These Real School Lunch Photos Will Make You Lose Your Lunch

Hungry? You might want to revisit this post at another time. Looking at these photos of real school lunches from American high-school cafeterias is guaranteed to make you lose your appetite. The images are part of a project called "Fed Up," launched by Farah Sheikh, an education campaign manager with the non-profit To see what's really being served in school cafeterias — and call attention to the (lack of) nutritional value in these meals — Sheikh asked students around the country to send in real photos of their school cafeteria offerings.

U.S. students sent in some 7,000 photos (some quite cleverly captioned), overwhelmingly featuring pizza, nachos, chicken sandwiches/nuggets, mashed potatoes, burgers, french fries, corn, and chocolate milk. Students were also asked to vote on which lunches they would eat and which they would toss.

Interestingly, Sheikh said she's seen a preliminary correlation between healthy offerings and student satisfaction with school lunches. "The meals that show the most nutritious and healthy [ingredients] are the ones we're actually seeing the highest 'EAT IT' votes on," Sheikh told FastCo.

Sheikh also said she was encouraged by how many healthy-looking lunch photos were submitted, meaning our national cafeteria crisis isn't dire as the grossest of these photos make it seem. Still, if you'd like to see the most repulsive of these school on through. But I'm warning you: There's a lot of mystery meat.

Kentucky school lunch

"Gravy and heartburn."

New York school lunch

"Mystery meat."

Maine school lunch

"Possibly peaches."

Indiana school lunch

Something called "bosco sticks."

Georgia school lunch

Nachos, allegedly.

Mississippi school lunch

Beef sticks & cornbread, the classic pairing.

California school lunch


Maryland school lunch

"Cheese slingshot" aka no idea.

Florida school lunch

Cheesy chicken, maybe the best of the bunch?

Nebraska school lunch

Cherries, maybe.

Georgia school lunch

Fried chicken and spaghetti.

Mississippi school lunch

Taco salad. Gag.

New Jersey school lunch

Taco pizza, because that should exist.

Delaware school lunch

Steak of a very creepy color.

Arkansas school lunch

"Slimy beef and carbs."

Mississippi school lunch

Something called the "Sloppy Wayne."

Louisiana school lunch

Salisbury steak. Or something.

Tennessee school lunch

Lasagna and baked potato.

Rhode Island school lunch

"Manager's choice" — what a treat!

Wisconsin school lunch

Macaroni and cheese that defies gravity.

Michigan school lunch

Ribs, or something masquerading as ribs.

California school lunch

Rice, beans, and mystery meat.

New Mexico school lunch


Kansas school lunch

Mystery patty.

Oregon school lunch

"Mexican pot pie."

Washington school lunch

More mystery meat.

Kentucky school lunch

Some alien version of an omelet.

Alabama school lunch

Scary nachos.

Ohio school lunch

And a scarier chili dog.