The burger patties, with 27 ingredients and additives, on school lunch menus have been replaced for 2011-2012 school years with an all-beef version as part of a health initiative but the schools changed it back without notice.
The Real Food for Kids is an advocacy group of concerned parents aiming to stop schools from serving highly processed foods with additives. They believe that processed foods may cause serious illnesses and obesity to children. They talk to the School Board and offers recommendation to make the school lunch healthier. Their most successful initiative is the replacement of the burger patties to be 100 percent beef.
“We worked so hard, and we talk a lot about this burger and how we changed it,” said JoAnne Hammermaster, co-founder and president of RFFK, told the Washington Post.
However, the Fairfax County Public Schools decided to replace the burger patties and revert back to the additive-version on September. The move was done without informing the students and the parents. Students noticed the difference though and started complaining that the all-beef burger patty doesn’t taste right and that the pink in the middle is no longer evident.
“To me, it was surprising because it seems a bit like a step backwards,” said school board member Ryan McElveen to Washington Post.
In a note to Real Food for Kids, Penny McConnell, Fairfax schools’ food and nutritional service director, wrote that “students are our customers and we listen to them and implement their requests if possible.”
The beef with additive was supplied by Don Lee Farms. It has a “pink slime” also known as lean finely textured beef though the supplier denied it. It also has caramel coloring, additives and preservatives. The decision to switch may have also been affected by costs— an all-beef burger patty costs 7 cents higher than the additive version.