School Lunch Found Guilty!

Special Report: Government Cake Day! by schoollunchfoundguilty
May 28, 2010, 12:47 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

FoodTeacherAmy says: Today is one of my favorite days at TYWLS of Astoria, so I’d like to take a break from school lunch and share a bit of it with you — especially with you teachers out there wondering how to work food and cooking into your classrooms. I give you… Government Cake Day.

Each year, as a culminating project to show what they’ve learned about the history, formation and aspects of the United States government, the 7th-graders at our school design a representative cake. They exhibit their design on a display board and explain it to their classmates in a formal presentation.

Students are not required to bake the actual cake, but many of them do. The structure of the cake, shape and size of the layers, and sometimes even the flavor of the cake are all based on their understanding of how our government is organized. For example, many students make marble cake to show Federalism or to show the checks and balances of the goverment. Students who know that people are the most important part of a government might make them the structure of the cake (real or imagined).

Greg, my work neighbor and the teacher in charge of this project, says that working on the cake gives students a lasting memory that will hopefully create a spark later on in life when they see government at work in the real world. Because the students are hearing their classmates’ presentations on the same topic, he also believes that repetition of information will make it stick.

I think this is a genius project, and I think it (and many other cooking projects) could be re-envisioned for other subjects as well. How about a layer cake to represent the layers of the earth for science? You could experiment with pizza cutting to learn about fractions in math! Build peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to show sentence structure in English class! The options are limitless…. I know I’m mixing history and nations here, but I think Marie Antoinette had something when she said, “Let them eat cake!”

Happy Government Cake Day!


4 Comments so far
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This is really the post. It’s great. I don’t know if the things were homemade but if they were they sure looked delicious and frwesh. Awesome job!

Comment by Misbah

Although it’s a cute idea, you have a whole blog devoted to knocking down school lunch, and you promote a class project that involves CAKE?! Are you crazy? The spirit of the project is good, but how about a salad, or a smoothie, or ANYTHING but a dessert. If you are going to spend so much time tearing down school lunch, you may first want to be sure you are practicing what you preach.

Comment by Jane

FoodTeacherAmy says: If promoting a project that allows middle school students a creative way to get excited about history and to really, really understand how our government works is crazy then, yes, I guess I am crazy. I’m okay with that. But what I think is even more crazy is the blanket criminalization of dessert. Food is for nourishment, absolutely. But it is also to be enjoyed. We are advocating healthier lunches on this site, but I don’t think that eliminating dessert altogether is healthy. It only sets up kids for failure and confusion when they are faced with all the choices offered in the real world. I think that food made with fresh ingredients should be a priority, and I think variety is a positive thing. As for your suggestions about what to promote instead of dessert, and your accusation about not “practicing what you preach,” before you make judgments, please take the time to scroll back through our site for posts about multicultural food celebrations, fresh pesto, and mid-winter break lunch ideas that include a fresh salad.

Comment by schoollunchfoundguilty

I’m not criminalizing dessert – I do think though that it’s criminal to encourage kids to spend time on a class project focused on dessert. I too believe in moderation and variety, but just as school lunch folks have an obligation to feed balanced meals to students, teachers have an obligation to be good role models, and if you are going to be a “food teacher” then I suggest you make sure you focus on food – healthy food. Cake is fine, but maybe it should be enjoyed at home, rather than promoted in school for projects. That’s great that you do other projects using fresh, whole foods… I suggest you continue to do so and re-consider cake as part of your curriculum.

And one more comment – I think it’s pretty irresponsible to encourage kids to make evil faces on their food, write nasty comments on their trays, post pictures of it on the internet. Ever heard of constructive criticism? What if you were to draw faces all over a student’s paper because you didn’t like their work? Again, let’s be role models here, not instigators.

Comment by Jane

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