The United States Has A Problem With School Lunches

We've Normalized Sh*tty School Lunches, No Wonder This Country Has A Problem With Obesity

Do you really know what your kid has been eating at school?

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We can all think back to our K-12 days being served what is commonly referred to as "hot meals" or school lunches. There was always that rotating menu of plastic wrapped grilled cheeses, chicken strips, sloppy joes, and if you're lucky, the occasional slice of pizza. Personally, I think my high school had some of the worst dishes ever served (for reference, we were handed items called "potato taco," turkey manhattan, and "chicken chunks"). Seriously, WTF IS A CHICKEN CHUNK?!

When did it become okay to give growing children who need vitamins, vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts foods that are practically inedible? Yeah, school cafeterias are required to slap on a full serving of fruits & vegetables on each child's tray (thanks, Michelle Obama!), but when it looks like this, do you think kids are really going to eat it?

This school lunch was based on a traditional Thanksgiving meal...

World-renowned chef Dan Giusti has been working diligently and creatively to help reform school lunches across the U.S. Before acting as cafeteria manager at Winthrop Elementary in Connecticut, Giusti was promoted to head chef at what has been called "the best restaurant in the world," Noma, in Copenhagen. At Noma, Giusti was serving thousand dollar meals for two, booking reservations months in advance, and working with the highest quality ingredients. Nowadays, he can be found surrounded by 6 to 11 year-olds in a tiny cafeteria on any given weekday, still creating dishes with the same flair and passion that he had back in Denmark. He and his team of chefs, known as "The Brigaid," "started challenging the school food status quo by putting professional chefs into public schools to cook real, wholesome food from scratch." In an interview with CBS, Giusti explained the rationale behind the project saying, "It's called school food. Like, that's weird," he said. "It should just be food."

Some people don't feel as strongly about school lunches as "The Brigaid' team. Only a few months ago, FoodRevolution.org published an article explaining 10 ways school lunches are improving & how many Americans are simply overreacting about the quality of food. Some of their examples include: 1) an increase in school gardens, 2) adding more salad bars to cafeterias, 3) and the implementation of Meatless Mondays on menus across the U.S.

First of all, school gardens rarely ever provide a big enough harvest to feed an entire student body, not to mention the upkeep can be quite expensive. Secondly, the likelihood of a 7-year-old visiting the salad bar at lunchtime is LOW - I mean, would you have at that age? Thirdly, following a Meatless Monday meal plan doesn't necessarily mean the foods' replacements will be of better quality. Grilled cheese, quesadillas, and PB&Js; and are all meatless...they're also all high in carbohydrates, processed sugars, and fats.

Other adults protest Giusti's Brigaid project arguing how "it will raise taxpayer dollars." He claims that because of "fundraising efforts (like Brigaid's popular weekly community dinner) and generous corporate and private grants, [the Connecticut school system's] taxpayers still haven't been hit. Anyways, even if taxes were raised a bit, aren't the children worth it? Giusti is not serving up prime rib, fifty dollar lobster tails, or truffle oil pasta - he's just cooking (and I cannot stress this enough) real food. In many cases, the lunchtime meal children get at school is the only meal they will receive all day. Poverty is a real issue within our education system, and sometimes families do not have the funds to feed their kids breakfast or dinner at home.

Like I said before, Giusti isn't creating any outrageous dishes. His past menus have included "BBQ chicken, roasted carrots, cornbread, and a side salad" or "meatloaf, sautéed kale, and cauliflower mashed potatoes." After the kitchen is finished plating the meals, Giusti encourages his chefs to enter the cafeteria and speak to the schoolchildren. They sit down and ask them how their food tastes, what they'd like to see on next week's menu, and if they'd try this dish at home!

It's time we start encouraging healthy habits in young children, and what better way to start than in institutions dedicated to higher learning? Kids need energy and nutritional meals to kickstart their day and fuel their brains for 7-hour long school days. In the future, I hope to see Dan Giusti's movement spread across more than just Connecticut, and potentially, changing the lives of students around the globe.

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How To Play 'New Girl's' True American Drinking Game

"It's 75% drinking, 20% Candy Land, and the floor is molten lava."
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I think it's fair to say that anyone who watches "New Girl" knows about True American. This crazy, nonsense drinking game which pops up every so often throughout the seasons and first introduced in season one, episode 20.

The game, as described by "New Girl" character and fan-favorite Schmidt, is 75% drinking game and 20% Candy Land with a floor of molten lava.

The point of the game is for players to navigate through the Candy Land-like spaces to the "castle," which is a table in the center of the room that holds beer "pawns" and the "king" bottle. The first person to reach and sip from the bottle wins.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things "New Girl" Fans Know to Be True

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Here's how to play:

Step #1: Prepare the "castle"

First, set up your "castle." The castle is made up of beer "pawns" and the "king," a bottle filled with the alcohol of your choice.

The bottle should be in the middle of the table, surrounded by four lines of beer pawns. There is no exact number of beers necessary for each line of beer pawns. Choose any amount of beers that seems appropriate for the amount of players.

Step #2: Set up spaces

Set up spaces using pillows, chairs or any other objects players will be able to stand on. Place an equal amount of spaces around the table. You'll want about 5-8 spaces on each side, depending on the size of the room you're playing in.

