I'm thrilled to announce a big win for school food transparency!
District 76 parents and staff now have access to Preferred Meals' school food ingredient lists (product specs). At this time, parents or staff simply login and request product specifications available through the District's website shown above. "As we work with Preferred Meals to get additional information about the ingredients in the food provided through the meal program, we will be able to include that on the webpage."
How awesome is that!? I just signed up myself and I'm looking forward to getting updates!
Here is a link to the District 76 breakfast and lunch menu information page:
Chef Hollie Greene wrote such a wonderful blog post yesterday about her Joyful12™ giveaway and about how all we got connected a few months ago. I just had to share it with you all!
Click here to hop on over and read her post! Check out her incredible site and learn about how YOU can win a lifetime membership into her amazing Joyful12™ learning lab community!
Our giveaway is now extended to March 2nd!
Here's how to enter:
1. Follow @52tries on twitter (Not on twitter? Well make it your new #52tries!!!! HA! I use Twitter more than anything else nowadays to get my information. It's better than the rest, really.)
2. Tweet: "@Joyfoodly inspires me to _____ (fill in the blank). @52tries #giveaway #joyful12
Hollie is indeed a kindred spirit and a friend that I surely hope to meet someday! OH would we have fun cooking together!!
Cheers to keeping it "real" together in the kitchen!!!!
Thank you so much Hollie - It's so much FUN spreading the food love with you and Tiffany over at 52tries:) I think you'll really enjoy hearing how much of a impact you are having on team Shifdog in my diary post tomorrow.
I wanted to reach out and say how thankful I am to have met with you all Friday morning at West Oak to discuss increased food transparency, added sugar and your innovative allergy systems menu. It was truly lovely to meet, shed our computer terminals and talk face to face. There is no doubt we are all working in the same direction.
I am thrilled to know that our district families will have full ingredient transparency in 30 days and that you’ll be following up with us on the challenge of including added sugar content information. I am also excited for our school board to continue the conversation regarding the allergy systems menu and am hopeful that these cleaner, more organic options might be accessible to our families in the future.
There is such frustration over food. I could feel it from us all. Questions and debates swirl around what we should eat, what we shouldn’t… conflicting messages everywhere we look… Thank you for sitting at the same table with such optimism and shared concern. What has become clearer than ever is the need for more real food over fake food ingredients, less sugar and food education for all. I am so inspired to hear that Preferred Meals is doing everything possible to remove these controversial ingredients from your school food menu. I believe that not only will these changes positively affect the children in this district who rely on us for 2/3 meals a day, but in the long term, these changes will position your company as a food service provider who can deliver more nutrient dense, real food to school districts across the country. A transition every school food company should be focusing on in order to meet the evolving consumer demand for cleaner, more nutrient dense food. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the hidden MSG, partially hydrogenated oils and other artificial additives that are still lurking in some of the ingredient lists. I can only imagine the challenges you face in phasing these ingredients out. This important work should be applauded, supported and celebrated at every level.
Thank you again! Have a wonderful weekend and I look forward to continuing our conversation!
JOFR Super Ambassador
The challenge Preferred Meals faces with required calorie amounts (fat is regulated and sugar is not) could be changing! I am hopeful the new 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) recommendations may lead to some regulatory changes that will allow food companies more flexibility and send the sugar packing - This just in:
When this mysterious phenomenon rings my bell, it's like getting zoomed ahead.
The Joyful12™ project landed in my kitchen like a gift from above this past week. My family table has been struggling lately and I feel like it swooped in (just in time) to keep my family table growing and evolving in the direction I want.
I will tell you all about it in my full 52tries | & Company diary post coming up tomorrow. In the meantime, I want to introduce you to my family table’s new fairy godmother. I’m goobers for Joyfoodly® and her Joyful12™. It has me swinging to the mullies again.
Who is JoyFoodly®?
Chef Hollie Greene is a classically trained chef from New York City's French Culinary Institute. She has taught over 2,000 children in New York and California through her work with non-profit programs such as Rachel Ray’s Yum-O!, Mayor Bloomberg and Mary J. Blige. She is a Professional Expert for the State of California’s Healthy CA Kids Initiative and has worked as an Education Director for The Sylvia Center and Chef in Residence at NYC School through Wellness in the Schools to improve School Food.
