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Cold Pizza? Blame Obama, Says Dell Rapids School Food Service

Lunchtime Solutions Inc., the North Sioux City company that profits from the privatization of 42 school lunch programs, is catching heck from its Dell Rapids customers. The Dell Rapids school board renewed LSI's contract this month, but not without expressing grave concern that 80% of sophomores say that hot meals aren't served hot. Superintendent Summer Schultz says she's seen LSI wreck pizza:

“Last year … I talked with (LSI management) about the pizza that was so severely undercooked and poor tasting that the kids (wouldn’t eat it). If kids don’t eat pizza, what are they going to eat?” she said. “I was told that you get many complaints about the pizza, and a year later, we’re still talking about the pizza issue that doesn’t get addressed” [Joe Sneve, "School Lunch Provider Defends Service," Dell Rapids Tribune, 2014.05.21].

Sneve reports that LSI is "strategizing to make improvements." Um... Strategy #1: put the pizza in sooner and turn up the oven.

But that would be too simple for LSI regional manager Tam Edgar. She prefers to blame President Obama:

Inconsistent food temperatures, she said, might be caused by changes in nutrition standards implemented by the Obama administration two years ago, she said.

“It takes more time for the student to go through the line than it used to,” Edgar said. “Each student has to stop at the fruit and veggie bar. They have to make sure they have at least a half a cup or the point of sale person is required to send them back and get more” [Sneve, 2014.05.21].

Wow—is Edgar a Republican running for Senate?

Undercooked pizza is not caused by President Obama or by kids dinking around in line. Undercooked pizza is caused by undercooking.


  1. owen reitzel 2014.05.26

    Typical. Blame Obama for everything

  2. Rorschach 2014.05.26

    The school and the kids are not buying that ridiculous argument. What would you tell your debaters about making a claim like that, Cory?

  3. Paula 2014.05.26

    Of course undercooked pizza is unacceptable. I worked for LSI until a year ago. We servers were required to always check the temperature of the food we serve to ensure it was at least the minimum temperature allowed. You do have to expect that once the kids get it on their plate and go through the fruit and veggie bar and then go sit down, the food may cool off some.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.26

    While the language of the article is unclear, Paula, the superintendent uses the word "undercooked", which suggests a lack of sufficient cooking in the first place, not cooling after being sufficiently cooked. And remember, we're talking pizza, which can taste pretty good at any temperature.

    R, most high school debaters I've worked with aren't dumb or dishonest enough to make such a claim. Encountering such a claim, they'd point out that the nutrition standards don't require reducing pizza cooking time. They'd also offer a counterplan: send the kids through this awful time-consuming fruit-and-veggie bar first.

  5. mike from iowa 2014.05.26

    Doesn't everybody know food uncooks itself as it gets cold?
    And if you circle the globe counter clockwise you turn back time.

  6. Paula 2014.05.26

    I just am hesitant to believe the "undercooked" statement. As a server, if I went to get something out of the heat cart and it wasn't quite to the proper temperature, it would be sent back to the kitchen to be heated fully/properly. If I even got tater tots, for example, which got a little on the soggy side sitting in the cart waiting for serving, I would stick them in the convection oven on-site to crisp them up (even though they were already at the correct temp) In the six years I worked there, I can recall only one time receiving some food that was too far below the correct temp, and I couldn't serve the entree. I had to wait for the main kitchen to bring me a new pan of food. That's kind of why I question the "undercooked food" statement. I can't really see it happening.

  7. Barry smith 2014.05.26

    Not just undercooked but poor tasting as well. Could only be one thing-- They must be using Obama's own personal pizza recipe. ( the sheeple nod in agreement and go about their day). As long as I have been alive people have blamed the sitting President for even the most inane of occurrences.

  8. Loren 2014.05.26

    Blame the President? REALLY?? Kids have been eating cold/left over pizza since I was a kid, and that was a looong time ago! Of course, it was GOOD pizza to begin with. Paula may not believe the "under cooked" statement, but if a teen won't eat pizza,something is wrong!

  9. Paula 2014.05.26

    I was just responding on one part of the article. And giving readers an insiders view. There's two parts to the story here: one the superintendent saying LSI is serving undercooked food; and two, Tami's response about government requirements. I'm not defending Tami's (from LSI) response, although if I did, I would say that most parents/kids/people have no idea of what has to go into the weekly planning of the menus and what the requirements are. They have to follow protein, caloric, sodium, etc requirements over a week period.

  10. Paula 2014.05.26

    Oh, and plus keep each meal below a certain cost too.

  11. Jerry 2014.05.26

    It looks like the criteria to keep each meal below a certain cost would be to use crappy ingredients and hold off on the heat source to cook it. Privatization at its finest, screw the kids out of a descent meal for the bottom line. Why not just give them peanut butter and jelly on frozen bread? The kids could then stick them under their arms to warm them for the noon meal, you could do that with frozen pizza as well, problem solved.

