Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What's for Lunch: "Grilled Cheese"

By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook

The "grilled cheese" sandwich in D.C. schools is actually two factory-toasted slices of bread surrounding a thick layer of oozing, processed, Velveeta-like cheese that arrives at schools frozen, then is re-heated in a steamer while still in its plastic packaging.

As far as the peas and carrots go, only about half the kids in the lunch room had them on their tray. I saw only one child eating them. She was picking at them with her fingers. The rest went in the trash.

When I asked why they weren't eating them, one 10-year-old replied: "They're nasty."

Even though it clearly is not grilled, it comes in this package with a wacky, animated sandwich on the front and the words "Hot off the Grill," as well as "Grilled Cheese." Do you suppose kids know that their leg is being pulled?

Here's a close-up of what the cheese looks like. There's plenty of it. Some of it gets left behind in the packaging. I saw several kids turning the plastic packaging inside-out and chewing on it to get the rest of the cheese.

There's one boy, considerably overweight, who seems to be the go-to guy for other kids who don't want to eat their food. Here he is working on his second sandwich, thanks to one of his classmates who didn't want hers. When I suggested that one might be enough, he replied: "But I'm hungry."

Notice the chocolate milk to wash it all down.

"Hot off the Grill" comes from Integrated Food Service in Gardena, CA. According to the label on the shipping container, each 5.01-ounce sandwich provides "2.0 oz. equivalent meat alternate and 3.25 servings of bread."
The listed ingredients are:

"Whole grain bread, water, whole wheat flour, enriched fread flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, nicacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), bread base (sugar, soy oil, dextrose, salt wheat flour, mono & diglycerides, calcium stearoyl lactylate, wheat gluten calcium sulfate, diacetyl tartanic acid esters of mono & diglycerides, ammonium sulfate, ethoxylated mono & diglycerides, guar gum, ascorbic acid, monocalcium phosphate, potassium iodite enzyme, calcium peroxide), sugar, yeast, wheat gluten, calcium propionate (preservative). Processed American cheese. Reduced fat American cheese (milk, salt, cheese cultures, enzymes, water, nonfat dry milk, whey, cream, sodium citrate, salt, sorbic acid (added as a preservative), soy lecithin (non sticking agent), APO carotenal (if colored). Soybean oil. THIS PRODUCT MAY CONTAIN COMMODITY CHEESE DONATED BY THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.

"Allergens: wheat, milk, soy."


  1. That was the first word that came to my mind too...Disgusting.
    Not grilled, all processed.

    What are we teaching the kids about food by feeding them like this?

  2. I ate in our school cafeteria today. There was only one choice: prepackaged grilled cheese, "salad" that was really lettuce drenched in dressing and a prepackaged pineapple spear and a choice of 1%, 2% or chocolate milk. It might meet requirements for a school lunch but I can't fathom how it is healthy. Also, most of the kids wouldn't eat the grilled cheese.