Q & A: Mrs. Q Is Fed Up With School Lunch

Meet Mrs. Q, a teacher from Illinois who has pledged to eat a school lunch each day for the rest of the year and document it on...

Meet Mrs. Q, a teacher from Illinois who has pledged to eat a school lunch each day for the rest of the year and document it on her blog-the tremendously addictive Fed Up: School Lunch Project. She's doing so anonymously, covert cell phone camera in hand, in hopes of also keeping her day job. And in honor of this week's school lunch contest (deadline is midnight on Sunday), a little inspiration to get us away from the corn dogs and tater tots and towards something a bit, well, healthier.

GOOD: Tell us a little bit about how you came up with this idea and what motivated you to finally get started?

MRS. Q: I can't say there was one specific moment where this came to me. It was probably building in my mind for a long time. It's been hard for me to see what the kids are eating and not get down about it. I felt powerless to do anything.

GOOD: What's the response been like so far?

MRS. Q: The response has been pretty overwhelming because many people think this is a great project. I'm sort of shocked. Everyone is cheering me on and I really appreciate the support.

GOOD: Will you continue eating a school lunch each day until June or next January?

MRS. Q: Well, I said that I would eat lunch through the full year 2010 (minus the summer) and that's what I set out to do. Now if I lose my job then I won't have access to "school" lunch and that would be the end of that. So as long as I'm employed and my doctor clears me (and the way to the cafeteria isn't blocked by administrators), I'll stay true to the original goals of the project. My husband has also made it clear that if and when the project stops being fun for me, that I should stop. So far, I'm having fun with it (punctuated by moments of fear that I'll be found out).

What's your background, how old are you, where do you live, what subject do you teach-basically anything you can tell us that won't risk you being identified.

MRS. Q: I'm a mom and I live in Illinois. I feel like I can't reveal more at this time. I really want to share and I probably will once the project is over
\nGOOD: What's been the most surprising thing about the experiment so far?

MRS. Q: The most surprising thing has been the response the blog has received. It seems like it's going viral, which I didn't expect. I didn't think this project would be popular or interesting to many people, and especially not this quickly. I'm hopeful that this is going to make a bigger difference than I expected. The second most surprising thing to me is that recently I enjoyed the pizza, which I never enjoyed in any way in the past. It makes me wonder if I'm getting used to this food. The third most surprising thing is I have gotten very few negative comments. For instance, I thought I'd be getting way more hate mail.

GOOD: Has it led to any weird cravings-tater tots at midnight, fruit cups on weekends?

MRS. Q: The lunch has not led to any weird cravings, but many days I've binged on chocolate after school because I've been so hungry. I think I might be gaining weight.

GOOD: What's your favorite school lunch?

MRS. Q: The tex-mex and chili meals were the best. They resemble comfort foods that I enjoy at home. I'm a casserole kinda gal.

GOOD: What's your general appraisal of the quality of the food we give kids to eat every day at school?

MRS. Q: I can't speak to all lunches served in this country or even all of the lunches within one district. There is so much variability, but I would say that there is a trend that the communities with more money have better lunches. Of course those kids also have the option of packing their own lunch too. Overall, based solely on the comments that the posts receive, I would say that many school lunches are similar to what I see and eat every day.

Remember how in "Super Size Me," Morgan Spurlock, the documentarian, starts getting really sick from all the fast food. Any negative health consequences so far?

MRS. Q: I haven't mentioned this in the blog, but I was diagnosed with IBS two years ago by a gastroenterologist (after testing). Usually I keep it under control by eating a low-dairy and low-wheat diet. But since I can't control my lunches anymore, I have definitely seen an uptick in digestive issues. It's something that I get through and it's no big deal. Yet another reason I'm looking forward to the summer. I haven't decided what I'm going to do, but I'm definitely going to need some kind of cleanse (dairy and wheat and high fructose corn syrup-free kinda thing).

GOOD: How do you maintain your anonymity?

MRS. Q: I eat alone, which is actually fine. Teachers don't get very much time to eat and of course we never go out of the building for lunch so it's not hard to sequester myself.

GOOD: What's your posting protocol?

MRS. Q: I take a very quick pic with my cell phone at lunchtime and after work, I blog by cell. When I came up with the idea for this project in December, one thing I was concerned about was lugging my camera to work every day, then bringing it back home, uploading the pictures to my hard drive, and then uploading them. I almost didn't do the project because I couldn't imagine finding the time to do all those steps every day. So I did some poking around in blogger and I realized that I could blog by cell phone. After that, I started up the project.

GOOD: How much time do you spend blogging each day?

MRS. Q: This is turning out to be quite labor-intensive. Blogging, twittering, and answering e-mail can take up to 1.5 hours per night.

GOOD: Is there a book here?

MRS. Q: The story is developing; I'm living the plot right now. While I consider myself a writer, I'm not a journalist and those are the deep waters I'm entering with this project. The closest thing I came to being a journalist was when I wanted to marry Dan Rather in the fifth grade! Let's see how the project goes and we'll know towards the end if there is book material here.

Illustration by Jo Tran.
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less