Michelle Obama School Lunch: Was It Really Lighting That Made Viral Picture Look So Unappealing?

Nathan Francis - Author

Mar. 1 2017, Updated 2:40 a.m. ET

A Michelle Obama-approved school lunch was the victim of poor lighting and bad presentation, administrators at a Virginia school said after a disgusting picture of a school lunch went viral this week.

A concerned parent in Virginia’s Portsmouth Public Schools took a picture of a very drab-looking fish fillet, whole wheat bun and a small pile of very stale-looking corn. The picture of the sad-looking lunch — which is in compliance with federal lunch guidelines created by Michelle Obama — went viral and sparked criticism of the lunch program.

It also drew a defense from the school. Jim Gehlhoff, the district’s food service coordinator, said the picture was concerning but the problems with the Michelle Obama school lunch was actually lighting.

Gelhoff said (via WAVY):

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“We appreciate this parent’s concern about the presentation of this school lunch. Poor lighting and food presentation make this lunch unappealing. Other lunch options on the day this photo was taken included a chef’s salad and turkey sub sandwiches. The meal in this photo and other meals served by Portsmouth Public Schools meet nutritional and USDA requirements. The presentation of the meal pictured concerns us and we plan to address presentation of food items in a training session with all cafeteria managers. Our goal is to provide healthy food options that students will want to eat. We will take actions to ensure that presentation is addressed.”

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But for many people, the problem with the Michelle Obama school lunch was deeper than just bad lighting. Students and parents around the country have criticized Obama’s lunch guidelines, which took effect in 2012 and have a goal of adding more whole grains, vegetables and fruits while reducing fat and sodium in meals given to kids in America’s public schools.

Students say the changes left school lunches disgusting and barely edible. The complaints took off last year when many students shared pictures of their school lunches online with the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama.

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And many people are not buying the explanation that the Michelle Obama school lunch suffered from bad lighting. Many students have spoken out to confirm that their lunches look more or less like the drab-looking meal featured in the picture, and an unscientific poll conducted by WAVY found that 92.3 percent of respondents said the lunch was “unacceptable.”

[Image via Twitter]


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