School Lunch Found Guilty!

PBJ, Banana and Yogurt by pwyfoodmernaa
February 23, 2010, 1:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


Merna, Emily and Masiel say,

Today’s lunch was unexpected. The PBJ was smushed and wet. It didn’t look very pleasent to eat. The banana wasn’t ripe yet, it was hard to open and it tasted sour. It stinged my taste buds. The yogurt was OK but it looked pale and it was a little flavorless. Other yogurts’ tasted better from the grocery. The lunch for today was really bad. There was also spinach but why bother take it when it looks like seaweed? It was boiled from the looks of it and we didn’t take it. Overall, the lunch was GUILTY!!!


19 Comments so far
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I caught a wiff of the spinach when I walked by it in the cafeteria. I don’t blame you for not taking any! It smelled terrible.

Comment by FoodTeacherAmy

I’m not really clear on the purpose of this blog. All it seems to be a group of sixth-graders complaining about their lunches. They complain when unhealthy foods are served, they complain when healthy foods are served. In the very first post, they wrote, “The 3rd thing… well, we don’t even know WHAT it was! But we didn’t think it would be good.” It was quite clear from the photograph that what they were talking about were chickpeas and black beans. Maybe it could have been a teachable moment to explain what it was. They talk about not eating chicken “because it looked gross.” They don’t take spinach . . . “why bother take it when it looks like seaweed?” About a hamburger a while ago, one wrote, “This hamburger is all over the place and it looks so sloppy I bet some people won’t like to eat that hamburger because if they just look at they will make an ugly face.” They yearn to buy snacks like Milano cookies and real Hi-C at the local deli . . . “Why would you want to eat school lunch when you can go to the deli and buy delicious snacks.”

What precisely is the point of this blog? Are they being taught about nutrition? Is it just a place to let off steam and complain about their lunches? Clearly it’s not an exercise to improve their writing skills because their posts are full of spelling and punctuation errors, which could be, but are not, edited before their work is posted.

I have been taking a look at this blog daily, in addition to a couple of other school lunch blogs. I applaud the idea of this one being written by the students themselves, but it doesn’t seem to be anything more than a gripe-fest. Is the educational goal academic, nutritional, or just social? I think it could be quite educational, but someone has to help connect the dots for them. In a school called a “Leadership” school, it seems to me that this is a good way to teach leadership, but leadership is not just complaining about things, it’s about attempting to change things. I’d love to see young women, especially, taught to effect change, rather than just complain.

Comment by Queenscook

The site seems like a bunch of 6th graders complaining about their lunches because, well, yeah, that’s what it is. So they’re not planting a garden at the White House. So what? They’ve got a valid complaint, and they’re using the Internet to voice it. Good for them! I’m sure there are plenty of students in cafeterias across NYC who feel the same way my students do, but who feel powerless to do anything about it. Maybe one of those kids will happen upon this site and feel empowered. Maybe someone with the power to make decisions will take notice. Maybe these girls will prove the old saying that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” We have many goals for this site, some of which are evolving as we go. Whatever happens, if anything at all, there are already so many benefits to a project like this – the girls learn about technology, become responsible for publishing work on a daily basis, and stick up for themselves against a large and formidable opponent.

This site is a very small part of a class that focuses on many aspects of food and the importance it has in our lives. This class is just one in a full school day. Are my colleagues and I teaching kids to do nothing but complain? Of course not. It’s ridiculous to suggest otherwise. There are so many teachable moments that pop up throughout the school day – at lunchtime, in the hallway, in the classroom – and we tackle as many as we can. If we miss a chick pea or a bean here and there, it’s great to have an Internet community who will step up and share some knowledge, like a reader called Cricketo did when she commented on our first post, the one with the questionable veggies. She explained what she saw on the tray, and offered her positive opinion of the taste. When chefs and nutritionists and activists and people who just happen to be interested in food can share their ideas and knowledge with us, the world becomes our classroom. What a great way to make use of the Internet; I welcome all of these extra teachers.

