School Lunch Investigation – Part 2

Yesterday, while I was tying my notes from the North Thurston School District’s Food Specifications Binder the House Appropriations Committee was passing a bill that allowed schools to “opt out” of the White House nutritional guidelines.

The School Nutrition Association, a group composed of school nutritionists, praised the legislation. The group, which receives financing from several food companies that originally opposed the nutrition standards, said the cost of the new rules had led to a decrease in the number of schools participating in the federal meals programs. The group said the rules had also led to tons of wasted food because children were not eating the healthier alternatives. – NY Times

It is easy to see why local nutrition specialists, such Director of Food and Nutrition Services Alicia Neal, are unable to get healthy meals into our schools. There is no support from above so we will have to provide lateral support. Enough parents offering real solutions can make a difference.
For now let’s look at what the kids are currently eating. I have highlighted the known GMOs and listed sugar and sodium levels where available.


The elementary school lunch menu for Tuesday, May 6:
Breakfast: Egg and Cheese Sandwich

This seems likely to include the Cargill Solutions pre-cooked frozen breakfast egg patty.
Ingredients: whole eggs, water, dry whole milk, soybean oil, salt, xanthum gum, citric 
acid. Sugar content – 1g

Lunch: Chicken Nuggets or Cottage Cheese cup and garlic toast, fruit and veggie bar
        Homestyle breaded nuggets– 367mg sodium

Chicken, water, isolate soy protein product, dried whole egg, sugar, reduced sodium sea salt, sodium phosphates, white pepper, onion powder, garlic powder
Breaded with whole wheat flour, enriched wheat flour, salt, sugar, spices, leavening, dextrose, garlic powder, soybean oil (extract of paprika)
Battered with: water, whole wheat flour, modified corn starch, sugar, salt, onion powder, leavening (calcium acid) pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate), garlic powder and chicken broth, dextrose, yeast extract, maltdextrin, enriched wheat flour, mononitrate, soybean oil, natural and artificial flavors, lactic acid, extractives of paprika

        Cottage Cheese Cup (fat free includes 5g of sugar per serving)

Ingredients: Cultured Nonfat Milk, Nonfat Milk, Salt, Grade A Whey, Artificial Color, Potassium Sorbate (to retard spoilage) Guar Gum, Citric Acid, Corn Starch, Natural Flavor, Polysorbate 80, Sodium Phosphate, Potassium Phosphate, Vitamin A Palmitate*, Enzymes. *Not found in regular cottage cheese.    

        Garlic Toast – this also included half a page of ingredients, but you get the idea

What about the kids who make “healthy choices such as salads? The produce is non-organic of course and therefore laden with pesticides. The fruit cups come in either juice or light syrup (likely genetically modified corn syrup) and the salad dressings are a concoctions of dangerous chemicals and genetically modified sugar. For example:   

      Hidden Valley ranch dressing – 380mg sodium, 1g sugar

Soybean oil, water, egg yolk, sugar, salt, cultured nonfat buttermilk, natural flavors (milk, soy), less than 1% of spices, dried garlic, dried onion, vinegar, phosphoric acid, xanthum gum, modified food starch, monosodium glutamate, artificial flavors, disodium phosphate, sorbic acid and calcium disodium EDTA as preservatives, disodium insomate, disodium guanylate, 

     Ventura Foods Honey Mustard Dressing – 5g sugar

Soybean oil, water, corn syrup, honey, distilled vinegar, prepared mustard (vinegar, water, mustard seed, salt, turmeric, spices, paprika, garlic, natural flavors), whole egg, salt, high fructose corn syrup, anchovies, hydrolyzed soy and corn protein and onion, tamarinds, garlic, cloves, chili pepper, natural flavors, shallot, xanthum gum, propylene glycol, alginate, parsley, spices, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (as preservatives)

Let us not forget the beverages. 

   Darigold fat free chocolate milk– 210mg sodium, 25g sugar

Fat free milk, sugar, cocoa processed with alkali, cocoa, salt, carrageenan, guar gum, vanillin, vitamin a palmitate, vitamin d3 

  Darigold lowfat chocolate milk – 230mg sodium, 29g sugar

Lowfat Milk, Sucrose, Nonfat Milk, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Salt, Carrageenan, Vanillin, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D3. Gluten Free

And for the end of the year field trips. For those kids who do not bring their own brown bag lunches they can expect something along the lines of a sunbutter and jelly sandwhich. Sounds simple enough right? Let’s look at the ingredients:
  Sunwise Foods sunflowerseed butter and grape jelly – 250mg sodium, 14g sugar

Bread: Whole Grain White Flour, Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic acid), Water, Sugar, Soybean
Oil, Yeast, Wheat Gluten, Salt, Malt, Mono & Diglycerides, Calcium Propionate (to preserve freshness), dough conditioners (L-Cysteine, Ascorbic Acid). Sunflower Seed Butter: Sunflower Seed, Sugar, Mono & diglycerides, Salt, Natural Mixed Tocopherols to preserve freshness. Grape Jelly: Corn Syrup, Water, Concord Grape Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Citrate

That is a lot of sugar for one sandwich. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 10% of daily calorie intake should come from sugars. The USDA guidelines for health advise that a 4-8 year old child should consume 130 calories, or about 3 teaspoons a day. This increases to 5 to 8 teaspoons for the 9-18 age range.

Now for the math. Four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon.

This means our fat-free milk has 6.25 teaspoons of sugar! If you add the field trip sandwich you have exceeded the daily sugar intake of a high school senior. Remember that this is just part of ONE meal. I found copious amounts of sugar in the foods I looked at: tomato soup (11g), burritos (3g), french bread pizza (4g), sweet potato fries (3g) and yogurt (13g). Sugar causes systemic inflammation which, when chronic, can lead to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. In the short-term the empty calories lead to nutrient-deficiency, stresses the liver, addicts children causing them to crave more and inhibits their ability to learn.

Another health concern is that most, if not all, of this sugar is genetically modified. Other GMO ingredients include corn and soy products. These ingredients are genetically engineered to withstand the pesticides that are sprayed on the fields and have been found to contain three to four times the pesticide load as conventional produce. If this is not concerning enough, GMO products have been increasing linked to “leaky gut” a term for the destruction of the intestinal lining which allow food particles to enter the bloodstream. This accounts for the more than 200% increase in food allergies since GMOs entered the food supply. Nearly every food label I looked at contained at least one GMO in its ingredient list

There are plenty of over concerning chemicalized ingredients in the above “foods” but I think it is clear where I am going with this. The food we are serving to our students is in direct opposition to most of our goals for them. Instead of nourishing our children we are causing them to be sick and unable to learn to their full capacity.

This begs the question, what is the next step in this process. I have a meeting with the director of nutrition services next week. Before that time please send me any questions or any solutions that you would like me to take to her. You can comment here or contact me directly at



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