Book Review – Lunch Wars

This was a paid review for BlogHer BookClub but the opinions expressed are my own.

Read to the bottom for a chance to win this book.

Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s HealthLunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s Health by Amy Kalafa

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I went into the book LunchWars with a bad attitude. I was flogging myself for my stupidity in willingly volunteering to review a book on nutrition. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that nutrition is not at the high end of my priority list. I grudgingly slogged through the first two thirds of the book and then something inside me changed. It’s not that I am on the same page as the self-proclaimed granola-head author Amy Kafala, but somewhere in the pages of the book I realized that I had been taught some important morsels of nutrition principles that I should be using with my own family. I don’t want to go on all day and I also don’t want to worry my hubby with the idea of going all-organic (would never do that to my grocery budget) but let’s just say there are three things that I am going to try and do better: avoid corn syrup and lessen sugar intake, introduce even more whole grains, and try to incorporate more locally grown fruit and veggies.

That being said, I don’t agree with this LunchWar revolution in the least. I have taken major slack on the BlogHer discussion boards, but I don’t care. It’s not that I want kids to starve or to continue to eat bad foods, it’s just that my political views are conservative. I don’t think that we have an obligation to feed our school children the highest quality of foods at the tax payer’s expense. A lot was said in this book about how it is financially easier to make changes in the schools where the majority of kids are on free school lunches and it made me cringe. No matter what changes are made, someone is going to have to eat the cost difference in these menu changes: the government will do so for the needy and those who aren’t free or reduced lunch qualified will eat the difference for themselves and the government.

I normally have my kids take lunches the majority of the time, but when it doesn’t happen because we are too rushed or the household is in real need of groceries, I appreciate having a relatively inexpensive option for my kids. I don’t care if their pizza is processed or their fruit is canned. I don’t need the highest quality for my own kids ALL of the time, and I most definitely don’t need it for other people’s children. It comes down to the bottom dollar for me. The reason my kids take lunch in the first place is because it’s cheaper.

I need a book club forum to get out all of my opinions about LunchWars, but I will spare you all the details. I could talk all day about school gardens, food culture, how health-fanatical people think they are superior (including the author who boasts of her kids not needing medications like her unhealthy counterparts), schools serving three meals a day, depletion of US soil and farming, nature deficit disorder, and the fact that we should only eat beef or milk from cows who only graze on grass or chicken and eggs from cage-free standards. Instead, let’s just leave it at this: I find the main premise of this book hypocritical. The author complains that our schools have turned our students into customers in the lunch room and then turns around and justifies making customers out of them in the name of financing the organic changes she sees as absolutely vital for all.

Amy Kafala is a Democrat. I am a Republican. She didn’t say so, but I guarantee you that she is as blue as they come. [What is so bad about Ronald Reagan’s idea of using ketchup and relish as a veggie counterpart to save the tax payers 6 billion a year? It’s ingenious!] Amy Kafala thinks that our kids should not have birthday cupcakes. I resent that the government has regulated the crap out of our schools. It’s their regulations that got the cafeterias all screwed up with their single servings in the first place. I long for the more simple days when kids got to help the lunch ladies cook and scoop out the servings for their peers. Amy Kafala is making a profit with this revolution. I am just a mom trying to find the right balance between cost effective and nutritious for my family of six.

Oh, and I hated my fifth grade teacher Mrs. Maclvein (I can’t even remember how to spell her name, I disliked her that bad.) All she would allow us to eat for our school parties were Triscuits, veggies, and juice. I am not saying that it’s a bad thing to eat nutritiously. I am just saying lighten up granola-heads. I don’t know how people live like that 100% of the time, and where they get off telling everyone else that we need to be like them too?

Last word: go ahead and drink the chocolate milk kids. It’s milk. It’s chocolate. It’s perfection. And you aren’t going to get it at home.

View all my reviews

I will be giving this book away to a lucky commenter. Leave me a comment on this post with your best nutritional tip and I will enter you to win. One winner will be chosen on Halloween…just in time for you to eat all the candy guilt-free before the book arrives.

I hated that neighbor who gave away apples at Halloween every year.



  1. Ok! I sit here eating my school lunch at the elementary where I teach while reading your post. Lunch-yum! It was pizza today with a side salad with ranch and fresh oranges. I don't drink milk so I'm having my own Pepsi Throwback. I have fond memories at my high school of having a Snickers and Coke at the student store everyday for lunch. (I was even thin and played on my high school soccer team.) And the peanut butter bar was to die for. This book sounds like it went too far. People just need to chill out. I enjoy our school lunches often. The taco soup is the best! Thanks for posting about all of it. I am under anonymous because I don't want some of your “breatfeeding” passionate people to try and find me and hunt me down for this comment about school lunches:)

  2. I remember the days at my high school, the days when I was skinny yet I thought I was fat. We had vending machines in the commons area, and I took advantage. I ate my school lunches pizza NOT on a wheat crust, burgers that were hamburger not soy on buns that were white not wheat. Then during break times I would get a coke and a candy bar and guess what I was still skinny. I can be appalled by things like this because I have one child who is skinny, and one who is not! I understand the need and desire to raise healthy children, but healthy and skinny are not the same. I don't believe that children should be allowed to become morbidly obese, but I believe that these decisions and stratagies should be left in the home. I don't believe that the schools should tell our children what they can or can not eat,and I most certainly don't think they should be able to tell us as parents what we can or can't feed our children. I know that the majority of children these days are obese, but there are still those who are not. Those children should not be punished at school because some parents don't want to teach their children better at home.
    As for my “health” tip, I don't really have one. I live in the south… we know how to cook two ways, FRIED and in excess. I will try though, now that I have gained too many pounds to start eating healthy, and hopefully that will propel my other half and my stepdaughter will learn also! My kiddo has always been a healthy eater. She loves her milk, white, chocolate or strawberry she doesn't care, and I love that!

  3. I guess my issues were the same. I felt like she was constantly patting herself on the back about what a great mom she was and I just… I don't know, there are more important things to worry about with my son. He loves fruit and veggies, but he also loves some good old fashioned processed chicken nuggets. And he has been sick on time in his 2.5 years of life.

    I am for locally grown foods when I can afford them, I find most of organic to be a money market scam (the milk does not taste better because there are not antibiotics in it, it tastes DIFFERENT because it is ultra pasteurized)

    I am actually a democrat, but the line about the free and reduced lunch schools being easier to make change made my skin crawl too. Those meals aren't actually free…they are just free for the kids. Someone is paying for them.

    PS. I don't need the book since I have it already so no need to include me in the drawing!

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