I’m not opposed to alternate viewpoints, skepticism or criticism on this site. However, I’ll tell you the same thing I tell my students when they are reading another student’s work: If you are going to criticize, you should also offer a specific idea or suggestion. We don’t do peer editing to “catch” someone doing something wrong, we do it to help others get better. Simply swooping in with assumptions, rhetorical questions and attacks on the food preferences and grammatical errors of these bloggers doesn’t really help anyone here – not the followers of this site, not the teacher assessing and contemplating it, and certainly not my students, who are, in their small way, fighting for change.

Since its first day, School Lunch Found Guilty has been viewed 2,701 times. My students, with their complaints, have started an important conversation. They have spoken up for a population that often goes unheard. They have gone after something they deem as unfair. This site is just one place where their leadership skills are showcased. These same girls have raised money for Haiti and Heifer International. They have created lunchtime clubs to draw out and welcome students who are shy. They have been leads in the school play. They have visited my class before they were even enrolled in it because they were chomping at the bit to get involved. They have educated each other about their cultures and have respectfully listened to their classmates. I think their ideas about what leadership is are just fine.

Comment by foodteacheramy

Dear Queenscook:
Your comment was ridiculous; If you are associated with the DOE Food Services program and are simply ‘sticking up’ for your organization, perhaps you should read the posts more carefully and take the girls’ analyses of the food THEY are being forced to eat to heart — and join them in their quest for nutritious, palatable food. If you are merely an internet browser and have such time on your hands to blast a student food blog, perhaps you can use all that downtime and redirect your energy towards more worthy causes like homelessness and child abuse. These girls are just now starting on their journeys to make a difference in this world – if you are reduced to nasty comments on a school blog, I would say your journey is at a dead stop. Get a life.

Comment by Susan DiVerniero

i totally agree with you!=)

Comment by sarah

i totally agree with amy!

Comment by sarah

In my opinion, if you make a website, you make it with a purpose. So this website has a purpose. Most kids don’t like school lunch and some do. We share our opinions about the lunch we get. Outside our school, you don’t know how are food tastes like. The people making our food probably might know. We want people to know our experience with this food rather than just eating one bite and tossing it away with nothing to talk about. It’d be worse if no one wanted to say something about our lunches. We don’t like them. It’s not just 6th graders posting up some random school lunch complaining, we didn’t even reach a year and people say this blog has no purpose. We need a chance for our voices to be heard. Honestly, I feel insulted by that. Saying you don’t understand the purpose of this blog. We’re trying our hardest and putting all our thoughts into this site. What do you know about our school lunch? You only see pictures. You’d look at a banana and think it’s tasty but if you actually eat it then you’d realize the point of this site. We 6th graders can’t just walk anywhere in the world giving samples of our food asking if it’s good or not. We’re young women, still learning and experiencing new stuff. We need to interact with other people and be more social with others. That is what we do here also. The title says it all, “School Lunch Found Guilty” We see how it’s coming to our school, we actually eat it and feel it. You’re against our site, but we’re not and we’re not giving up hope. Our site has meaning like everything else in the world!

Comment by pwyfoodemilya

“Clearly it’s not an exercise to improve their writing skills because their posts are full of spelling and punctuation errors, which could be, but are not, edited before their work is posted.” The “Queenscook” says
Execuse a second ,we do not care a bout spelling mistakes.we are just making sure that the world gets the message, but of course you CANT.And there i spelled things without punctuation!are u happy?
“I’d love to see young women, especially, taught to effect change, rather than just complain.”the “Queenscook”says
These are quotes that we are trying to tell you:
“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.”
“I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.”
““Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.”
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear”
This is a GOOD one:
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.”
“Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose.”
Thsi goes to you especially even tough you cant hurt me!:
“They can’t hurt you unless you let them.”
I hope you understand and change your position please.we arent just a bunch of loseers, we have a mind just like you.and even a smart mind!=)

Comment by sarah

wow, i’m wondering queenscook is employed by the ugly spinach lobby! s/he was right about one thing: this blog is a must read every day. it has got charm, a great voice and it is very addictive. another teachable moment: no matter how cool what you are creating/ doing is, there will always be negative nancys who do not have their own inspirations and just point out negatives in others. better to learn to ignore them now. keep up the amazing work!