What is the Joyful12™?
It’s Chef Hollie’s uniquely fun "year long online crash course to eating in season” designed for busy parents and individuals looking to get more fruits and veggies into their family's diet. Her learning lab is full of engaging videos that invite the young and old to chop, cook and try new foods. Members gain access to a vibrant community forum to ask questions and share experiences as they evolve and gain a better understanding about seasonal cooking and eating. Click here to watch more!
Who is the Joyful12™ designed for?
Everyone! Parents, guardians, grandparents or any family member who is interested in learning and teaching children how to cook and how to enjoy eating fruits and vegetables “as part of a joyful, balanced lifestyle”. Recipes and meal planning suggestions are created for both adults and kids in mind. Chef Hollie does not believe in “kid food”! Check out these easy to read, down to earth E-letters: Radishes + Rhubarb | Peas + Avocado
Does the Joyful12™ include special diets?
You will find extensive dairy free, nut free, egg free and vegan recipes. Also, all recipes are tested to be gluten free.
Does the Joyful12™ extend out of the home and into the school classroom?
Heck yea! The Joyful12™ School Project is the charitable, 501(c)3 arm project of JoyFoodly®. The crowdfunding campaign runs through February 26th for their first pilot, and after that, the project will raise funds via grants and foundations. The Joyful12™ School Project is sponsored by the Social Good Fun, 501(c)3 which aims to improve the health of children by providing cooking education to every parent, teacher and child in school communities through a lifetime membership to the Joyful 12™. Basic cooking skills are taught first focusing on vegetables and fruit. You can learn more about this incredible program here: https://www.barnraiser.us/projects/the-joyful12-school-project.
Beam me up Scottie!
AND!!! Chef Hollie is partnering with us on 52tries.com to giveaway two LIFETIME memberships to her Joyful 12™ program (worth $48 each!) - For a chance to win, follow us on twitter - @52tries - then check out this Saturday’s post for full entry details and info!!
My printer is tired. I am prepping for Friday's #schoolfoodbrainstorming meeting with Preferred Meals and District 76. Please leave comments below if you have any concerns or ideas you would like me to bring along to the meeting! In addition to driving positive change, I hope this evolving story is a source of inspiration and hope for other parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators and any individuals who are interested in improving school food education and school food transparency. Our teachers and schools need our help in reaching our kids. I'm sick of hearing that it's the teacher or the school district's fault. I have a family FULL of teachers, not to mention a bus full of teacher friends. It's getting harder and harder to teach and reach students (for a variety of reasons... But I'm just sticking to food ed here). In our case with Abbie, it was not the teachers. It was her food. Instruction was not meeting her "needs" because of the food was not meeting her needs. I just didn't know. Once I cleaned it up for Abbie, her brain opened up. This mind blowing experience is what drives my passion. I am not keeping this information to myself. There are other kids out there whose brains could use a roto rooter too. This is not about food control, food judgment or food snobbery. This is about food transparency, food education, freedom of choice and the power of the consumer. Schools are the biggest restaurants in town and I think it's time we took a closer look at the ingredient lists to see if they are serving our children for increased academic success, not the other way around. Let this article bring you up to speed: Connecting Attention and Nutrition Food transparency = a win win for all: The kids win. The schools win. The companies win. Well, that is for the companies who change with the tides. Food companies who are meeting the demands for cleaner, more organic food are being rewarded and those who are keeping up with the "status quo" of chemical companies who are being left in the dust. Read about the food companies who keep the chemicals + fake food = real BIG profit losses (Robyn O'Brien) I hope to discuss the following on Friday: 1. Fake food vs real food ingredients: D76 Preferred Meal Systems - Can we improve the quality of breakfast and lunch offerings within budget to increase sales? 2. Food transparency: Can the District provide full online ingredient list access to parents before June? 3. Can the "Allergy Systems Menu" be offered to all D76 families? At extra cost? How can we make this option accessible to all with or without a doctor's note. 4. When will added sugar amounts be provided to the D76? Is D76 responsible for calculating added sugar? How & when can we get this vital food education information on sugar to our parents and staff? We do have some more eating to do after school and most of us like to eat dessert from time to time. The amount of added sugar is especially alarming in our school breakfasts. According to my quick math (on an OLD menu, albeit same items) PM breakfasts range from 27g of added sugar up to 46g of sugar. According to the Fed Up Challenge Sugar Facts, 4g of sugar = 1 tsp. The American Heart association recommends that children should not exceed 5-8 tsp's in a DAY (20-32g per day). So, we're already at a minimum of 6.5 tsp's of added sugar BEFORE they even have a snack or lunch at school. Got chocolate milk? That'll put you over the limit in one 8 oz box. What's a Mom and Dad to do at home!? That is one tough, restrictive menu to be handed in my kitchen. Here is what I have come across in my search for information. More than you need I am sure, but the following is what District 148 offered online in 2011. This simple PDF format will be something I suggest our District can offer families from our District website. (It sounds like PMs website is still "under construction" for full ingredient food transparency.) In the meantime, let's take some pictures and upload them for anyone who would like to look into the school food ingredients.
