Thursday, March 4, 2010

Blogger of the Day: Mrs. Q, Fed Up With School Lunch

A school teacher is eating the cafeteria lunch every day and blogging it. The blog is called Fed Up With School Lunch (via).

Her Blogger profile sums up the concept:



Eating school lunch just like the kids every day in 2010
I love the blog's straightforwardly descriptive writing style, accompanied by a photo of each lunch. There's a similar aesthetic to Jim's Journal, the comic strip compiled in the book I Went to College and It Was OK. The entries should be boring, but instead they're fascinatingly ordinary, radically mundane.

For instance, here's the first lunch in the project:
As far as school lunches go, this one is pretty good. The meat sauce over penne was passable and the green beans were ok too. I ate all of main stuff, but I only took one bite of the breadstick, which was too chewy yet semi-hard, and the blue raspberry thingy....I took one suck and knew it was not for me. Of course I drank all the chocolate milk.

School lunch at my school/workplace always comes in these strange little packages. I have to say that it is very hard to open them. I have to stab them with the spork multiple times.
You can see the tags for each different food in the sidebar: " . . . milk . . . pear . . . salisbury steak . . . "

What do the vegetarian students do?
There is a vegetarian (or non-meat) option every day. If you want that food item, most days you have to request it specifically because it is not set out.
Mrs. Q had a physical exam right before starting the blog, and once she's done with it she'll compare the results of her next physical. But she isn't worrying about her health:
The other meals I eat during the average day are healthy. I have the money to make good meals for my family that are from fresh and frozen ingredients, many organic. So I actually think it's funny that people are concerned about me.
What she is concerned about is the lack of recess. The only physical activity is gym class, and that's only once a week. A commenter on Metafilter asks:
How can this be allowed? The parents should be up in arms at the school board.
Mrs. Q points out several ways the lack of recess is stifling to kids' development. I don't see how the kids are expected to focus in class, hour after hour, when the day is broken up only by lunch. And lunch is only "20 minutes to eat including getting through line and clean up"!

The blog seems pretty popular, and the comments sections are very active. She says she expected the blog to be utterly unknown, getting "5-10 hits per week"; instead, she's "averaging 1,000 to 4,000 per day." (By comparison, this blog usually gets between 100 and 200 visitors a day.)

In fact, she's worried that this popularity could cost her her job, which is why she's anonymous and reveals scant personal details about herself (she lives in Illinois and has a husband and child). She says:
I'm blogging anonymously because I like my job and getting a paycheck. But I'm still putting my livelihood on the line by speaking up. . . .

I feel a lot of guilt and turmoil about what I'm doing here. I'm waiting for the moment I'm called to the principal's office and let go. I do believe it's a matter of "when" not "if" they both find out and it's curtains for me and then of course the project. I want them to know that the project is not about individuals in one school, but about a country full of children who need better food models.

I'm getting a lot of requests for interviews from major newspapers and other news outlets (I have done other interviews for media with smaller distribution and/or all online). Many assure me of my anonymity, but if I get major attention even without my real name, well, someone is going to put 2 + 2 together. All that is needed is one person sending one email to all lunch room managers and asking, "Who's eating school lunch every day?"
After reading all that, I have to feel slightly guilty for drawing a bit more attention to her blog. But this is an important and oddly beautiful project. I find it hard to imagine her losing her job over it. If she does, she should be able to compensate for the loss of income by getting a book deal.