Comment by talia

How my comments are being interpreted as “nasty” is truly unclear to me. I do not work for any food service, let alone that of the DOE. I am also a teacher, and think it’s a shame that the girls are learning that “anything goes” when publishing on the internet. I am truly convinced that it is why I see, in the upper grades, assignments given in without being edited in any way at all. Spelling no longer counts, at least in the minds of the students. Why bother to spell “school” correctly when it’s just as easy to write “skool?” Why write “before,” when “b4” is that much shorter? And it is also why kids feel eating Milano cookies for lunch is acceptable; they don’t want the funny looking PBJ sandwich because it’s “smushed,” and they won’t touch the chicken because there’s something objectionable about that too. Fine. But it’s clear they are not, in fact, looking for “nutritious, palatable food,” because they are not doing anything towards that end. Or if they are, it’s certainly not being reported here.

The internet could, perhaps should, be a place of dialogue; I asked a question about the goals of this blog, which were unclear to me. In return, I was insulted by the blog owner. I would be happy to participate in dialogues which I feel are indicative of interest in education and/or nutrition and potential for change. Talk about “negative Nancys;” that seems to me to be precisely what these students are. They complain about their food, but haven’t seemed to find a single good thing to say in over a month of lunches. Every single lunch has been deemed “GUILTY.” Are they forced to eat the school lunches? Maybe they should bring their own, ones that would be more to their liking. Certainly four weeks is long enough to see they’re only going to get more of the same, and that nothing is going to change on its own. Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Why are these girls still eating these lunches this far into the project?

My final comment is that it is clear to me that the teacher here doesn’t have any interest in constructive criticism, and is only happy when being complimented. I seem to be the first of the 2701 visitors to the site to have the nerve to point out that the “Emperor’s New Clothes” do not, in fact, exist. And I am the only one whose comments were called “nasty.” So just continue to pat yourself on the back and don’t listen to anyone who has anything to say that even slightly disagrees with you. I’ve never heard of a true leader that acts that way, but you are the one who teaches at a Leadership School, so I guess you know best.

Comment by Queenscook

Dear Queenscook:

My God! Such rancor! I have to question what your motives are in making such genuinely negative attacks on the students AND teachers who are posting on this blog. You realize you are making comments primarily to CHILDREN, right? Sixth graders. Eleven year olds. After all, they are the actual “owners” of the blog, and I doubt they would view any of your comments as constructive. As an adult reader(and a veteran teacher myself), I find your words in both postings posses an accusatory and hypercritical tone that would surely cause deep discouragement in younger students – without offering them much in the way of options for success. And I find it very troubling that you are so willing to throw in such a bundle of professional slurs for their teacher. I think, for her part, she makes very clear that she insists upon specific and constructive criticism in their classes together – and does so without the sarcasm so evident in your commentary. Indeed, I am impressed by the positive and professional tone she maintains in her response to your initial post. I doubt I could have done the same.

As for your rather broad assertion that the students have not found “a single good thing to say” about the lunches, I have two points. Firstly, I’ve read in two separate posts that they like the apples and that the yogurt wasn’t bad. Surely this indicates that both fruit and yogurt are nutritious and palatable in their view? Secondly, excuse me, but I believe these young women are entitled to their genuine, unfiltered responses to a situation about which they feel strongly.

As for the remarkably cynical assertion that “they’re only going to get more of the same,” please, again, understand that these are CHILDREN you are speaking with. The pessimism that some of us adopt as adults is (I hope) something that we DO NOT actively try to pass on to our students. Disillusionment may be commonplace amongst high schoolers, but in 6th graders is a real cause for concern.

Lastly, in answer to your question as to why they are “still eating these lunches this far into the project,” allow me to refresh us all: many students’ parents CANNOT provide healthy, home cooked food for their children while working 2 or 3 low-paying jobs. Many of these families cannot pay for both lunch and dinner on their salaries. Quite a few of these families now have no salary whatsoever. Do not blame the child for issues over which they have no control. They are eating (or not eating) these lunches because they go to school for ten months out of the year, and that is what they are served. As young women who care enough to speak out on behalf of themselves, and no doubt thousands of their fellows citywide, I applaud their feistyness and wish them every success in learning from their endeavor.

