It all started one day at the beginning of last year when she forgot to pack her lunch.
Mrs. Q -- a pseudonym that this elementary school teacher used for a year online -- had to, for the first time, eat a meal from the school cafeteria with her students. She wasn't happy with what she was presented with: a hot dog in soggy dough, six tater tots, a Jell-O cup and chocolate milk, USA Today reports.
"That particular meal seemed barely recognizable as food," she told Good Morning America Wednesday. "I was struck by the fact that the students I'm working with really rely on the school for so much, including potentially their best meal of the day.
So for a year, Mrs. Q ate school lunch and secretly took photos of her meals, then posted photos and descriptions on her blog, Fed Up With Lunch. The blog received 1 million hits last year, she tells GMA.
Through 162 $3 lunches and 133 chicken nuggets, Mrs. Q kept her identity a secret. But she exposed herself this morning on GMA: Meet Sarah Wu, 34, a speech pathologist in Chicago Public Schools.
Her first official post notes that the lunches always "come in these strange little packages. I have to say that it is very hard to open them. I have to stab them with the spork multiple times." By day 10 of her experiment, people following Wu's blog had expressed concern about her health. She said not to worry, her request was simple: "I want less pre-fab food and higher quality options. Less crap, you know?"
Wow. Truly monumentally bad. I couldn’t get through the main entree. I was hungry too… I bit the cheese lasagna and it didn’t even pass muster as pasta! Al dente? No, al crappy. The pasta couldn’t hold its form and it crumbled. I ate two bites and I was done. Yuck.
GMA reached out to Chicago Public Schools, and the system's statement says, "Our nutritional standards are designed to exceed the USDA's gold standard of the healthiest U.S. school challenge guidelines. Chicago Public Schools has increased its choices of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and eliminated deep fat frying."
Wu agrees that the meals being served in her school cafeteria has improved. But what's her fate now that she's exposed for the project? The Chicago Tribune's Monica Eng got this response from CPS representatives:
"We would have to review the material and assess the content to determine whether any violation of policy has taken place."
Wu's project comes at a time when attention has grown nationwide on childhood nutrition and school food. Most of Wu's students -- 90 percent of them -- are like 31 million kids in America who qualify for free or reduced lunch, GMA reports. And for many of those children, that school lunch is the best meal they'll eat during the day.
President Barack Obama signed into law last year the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which in part aims to bring healthier meals to schools. And in an effort to reduce starches served in schools, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week a plan to eliminate potatoes from school breakfasts and dramatically cut the amount of potatoes served during lunch.
But the measures don't come without a cost. For school districts to comply with new federal regulations that bring in fresh fruits and vegetables, they have seen a rise in prices, The New York Times reported.
Watch the GMA segment with Wu above and below, a slideshow of meals Wu ate from the school cafeteria last year.