District 148 - 2011 Preferred Meals spec sheet fruit and veggies Partially hydrogenated oil + high fructose corn syrup much? WOW - Major MEGA props to PM as these 2011 menu items have been reformulated and updated to meet the growing demand of parents and school districts for cleaner, more organic and local school food. Here is the most updated information I could find to access current PMs menus in our country. It took A LOT of searching. Nobody is granting much access to school food ingredient lists in America: To find this, first you must cut and paste the following into a google search (it won't let me link it for you): "preferred meals systems product specification sheet 2014" Next, the following should come up 3rd in your list. Click to download: "Elementary and Comm Ed Labels. pdf"
(July 14, 2014) So what do our menus look like now? I don't know. I still haven't gotten my hands on anything and there is NOTHING current online. So crazy. I have requested that D76 provide me the ingredient lists on Friday. I am looking forward to bringing home a "packet." I'm most concerned with PM's claim that artificial flavors and MSG have been taken out of the menu. An ingredient does not have to be labeled with "Monosodium Glutamate" (MSG) for it to be in the product. Check out this link for MSG's "spy names". Unfortunately, companies are still able to get away with MSG in products under different names. There are still a shocking amount of MSG "spy names" listed and I'll bring these to everyone's attention on Friday. I'm so happy to see the menu's progress over the past 5 years AND I think there is still room for some progress. Baby steps. High fives. And we can do better. As I do not have our D76 - 2015 menus in hand just yet, I am going to have to wait before I assume anything. I am fighting for cleaner, less sugar laden, more nutrient dense school food for ALL of our students so that they can perform at their highest potential in the classroom. This should be our highest priority, our shared responsibility in our District's quest to support our families and teachers, to inspire higher learning and to raise our District's academic performance. Below is a comment I received from PM on my recent blot post. I am so excited to hear back from them and I'm thrilled to get the opportunity to sit and brainstorm alongside them and the District. I am so impressed by the menu changes I can see between 2011 and 2014 and they should be applauded!!! I'm not sure who should be responsible for providing me with ingredient information and added sugar content (the vendors are not "required" to give that to PM? WHAT!?), but somebody better.figure.it.out. It sounds like the District has had this information all along, which is highlyaggravating as I/we asked for this information in several past Wellness Committee meetings. We were told that they would get the information from PM. Shame on me for being complacent. "Who's on first?"