  12. Paula 2014.05.26

    How many people actually take the time to go have lunch at school with their kids or grandkids to find out for themselves what the school lunches are like? I ate the same school lunch as the kids each day for six years and feel I got a good, full, nutritious meal each day. Maybe the pizza was not my favorite, but many of you might not know it, but there usually is a SECOND entree choice they can choose if they don't like the pizza.

  13. mike from iowa 2014.05.26

    WTH-the kids are born,they need to get over themselves. We can't afford to feed or educate them. I thought wingnuts made that abundantly clear.

  14. Roger Cornelius 2014.05.26

    Oh No!! Pizzagate

  15. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.05.26

    Paula, since you are the expert on this issue, what do you think LSI could do to address this complaint?

    It does seem that putting the fruit and veg bar first might help. When the students reached the hot food line, they could be sent back if they didn't have the necessary fruit or veg Before they got the hot food.

    Would that work? If the complaint is recurring, I think it would be good business to address it in a concrete way, rather than brushing it off.

    What do you think? (And thanks for commenting here to give us a viewpoint from the other side of the counter.)

  16. Les 2014.05.26

    It's Bush's fault. If he'd have taken out Chavez instead of Saddam, we'd have the petrol to get it cooked and keep it warm.

  17. Paula 2014.05.26

    You know Deb, I should have known better than to try to explain what goes on with the food. God forbid people actually get some facts instead of speculating or believing an article they read. Your suggestion is a great one of serving the fruits and veggies first. As I said, the kids get more than one choice of an entree; if they don't like the pizza, then they should order the other entree. Problem solved. The sarcastic comments some people posted on here are really unnecessary when I was just trying to inform.

  18. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.05.26

    I agree Paula. Those comments were unnecessary.

  19. mike from iowa 2014.05.26

    Not all comments are aimed at Paula.

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.26

    Paula, I am at least relieved to see that you seem inclined to let stand the main point of the article, that trying to dodge criticism of local food service by blaming President Obama is really silly.

  21. Joan Brown 2014.05.26

    How long ago did the schools start serving what basically amounts to fast food? When I was in school the cooks prepared home style meals, they peeled the potatoes, cooked them, along with the meat, veggies, and baked the cakes, cookies, whatever. The meals were served on glass plates and the milk/water was served in plastic glasses, and oh yes! we had real stainless steel forks, knives, spoons, etc.

  22. JeniW 2014.05.26

    When I was in school, all those many decades ago, school lunch pretty much consisted of what the government provided. Pizza was rare, but a wonderful treat, hot dogs and hamburgers were not served very often, but they were considered treats too.

    Hot lunches were served on metal trays with sections, and there were no choices. Kids were served what was prepared, most of the time much of the food was thrown away.

    When we did not like what was going to be served, and those who could not afford a hot meal, we brought our own lunches. We could buy milk separately from the hot lunch, or we could bring milk (or whatever,) in a thermos.

    What I am curious about when I read about the complaints of school lunches (not enough food, not enough variety, and so on,) is what are students eating before they go to school? I think of school lunches as being a supplement, not a main meal. If students are not eating enough before they go to school to get them through much of the school day, isn't that the real issue that should be addressed?

  23. Anne Beal 2014.05.26

    Why do they even bother with hot meals? Who says they have to have hot food? Cooking actually damages food, the less you do to food, the better it is for you. Raw fruits and vegetables, yogurt, cottage cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches etc... I grew up eating a cold lunch out of a lunch box everyday. Who started this hot meal stuff?

  24. larry kurtz 2014.05.26

    Mrs. Beal, pick a lane: the same people who subsidized school lunch and are pushing for less processed commodities are the same ones you vote against every cycle.

  25. MJL 2014.05.26

    JeniW: I have worked in both very small schools, medium sized schools and have been in a few of the large schools. I share some of the concern and question why so much has to come out of a can and pre-processed box. I know that part of it is the staff can be very small to quickly prepare meals for 200 students. I have wondered why our high school offers "ala carte" food instead of one of the two main options. Most of those do not seem like healthy options (nachos in a bag and a cup of nacho cheese for example.)

    For too many of our children, a school lunch is the only hot meal they will get that day. Many schools offer a breakfast line before school for students on free and reduced lunches (some are open to all).

    I have taught in a couple of schools where the "lunch ladies" made fresh bread every day. I would love for our schools to make more homemade style food instead of chicken chunks, but then parents would complain because the kids don't want no healthy food and are always hungry.

    Sorry for the ramblings, too much time in the sun today.

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.26

    (Too much time in the sun? No such thing after a South Dakota winter.)

    Anne! Can we get a breakdown on cost savings for leaving the stoves and ovens off for a day? Still gotta run those fridges, though....

    ...and fresh bread made by the lunch ladies? Yum! Bring that out hot, lay out some peanut butter, jelly, cheese, and salami, toss some bananas and celery on the side, we're good to go!

  27. grudznick 2014.05.26

    I would eat this pizza.

  28. JeniW 2014.05.26

    MJL, thank you for sharing your experiences.