Comment by Bronwen

Also, I have to point out something: These are only the lunches we got so far. So how do you know that EVERY single picture will have a caption that says “GUILTY!” Maybe one day we will post something that says “HALF GUILTY!” or something like that. They give us foods that we don’t want to eat. Same old food: PBJ, chicken patty, pasta w/ meatballs. Do you even consider PBJ lunch? I’d rather prefer it as a snack. It doesn’t even fill your stomach for you to have the energy to do something. The lunch is delivered from a different school (Specifically: I.S. 126) Us 6th graders who worked on this with hard effort don’t like the fact that you are against this blog but keep in mind, we are not against it.

P.S. You’re a teacher also, is this the way you’d usually talk to kids because the way you are talking to my fellow 6th grade classmates is what I call quite rude. It makes me mad that you don’t understand this blog, well then, how come others understand it and you don’t? (People outside our school understand it)

Comment by pwyfoodemilya

I am a student from the young women leadership school of Astoria. Students made this website for a reason. We are trying to stand up for our rights. Maybe other kids from other school just go home, tell their parents how ugly and gross school lunch is BUT we try to make a difference. We aren’t trying to make only OUR lunch better but also make it better for schools across NYC.

Comment by pywfoodnoshinh

In response to Queenscook:

The fact that you are an educator disturbs me on a variety of levels.

First, you hide behind the claim of being unable to discern the purpose/point of this blog, when it is crystal clear from the disdainful comments that you do. These students have an opinion and have created a forum to voice it. That being said, it seems to me you simply disagree with that voice. Welcome to America, where fostering a healthy environment allowing children to question the things that directly impact their lives, benefits us all.

Next, that your target would be children astounds me. How easy is it to pick on the editing abilities of a 6th grader, let alone rag on the teacher for letting the students take responsibility for their postings. Seriously? Constructive criticism is one thing, but when it seems to be derived out of simple disagreement with the points being made, I fail to see how that’s constructive.

You’ve missed the lessons these girls are taking away in the form of responsibility, accountability and judgment. You’ve missed the important technical skills gained by creating, maintaining and updating a website. They learn self-reliance, cooperation and delegation skills at an age when collaboration isn’t always fun. If these things don’t all foster “leadership skills,” I don’t know what does.

I hope my children are fortunate enough to have a teacher and a school this supportive and innovative. Should you take issue with the teacher and the methods being used, an email would have been a more appropriate means of communication. This being an open forum, you get what you give.

Comment by Tera

We may be just a bunch of sixth-graders in a cooking class complaining but we are trying to make a change. Other kids/people in NYC schools are suffering, forced to eat this nasty unhealthy BAD food. Trust me, if you came to our school and tasted our lunch, you would know. We sometimes get only a PB and J sandwich for lunch. Our tummies are grumbling during our classes in the afternoon and we can’t concentrate.

Comment by pwyfoodlisah

Read this its awesome! Someone wrote about us! MUST READ! MUST READ! MUST READ!

Comment by pywfoodnoshinh

Look i see u have a problem.ok.This website was created for US sixth graders.we have the freedom or right to post what we want on our site.It is our opinion.No offense but that is your opinion.We dont care about that we care about ours.We want to make a change in are not the one who is suffering we are!ok!And the u.s. was created for i would like it if that if you want to say something make it nice please.Yuo should be encouraging us.we are the only 6th graders who are standing up for not having GUILTY food.Ya and lisa and noshin are wud think the same too.we are 28 people who agree.and look on this website:
that noshin find people actually agree with us.and you know we get lots of emails from kids.they have the SAME opinion as us and other teachers and people you people are just 1 who is argueing.we get about 200 people a day please dont say anything RUDE.Dont you adults know about respect?Thank god i know respect!and at least say something that you like about this site.we will be very thankful!

Comment by sarah

ya like emily said,is this the way you teach a kid something?why dont you teach your self how to do that before you say anything PLEASE…

Comment by sarah

I am a 6th grader at the young womens leadership school of astoria.I agree with everyone who is supporting us and our website. Thanks to everyone who is on our side and supportive of us. Queenscook- I understand that you have a problem with our website. We are trying the best we can to let people know and see what torture we go through with our school lunches. I understand that everyone has their own opinion but there is no need to say it with an impolite manner.Please continue to write on our website but please be polite and understanding of what we are doing.

Comment by syedalamisa

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