*** Hello Lindsey,
Thank you for reaching out to us on your blog! We love and share your passion in providing healthy foods to kids. Our menu website is relatively new and we are still working on a way to tie in ingredients with specific products. Our menu system calculates nutrients as part of the planning process but ingredients are not part of the database yet. As for the nutrients that show, we do not include sugar because our vendors are not required to provide that information to us. Since some do provide it and some don’t, our calculation is inconsistent and we wouldn’t want to pass along incomplete information. We do want parents to be able to view ingredients if desired and we provide updated product spec sheets to the district on a regular basis. Also, each case of product delivered to the schools is labeled with all ingredients. I’m sure if you visit the school they will be able to provide that information to you. You will be pleased to know that we have eliminated from our products many of the ingredients that are likely a concern to you, such as MSG, artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and fats, bleached flour, high fructose corn syrup, palm/coconut and partially hydrogenated oils and more. In addition, by regulation, our menus are calorie, fat and sodium controlled by age group and contain 0 grams of trans fat. Since our menus are calorie controlled, we don’t add extra sugar and fat and always choose low fat, lean meats and cheese. Items are baked and not fried, all breads/ breadings /crusts are whole grain, juices / fruit cups have no added sugar or syrup and juice is always 100% juice. Did you know school meals are very highly regulated? Check out the USDA’s website for more information: http://www.fns.usda.gov/…/national-school-lunch-program-nslp As for our Allergy Meal System, this is available to the district as an option and should be discussed with the school. Offering an alternate meal may require additional planning and preparation for school staff, resulting in higher cost and additional labor, so making this available to all students would be a district decision. A representative from Preferred Meals is always available to attend a meeting with the district if you would like to discuss further.
Thank you! ***
BIG thanks in advance to all the individuals who weigh in at the comments section below. Regardless of your school district, your voices COUNT and together, we can make change... One school district at a time! Fighting for food transparency + food ed, Stay tuned, Lindsey JOFR Super Ambassador ps Check out this fake food ingredient I just discovered from the lists: Cinnamaldehyde. Instead of adding real cinnamon, they add this "pesticide" to give applesauce and other foods a cinnamon essence. GROSS.
i honestly would LOVE to let my kids have school food. it would be so lovely if i knew what exactly was IN the food so that i could trust that my kids (especially miss gut-brain sensitive abbie) weren't overloading on fake food additives and added sugar.
currently our school food service, preferred meals provides basic nutritional information, excluding (what i consider the MOST IMPORTANT) added sugar content and ingredient lists online for parents and staff. in my digging to find information, i also discovered they offer an amazing "allergy meal system" for students with food sensitivities. of course, you need a doctor's note (why can't this menu be offered to all students even if at extra cost?) and i have no idea if our school district even offers it to families at all. i still haven't heard back.
i am dumbfounded that our wellness committee was not informed of this option.
here's the letter i sent off this morning to our district business manager. i haven't heard back from an email i sent off a week ago. i'm posting it here today in hopes that it may inspire another parent, staff or food revolutionary out there to ask the most basic food truth question: "what is in school food?"
as a parent, i would sure like to gain access to that wonderful allergy menu. my kids just might like some of those options every once and awhile and i'd love to have the day off or two from making lunches every morning!
I hope all is well! I have a few questions and thoughts for you regarding our school food provider. Is "Jane" still the contact at Preferred Meals? You mentioned that there has been a change of personnel and I would like to get the ball rolling with getting our District families full menu ingredient disclosure plus added sugar content online. It is simply unacceptable that this information is not available to parents and staff.
In addition, is the special "Allergy Meal System" available to our student population? If so, there needs to be information sent out to families regarding this amazing school food option. If not, we need to find out how to bring it into the food offerings.
I am blown away by this menu option and am hoping it is something we can promote to the district. Also, I would also like to investigate the possibility of getting this option available at extra cost to parents who would like access to cleaner, more organic food.
i dreamt up this sister family post concept before the new year. it's still evolving in my head as i write more thoughts into my #52tries diary today.
i'm dreaming of connection.
katie and i want to connect our family tables across the country (denver and chicago) and in turn connect ourselves, our kids and our husbands around food and family.
we cooked up the pollan family cookbook's halibut en papillote, aka "pooches of fun" (katie and i both used cod). mom and dad were out visiting her on the zucchini chip night and her in laws + bro and sis in law were visiting on "pooch" night. so it was double family fun! god i wish i cooked like that when my kids were little. they.eat.everything. i wish i could teleport and squeeze the dickens out of them. or switch kids (just for a week) ...that would be fun. maybe you can kick the picky out of them. ha! i'm actually serious.