    Your comment confirms what I have suspected for a long time, that is there is a much bigger issue regarding school lunches than what is served at school lunches, that is, that children/teens are not receiving enough food, for whatever reason, outside of the school.

    The challenge of course is how to reduce that issue, especially in the light of so many people considering people who receive assistance as being "abusers," "welfare cheats," "lazy," and etc.

  29. Les 2014.05.26

    We've almost destroyed the middle class. How do non functioning families raise functioning children without the help of the state?
    My sister a speech pathologist in the lib state of Washington would hold cooking classes and provide the vittles as part of her daily process. Kids are hungry and cannot learn on an empty stomach was her answer when asked why a cooking class.

  30. SkypeBot 2014.05.27

    It's time for you to be alert and be vigilant to look and check for
    1 or more signs of a cheating spouse:. The same face to face interaction can all be
    done over the internet. She arrived at me
    and said 'I have to get ample votes to win this'.

  31. larry kurtz 2014.05.27

    Spam funny.

  32. Douglas Wiken 2014.05.27

    Perhaps free birth control for those unable to feed and care for their own children might make sense. Easily available abortions in a climate conducive to them. etc. Trying to solve problems without concern for the primary cause is senseless as political policy.

  33. Roger Cornelius 2014.05.27

    Just how would that work Wiken?

    How an abortion solves the problem of already existing children is like locking the gate after the bull got out.

  34. Jerry 2014.05.27

    Failed state indeed Larry, that is us and the sum of us. I will go along with Roger and ask Mr. Wiken how his theory would work, something just does not seem quite right there.

  35. Douglas Wiken 2014.05.27

    As Roger suggests, it won't make much difference with the current problem, but it might prevent near exponential growth of the problem. Because "the gate is unlocked" now does not mean it always must be.

    Fewer children in a family might mean they can eat better, and also get more attention from parents. Talk to public health and social workers and special education teachers.

  36. Roger Cornelius 2014.05.27

    And who decides which families should have fewer children?

  37. Bill Dithmer 2014.05.27

    I guess my question is, where has the state health inspector been in all of this?

    Has anyone even tried to get the results of the inspections for that time? There are regulations for serving hot food hot and cold food cold. There are records for those inspection, and they can be found online somewhere. At least they were a couple of years ago.

    The Blindman

  38. Kal Lis 2014.05.27

    I had thought the best way to deal with cold pizza was to serve it for breakfast. I can't think of a better way to get students college ready as the Common Core mandates than having them develop a taste for room temperature carbs and day old grease.

    I guess I was thinking too narrowly. Using abortion to solve cold school lunches is truly out of the box thinking.

  39. larry kurtz 2014.05.27

    The Brookings French cheese factory is making commodity cheese for these pizzas: maybe ask them.

  40. larry kurtz 2014.05.27

    Think bovine growth hormone and John Thune.

  41. Jerry 2014.05.27

    The government already did that selective breeding program in China. As we in South Dakota have approved with open arms the Chinese as our new bought and paid for citizens, maybe Mr. Wiken is onto something. If we embrace the moolah, we must embrace the politics that go with it. Let us go ask Egg Roll what say he.

  42. Roger Cornelius 2014.05.27

    Remember now, there is a distinction between cold pizza, which is acceptable by many, an under cooked pizza which could create health concerns.

  43. Paula 2014.05.27

    The school cafeterias and kitchens are inspected twice a year. We are required to post the results in the lunchroom. They check our daily records to ensure we are testing and recording the food temperatures DAILY. I am still doubting the superintendent's story with all the precautions the kitchen staff and servers take to ensure food safety. And you can't always believe kids' stories of "bad food". Take the time to try it yourself before making judgments.

  44. larry kurtz 2014.05.27

    Like Linda Daugaard is a model for a healthy body image: Dell Rapids, huh?

  45. larry kurtz 2014.05.27

    Mrs. Daugaard's got some other conflicts of interest: sleaze just knows no bounds.

  46. Douglas Wiken 2014.05.28

    Republican auto-reaction is to attack anything associated with a woman whether it is Pelosi or Mrs. Obama.

  47. Les 2014.05.28

    You forgot a few Wiken. How about Palin, Sharron Angle, Michele Bachmann? And before you bring up stupid, think Maxine Waters.

  48. Kate Kelley 2014.05.28

    Soooo, the kids have to eat cold pizza because they first have to take vegetables. And there isn't any fix for this - like maybe keeping the pizza in the oven until the kids are ready to have some? Who is this company the school districted contracted? Perhaps food service isn't really their line of work.

  49. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.05.28

    The women on your list, Les, may have received some attacks because they are women, but they also did and said some awfully strange things.

    Remember the mysognists who jumped on FLOTUS when she fist-bumped? The Fox News types said it was some kind of secret evil handshake.

    Pretty much every woman is on the receiving end of some sexist abuse at some time, several times, many, many times. Still, not every criticism is based on being female. One of the many tricky parts of a woman's path is learning to discern the difference.

    There are so many ways that women's lives differ from men's. Because male is dominant, they are much less aware.

Comments are closed.