Only four of these spaces should reach the castle, lining up with the parade of beer "pawns" and allowing players to take a beer pawn from the castle. For example, in the photo above, each of the chairs touch a corner of the table at the end of the line of beer pawns. Therefore, these are two of the four special spaces that allow players to take a beer. Unlike the pillows pictured, which are just regular spaces that the players can use to move around.

Step #3: Pick teams

Teams are optional. To pick teams, all of the players will place a certain number (1 to 5) of fingers against their forehead on the count of three.

Any players who hold up the same number are a team. Unmatched players can team up as needed or simply pair up with the person standing closest to them.

Step #4: Begin

Begin with a shotgun "tip-off" to determine which player goes first.

The winner of this shotgunning contest will yell, "One, two, three...JFK!" to announce the official beginning of the game. All players will enthusiastically respond, "FDR!" then quickly grab a beer pawn from the castle and run to any space they wish to start at, excluding for the four special spaces that reach the castle.

Step #5: Make moves

The winner of the shotgunning contest has earned the first turn. From then on, the order of turns will move in a clockwise rotation. During each turn, the player will move one space toward the castle and choose to play one of the following mini-games.

Mini-game No. 1: The player whose turn it is will count to three then all players will place a certain number (1-5) of fingers on their forehead. Any player who selects a number no one else selected can move ONE space.

Mini-game No. 2: The player whose turn it is will recite the beginning of a famous American quote. The first player to complete the quote can move TWO spaces.

Mini-game No. 3: The player whose turn it is will name two famous American people, places, or things. The first player to identify what the two have in common can move THREE spaces.

For example, say it's your turn. You will move one space then choose one of the three mini-games. You and all of the players will participate in that game, and the winner will move accordingly. After this, your turn is over and it's the next player's turn (in the original clockwise rotation).

Step #6: "Play on, playa."


Continue playing by these rules until one lucky winner reaches the bottle and sips from its royal glass.

The bottle cannot be opened until every last pawn is removed from the castle. Any players who fail to keep at least one beer in hand, who accidentally end up with more than three beers in hand, or who touch the lava are immediately disqualified. Disqualified players can rejoin the game by shotgunning a beer.

Congratulations!

You are now able to impress all of your "New Girl"-loving friends with knowledge of the workings of the epic True American drinking game. Know your limits, drink responsibly, and enjoy!

Cover Image Credit: i.amz.mshcdn.com

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'Oh, You're A Vegan?'

When I tell people I'm vegan, people give me that exasperated look.

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When I first decided to try and become vegan, I got a lot of mixed results. Some people were extremely for it, while other people looked at me like I had gone off the deep end. After a while and even now, I like to play a game of guessing what reaction I will get from people when I tell them about my dietary habits. Unlike a lot of other people who decided to go vegan for the ethical reasons, I kind of fell into it based on me realizing that half the stuff I was putting into my body was making me want to curl up in a ball and only come out for dollars on Wednesday nights at Taylor's. Through the last year and a half, I have learned a lot, from tips and tricks to making food taste good, to some added benefits of being on a plant free lifestyle. So for all the haters, vegan enthusiasts and people looking into making the leap, enjoy!

1. Trust me, its not all just vegetables.....there's other stuff too.

One of the biggest mistakes or misconceptions about being vegan is that all we eat are plants or vegetables. I will be the first to assure you that that piece of information is not true. There are tons of things we can eat if you are creative. Learning what you like and what you can eat will all come with practice. You might have to experiment a little before you find your groove, but it will happen. I would also put money on the fact that you might find yourself having that moment halfway through a bowl of Cornbread Cafes vegan Mac and cheese. Just saying.

2. No allergies in Eugene, too good to be true!

One of the best things that I noticed about becoming vegan didn't become obvious until a few months later. For anyone who has lived in Eugene, OR through the springtime, you know what I am referring too. Allergies are monstrously bad here as we are in the middle of a basin and many people have to shut in themselves to not like, die. I was always one of those people, but last spring and this one so far as well I have noticed a crazy change. While I still get itchy eyes and sneeze occasionally, I no longer want to live in my bed where the pollen can't reach me! The vegan diet has been proven to reduce the levels of allergy issues that people have faced so basically if you're driving people crazy with your sneezing, maybe cut out the glass of milk in the morning.

3. Happy skin, happy day! 

Another benefit to being vegan is clear skin. A lot of people who are vegan tend to have clear skin that is acne free. That is not always the case, but there is 1 key reason why shiny skin comes from veganism. Dairy and meat products are not the skins best friend according to dermatologists. Both are chock full of hormones that aren't good for our bodies. Dermatologist William Danby even calls cow's milk "nature's perfect food for the creation of acne." So you might want to kiss that ice cream goodbye.

4.  There are lots of Vegan options, you just have to look!

Like I said above, there is a gross misconception that the only things Vegans eat are vegetables. There are so many different things that are incredibly good and don't have any animal products in them. Also, vegan restaurants are popping up all over the place now so you will able to eat out in peace and rest easy knowing your environmental footprint will be smaller. Some of my personal Eugene favorites are Cornbread Cafe, Morning Glory, the Veg and surprisingly Tacovore. Their tofu tacos are to die for! If you're more of a homebody though there are a lot of different well-known brands such as Ben and Jerrys and Carls Junior that are coming out with vegan alternatives!

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