Today, President Obama signed a massive school lunch reform bill into law*.
The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a $4.5 billion measure, provides more free school meals to the pool, and gives the government more power to decide what foods can offered in those meals, as well as in school vending machines and fundraisers during school hours.
It passed with bipartisan support. Which is good, because four years ago, I sampled the school lunches at Seattle public schools and was horrified by what I found...
Today's entrée was Somali Spaghetti ($1.75 students, $3.50 for adults, free with proof of low parental income). Here is Restaurants and Institutions Magazine describing the entrée: "Spaghetti is on the fall menu at Seattle Public Schools cafeterias but this version includes neither red sauce nor meatballs... the concoction of noodles, beef, fresh carrots, and potatoes is spiked with cilantro."
The problem is that Restaurants and Institutions Magazine obviously never tasted Somali Spaghetti. There is a tasteless but ground-beef-laden red sauce decorating the mushy, overcooked pasta, and the cilantro did indeed "spike" the dish—if Glade were to make a cilantro air freshener, odds are it would taste like this. On the side was a "wheat" roll that was more a dry hunk of Wonder Bread with a light tan, an iceberg-lettuce salad with one mayonnaise-y choice of dressing with the consistency of a bodily fluid, a banana, and some chocolate milk (free with meal, 40 cents purchased separately). There were also cut raw vegetables such as broccoli, but after noticing the teacher in line ahead of me grab a handful and plop them on her tray with her bare hands, I skipped those.
I still vividly remember the awful experience of eating this food. Let's hope things change for the better.
* Related: Really? In 2010, the President is still making if-my-wife-gets-unhappy-I'm-sleeping-on-the-couch jokes? Did I fall into an alternate universe where The Lockhorns is considered high culture or something?