Thursday, February 12, 2015

where are school food ingredient lists?

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! 


Good 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.

Thank you!




  1. I completely agree! Our school program with baby steps has become a lot better. We have access to the monthly menu which includes calorie count and nutrient content. Taking it a step further to include all ingredients used would be SO helpful. Sadly, even labels which say 100% juice may not contain only juice. Love the offer of an allergy meal system, even at an additional cost. Looking forward to hearing the response you get.

  2. 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:

    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!

    1. Thank you Preferred Meals! I am looking forward to meeting with a representative from your company and our school district next week. I am concerned as Fruit Loops was found on the menu last week


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