this meal was not on my chalkboard of meal planning for the week. i'm saving these "sister family table" adventures just for the mullies. just me and katie, the dreamers of this coo-coo place.
chris laughed at me when i put the pooches of fun on the table. he made me so mad. how could he laugh at me? in front of the kids!? what will the kids think? if dad is laughing, does that mean that this food for sure sucks?
i opened up the pooches with great fanfare, chris is still laughing at me. the kids' faces screw up. i am ready to flip the table. but i'm trying to be sweet and positive and encouraging with this new recipe. please like it you ingrates! i slaved over this! a restaurant would charge, like, $20 bucks each!!!
i took off the paper from everyone's plates and they all just sit there poking the fish and veggies like its some kind of alien substance of poo. little shi*ts. all of them. sweetness gone.
i start eating and it's truly divine. mac looks at me and starts eating to please mom, but then ends up truly liking it. chris has to sit next to tommy to feed him. abbie starts crying at several points to our, "EAT. JUST TRY IT ABBIE! EAT" yelling. chris says it's actually really good but is super annoyed with me for putting so much food on everyone's plate. "it's so wasteful you know".
at some point, i realized our family table was in emotional shambles. i decided to start making jokes. we all started laughing. abbie went from wanting to die at the table to being being silly in 2 seconds flat. i stopped yelling at her to eat.
you can see in the final few pictures how the night ended. how it got there, i didn't know at the time, but i sure do now after writing this week's 52tries post.
i'm letting shit go so we can actually see each other through the food (and my ego) at our family table.
#52tries was a hashtag dreamt up by tiffany, for a meal planning quest sparked up by me.
together, we decided it was so much bigger than us.
so we created something for all of us.
welcome to 52tries.com (we explain how it all went down)
read tiffany's week 3 post here and my week 3 post here.
tuesday will continue to be our joint posting day!
it's the new home of our 2015 meal planning adventures and many others. read about our team of contributors here (and watch for it to grow!) #52tries can be about all sorts of things challenging, meal planning and otherwise!
my girlfriend tiffany and i have been busy, manic little beavers, collaborating away this past week. she built the website, started the twitter account and crafted our pinterest page + boards.
i tell you what, this girl is good.
welcome to our #52tries party.
“are we all lost stars, trying to light up the dark?”
let’s begin again, each week.
light me up with #52tries.
the mullies will continue to be a cozy, personal home of my growing food rev adventures, the place where i post whatever i want you lovelies to all know about, and most especially "the mullies sister kitchen" adventures coming soon this week or next! katie and i are on a mission to link & grow our family tables together this year.
each week, i'll compile and share my chalkboard scribble of a meal plan + the best pictures and notes of how it all went down the hatches.
the "i don't like it-ness"
the love of food.
oh gawd help me.
hold on to your butts, cuz i'm trying to get even more organized around three theme nights:
vegetarian/vegan (meatless... nuff said)
comfort food (cozy up and sigh as you stuff your face full of goodness)
food legacies (famous dishes from around the globe or stateside; let's travel back in time; cooking with famous chefs; food trends... i want to broaden my family's appreciation and understanding of FOOD (and my own of course!) and all the glorious culture that surrounds it... hello world).
here's how this meal planning ball got rolling and i want to introduce you to my team of besties that may try & make appearances over the next 52 weeks!
my sister katie
we decided to begin connecting our kitchens over break. to cook the same recipe, take pics, perhaps make a video or two and see how it all shakes down in our mullies kitchens. i love her to death and as the co-inventor of our childhood fantasy land dubbed "the mullies," this is exactly where i want her to be with me since she lives in denver! she has two kids and i have three spanning 2 years to 10 years old. her husband loves to cook and eats everything; mine does not cook and is extremely picky like my kids. i am hoping her kids' thumbs up will inspire my kids to try a few more bites along the way when i push their culinary taste buds. i cannot wait to begin connecting our family tables and the evolution should be a hoot!
