Educator Sarah Wu would never have guessed her life would change when she forgot to bring her lunch to work one day. An elementary-age teacher in the Chicago Public School system, Wu purchased a $3.00 lunch from the school cafeteria instead, and was appalled at what her students were eating: a bagel dog, Jell-O, Tater Tots, and chocolate milk. She promptly photographed the sub-standard meal, and created the blog ‘Fed Up with Lunch’ under the pseudonym “Mrs. Q”, in an effort to preserve her anonymity.
What transpired was a personal crusade that made waves in the public media sphere. She began to buy lunch at her cafeteria everyday, photograph it, and post it online—with commentary regarding the poor state of public school lunches.
When perusing through her website, fedupwithlunch.com (which Wu still maintains, although her days of solely eating school lunches are over) one can see her meals were heavily subsidized by nutritionally empty hamburgers, fried foods, pizza, and the occasional piece of fruit or vegetable.
“That first meal really bothered me,” Wu explains in an interview with Organic Connections. “People often read about a problem and there’s a distance—like maybe they read about something online and get upset about it and then move on with their day. I did sort of move on with my life after I ate that first lunch, but the problem was that I was faced with the children who eat those meals every day. I couldn’t just shake it off and move along; it was right there in front of my face. So it was either act or not act. And I felt like I wanted to do something.” Practically overnight, her website grew ten-fold in popularity, reaching over 1 million page views by the end of the school year.
Now, with a book summarizing her website published, Wu is a strong figurehead in school lunch advocacy.
Read more in Organic Connections.