Shocking truths about cafeteria lunches

We wanted to share a recent Facebook post that prompted a powerful comment regarding cafeteria food.  Keep reading beyond that to learn some shocking truths about school cafeteria food. 

FB Post - Don’t trust the cafeteria lunches. Educate your children about healthy food choices and get them involved in the kitchen. Try our healthy Mac & Cheese recipe @ and avoid trans fats! -


‪Katie - I worked in K-12 school cafeteria for seven years. It's very unhealthy food to be serving. What makes it worse is that it is government regulated. This food has to be served. I never ate school lunch while I worked there and was yelled at by the State inspector for it. I was told I had to eat it to show a good example to the students. I told her no, and I didn't. - September 7    

Susan Arruda‪ - Thanks for posting, Katie! It is shocking to learn what gets pushed out as so called, "food" for our precious kids! People need to realize that the food industry is strictly about profit, and not health, and it is up to the consumer to get educated! GOOD FOR YOU TAKING A STAND!!!! It takes courage to stand up for what you believe and for what is right! Few people have the guts to do that! Wtg, Katie!


Source: Elizabeth, author at Mamavation

If I asked you what you had for lunch, you could probably tell me without hesitation. If I asked what your child had for lunch at school, could you answer just as easily? Even if you know the lunch menu, what’s actually in the food may be a mystery. A look at one school’s burger found it had 26 ingredients. Among those 26 components, it contained disodium inosinate, a flavor additive that can spike heart rate, and caramel color, which contains sulfites and ammonia. Labdoor Magazine explains “processing carbohydrates with ammonia under high temperatures can produce a toxic byproduct, 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI), that has been linked to convulsions and an increased incidence of cancer in animal testing.” These types of chemical compounds, and many others, are prevalent in the processed foods served at schools in these processed foods to avoid feeding your children.

The topic of school lunches is without a doubt a hot button issue for a number of reasons. It has become a political issue as of late, an ongoing issue of cost for public schools, but most importantly it is an issue that directly involves the well being of our children. 

Even if actual fast food isn’t allowed in schools, that doesn’t mean the fast food companies aren’t infiltrating school grounds. Even Mamavation’s own founder discovered her son’s school was giving the students a coupon for a free McDonald’s breakfast. It’s a common practice.

Here are some valid reasons you should avoid school lunches like the plague and opt for a wholesome packed lunch instead:


You would expect the food your growing child is served at school to surpass fast food standards, right? Well it turns out the meat supplied to some schools would be turned down at fast food chains. The National Education Association points out “fast-food chains test their meat five to ten times more often than the USDA for bacteria and would reject meat that the USDA deems safe for consumption.” Speaking of rejected meat, a ground beef supplier had a salmonella outbreak and retailers recalled the meat. However, the schools were still shipped the ground beef produced at the facility during the time of the outbreak.


Schools aren’t just full of the ABCs. Toxic GMOs are everywhere when it comes to the foods served. The carton of low-fat milk is from cows fed GMO feed. The à la carte french fries are fried in GMO oil and the potatoes themselves could be GMO by next year. The “healthy” scoop of corn on the plate is the only food registered as a pesticide by the EPA. Most GM corn is modified to kill pests and does so by bursting the stomachs of bugs who feed on the corn, called Bt corn. Although humans are built differently than insects, this particular type of corn is likely to affect our bodies as well. The Bt toxin has been found in human blood suggesting that it is disrupting the bacteria in our digestive system and bodies. Bacteria is essential to our well being, and actually outnumbers the amount of human cells in our body. The human microbiome project is just now discovering the DNA of our bacteria and to what degree a disruption in the bacteria affects our bodies.
As a parent, you can ensure your children are not eating GMOs by packing a lunch with foods that are Non-GMO project verified or USDA certified organic.


School lunches are made with conventional food, meaning not certified organic ingredients. Even seemingly healthier fruits and vegetables served up are cause for concern. Foods that are not organic are sprayed with persistent pesticides, which we pointed out as endocrine disrupters above. New studies also link endocrine disrupters in our environment to at least 5% of autism cases in Europe.
By opting for certified organic food in your kids’ lunch, you ensure you are not feeding them GMOs, pesticides, animal products tainted with hormones or antibiotics, or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives which can lead to allergic reactions and hyperactivity.


The idea that school lunches are unappetizing has been around as long as I can remember. Stories of slop on a plate and bland food are abundant. When children are served food that doesn’t taste good, they won’t eat it and will be left hungry and lacking energy. 

These "food" images (and I use the term, food very loosely) are reminiscent to hospital and airline food; ugh! 

These "food" images (and I use the term, food very loosely) are reminiscent to hospital and airline food; ugh! 


Artificial colors and flavors are in many of the foods served at U.S. schools. From the pop-tarts to the chicken sandwich there are numerous artificial ingredients. The side effects from consuming these ingredients can include allergic reactions as well as behavioral issues. Children can experience worsened ADD and ADHD symptoms which can directly affect the ability to focus and learn at school.  Excess sugar consumed can also lead to behavioral issues as well as a sugar crash later.


In addition to preventing our children from being able to focus, the unhealthy foods served at schools are a contributing factor to childhood obesity. Ironically, obesity and being overweight has been linked to poor academic performance. In a 2009 study by The Journal of School Health, the overweight and obese were found to have lowered IQs, reduced attention span, impaired memory retention and increased clumsiness. The chemical compounds phthalates, found in conventional fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat, and their packaging or plastic cutlery are also linked to a lower IQ.



It may seem like more work to pack a healthy lunch for your child each day, but you don’t have to go it alone. In fact, kids are more likely to eat food they helped to prepare. Children who help cook are also more likely to be healthy eaters as adults. The benefits to cooking with kids doesn’t end there. Having their helping hands in the kitchen raises self esteem, provides family bonding time, teaches a much needed life skill, and can help making concepts like math easier to understand.

Susan Arruda