to see the response I get from the food services coordinator…might just have to get me a job as a lunch lady!
4/23 update–received a very cordial and positive e-mail from the food service director inviting me to meet with her as well as a registered dietician and look at a binder that contains all the labels to all the foods offered by the district’s lunch program. I am eating in the cafeteria tomorrow and can’t wait to do some sleuthing and observing!
Updates to date:
Lunch Visit— the first step was checking out the school cafeteria
Principal visit–the second step I took in the process
Food Service meeting–where some real information comes to light