my girlfriend tiffany, aka "bunny"
she was the genius who suggested i commit to a meal plan blog every week. it's our new year's resolution and this is how we're gonna keep it! meal planning is one of those things that is NOT hard, i simply have NO routine that i stick to and i'm trying to change that. she'll be cooking -vegan.all.day.all.night - along with me and we'll be sharing notes like mad hatters. she is one of my very best friends, my kindred life's sounding board who also lives in across town from my lovely sis. i tell you what, i would not be where.i.am.today without this fancy southern lady. she puts the chic in whatever she looks at (her camp1899 pinterest boards kill me) and i can't wait to cook & bake more vegetarian/vegan meals with her. link up with her on twitter for some bunny good inspiration.
my "far and away" girlfriend terri + global food rev ambassador teammate
we facetime almost every week and email like we've known each other forever. she is my real life cookbook i conspire with! we brainstormed the other day and the meal planning really took shape into a more exciting, thematic structure. she is my mary poppins meets julia child from the netherlands, my heart's closest inspiration and mentor in the kitchen. it's like we share the same brain of energy and we soak each other up. i'm so lucky to be friends with this ridiculously talented executive & private chef and mother of 2. we are "cooking across continents" with each other and working to spread the food rev far and wide. link up with her on instagram, facebook and twitter for food inspiration that will blow your mind.
my girlfriend laura aka "chimmie"
she is my hilarious, nutrition trained, beautiful soulmate who will be joining in on the meal planning fun. she's got two kids, i talk to her almost everyday and well, she's crazy awesome and real and i don't know what i would do without her in my life. she's just under and next to me in indiana and i can't wait for you to get to know her better. when we're not talking about food, we're talking about something crafty... watch out, us 2 chimmie-chonga-choo-choo's = nutballs. you can link up with her on instagram and get inspired.
my girlfriend christina + mundelein food rev teammate
not sure what i would do without this local lovely lady cake friend. check out her 2015 plan: she will use one cookbook per week to meal plan out of = so simple. i cannot WAIT to see what she and her husband will cook up each week with her two beautiful girls. you can find this talented stevenson high school family and consumer science teacher (gourmet foods and clothing design) on instagram. oh christina lets cook + cocktail this week!
my family adores this simple "the pollan family table" baked ziti. i thought i was so clever in putting the ziti in the acorn squashes!!! well come to find out, mr emeril lagasse already thought of that, so hit this link and i won't have to type it all out for you. i pretty much did exactly what he did. so just do it.
i love making my homemade tomato sauce (no fruit plums in this sauce. instead, this one had chopped kale ribs in the soffrito instead of celery, two red peppers, a yellow squash zucchini and baked acorn squash pulp. i anticipated i'd be the only one eating the squash with my pasta so i snuck a bunch in the sauce. i also pureed it until is was silky smooth with my handheld immersion blender. my family likes it better that way and it's extremely versatile with leftovers!
doesn't it make the most beautiful leftover lunch! my raw salad is simply sliced brussel sprouts + avocado + tomatoes + kale + homemade ranch.
those cute little round white things are called "bunapi" mushrooms... and i forgot to put them in... oops.
my family has the most ridiculously sensitive tastebuds ever to the "spicy". i'm not sure what i was thinking when i went to town on the cayenne pepper flakes. oops.
we added plain sheep's milk yogurt (whole foods) to the bowls of chili to tame the heat. that's how i got the kids to eat it... poor chris took about four bites and was done. wouldn't even try the yogurt trick. to the moon alice...
lesson learned. i'll add just a pinch of cayenne next time. someday, someday they'll be able to handle a little heat. it's such AMAZING chili and i definitely will be making it again!
i tamed down the heat with this dish. layered gluten free brown rice lasagna noodles + my leftover tomato sauce + aged manchego cheese (sheep's milk cheese). i like to use sharper, high quality manchego because then i don't have to add as much cheese to get the flavor i want. abbie was the only one who didn't like it.
today starts a new week.
i'll post my new chalkboard on instagram later today taters tots.
and i'll be seeing you mundelein/lake county locals at dakotah's farmer's market on saturday 9am-3pm. i'll be cooking and talking with you about your meal planning ideas around 10am-2pmish or until my food sampling runs out!
mark your calendars and start dreaming of the warm sunshine.