Those of us who work in public schools have long been aware that school lunches are, shall we say, less than appetizing. I’m sure the cafeteria personnel do the best they can with the resources they are given, but the truth is none of us eats a school-prepared lunch unless we are incredibly desperate. And I, for one, was almost never that desperate. But one educator who became determined to do what she could to call attention to the school lunch problem was Sarah Wu, teacher and a speech pathologist working at Haugan Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois.
One day, Sarah didn’t have enough time before going to work to pack her own lunch. After purchasing a lunch from her school’s cafeteria, she was shocked to see what was being served to the students. To spotlight the problem, every school day during 2010, the determined educator bought a cafeteria lunch, took it back to her classroom, snapped a photo of it, and wrote about it on her online blog. Sarah posted her observations on Fedupwithlunch.com using the pseudonym Mrs. Q. She kept her identity a closely-guarded secret because she was afraid she might get fired if school officials knew she was the one behind the blog. Eventually, her blog attracted thousands of readers, many of whom shared her concern about the quality of school lunches. In 2011, Sarah published a book about her project. The book was entitled “Fed Up with Lunch: The School Lunch Project: How One Anonymous Teacher Survived a Year of School Lunches” (Chronicle, $22.95).
Sarah’s year-long school lunch project was completed years ago, but she continues to write blog posts about food policy, school issues, and personal health. Occasionally she still posts photos and observations of the lunches served each day at her school. To learn more about this gutsy chalkboard champion, read this story published in 2011 in the Chicago Tribune: School Lunch Blogger “Mrs. Q”.