Zachary Maxwell is a 4th grade student that goes undercover to expose the failed school lunch program in New York public schools. This hard hitting documentary is a story rife with corruption, bribery, pizza and cheese sticks. OK, no corruption or bribery, and maybe the program hasn’t actually failed, but this young filmmaker has struck a chord and his film has been making headlines.
Zachary’s revealing investigation began as an effort to prove to his parents that the school lunches were not what they saw on the official school menu. He made this 20 minute documentary, Yuck!, as the proof exposing a real discrepancy between what was advertised and what was served, filmed in true 4th grader style.
Secretly taking pictures of actual school lunches for 75 days and comparing them to the school menu, Zachary found that the lunches matched up to the menu only about half the time, with pizza or cheese sticks hitting the trays about 28% of the time! Zachary even reveals how celebrity chefs Rachael Ray and Ellie Krieger were brought in to add more clout to the school menu, but alas, their contributions didn’t quite make it to the table as advertised either.
Not being satisfied with just a false advertising scandal, Zachary also exposes a failed environmentally friendly initiative, Trayless Tuesday, that didn’t deliver as advertised. Trayless Tuesday was designed to cut back on waste by substituting bio-degradable paper “boats” for the standard styrofoam plate every Tuesday. But thanks to the investigative skills of our film maker, we find out that more often than not, it’s still “Styrofoam Tuesday” instead.
Complete with “scientific” research in the family kitchen and entertaining re-creations, this film entertains and exposes the very real issue of public school nutrition. It has also turned Zachary into somewhat of a celebrity. His film won the Buzz Award at the Manhattan Film Festival, got him a mention on one of the web’s premier sites, the Huffington Post, and even landed him a guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Zachary Maxwell continues his elementary school career, where he is sure to keep a close eye on the future of public school lunches in New York. He now brings his own lunch with his parents blessing.
The most disgusting part of this documentary is not the food, but the styrofoam trays. Think of how many head to landfills on a typical day with half a million kids eating school lunches. I would think a progressive and health conscious city like NYC would know better.
This kid is awesome! I know school lunches aren’t supposed to be gourmet food, but those menus are clearly false advertising! They’re not even serving what’s on the menu most of the time, and it’s no surprise that the vegetables tend to be M.I.A. Maybe they figure that the kids won’t eat the vegetables anyway, so why not save some money? If that’s the case, then stop lying to parents and take the vegetables off the menu. Give them something they might eat, like cheap crackers or canned fruit, so that the meals are at least 400 calories. Most of those meals looked like they were less than 300 calories, which is hardly enough for the 1,800 a day diet suggested by the documentary maker.
Brown bagging is a nice idea, but there’s two problems with it: 1) Low income children rely on reduced price or free school lunches, and 2) There’s no refrigeration for brown bagged lunches, putting children at risk of food poisoning if they want to bring a “healthy” lunch. School lunches will always be needed for those who lack the funds or the time to send their kids to school with their own lunch, and they should be improved as much as possible. However, I think that they should also be supplemented with the availability of refrigeration for brown bagged lunches. I’ve always wondered why no one has ever thought of that!
So hard for me not see the parents speaking through him…. he’s basically a puppet for activist parents. Meh, it was still pretty saucy. Got it’s point across, I think.
This kid really reminds me of Vice’s Eddie Huang!
Somehow this food still looked better than what I when I was in school and that was just a few years ago. The pizza and burgers were the SAFE bet, at east those were precooked.