School Lunches Made This Child Sick

Canaries in coal mines. That’s what our children are. Our food supply has grown more tainted with each successive generation. Today’s children face the widespread invasion of GMO foods stacked on top of generations of nutrient-skewed refined foods.

Did you know that more than 75% of the foods sold in the grocery store contain GMO ingredients? Are you aware of just how pervasive refined foods are? Refined flours, sugars, and vegetable oils are in just about everything. Everything. All these radical changes to the human diet coupled with the progressively worsening prevalence of gut dysbiosis are culminating in a perfect storm of sickness and death.

It’s not pretty. It’s the stuff of nightmares.

So, it’s not a surprise to me when mothers like Laura Philyaw send me their stories. What is rare is that those mothers give me permission to share those stories with you. Laura did. So, let’s take her bravery to heart and pass it on, shall we?

Here’s Laura’s story, in her own words:

Back in November, Abby, my 8 yr old daughter, started getting sick. Not fevers and colds, but waking up at about 4:30 or 5 in the morning once or twice a week with throwing up and diahrea for about 3 hours each morning. When she was done, she was … exhausted. She would fall asleep then wake up and be ready to eat.

In between November and the week before Christmas she missed 16 days of school due to this. By February, she had missed about 21 in all.

I took her to the doctor during this whole process and we had her tested for many things. All of her blood work and allergy tests were normal. This was very perplexing and aggravating at the same time. It was hard on her and hard on all of us. It was very scary wondering what could be wrong with my child and no one having any answers.

Well, after 6 weeks of this her pediatrician diagnosed her as having CVS (Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome).

“CVS is characterized by episodes or cycles of severe nausea and vomiting that last for hours, or even days, that alternate with intervals with no symptoms. Although originally thought to be a pediatric disease, CVS occurs in all age groups. Medical researchers believe CVS and migraine headaches are related (see CVS and Migraine).

Each episode of CVS is similar to previous ones, meaning the episodes tend to start at the same time of day, last the same length of time, and occur with the same symptoms and level of intensity. Although CVS can begin at any age, in children it starts most often between the ages of 3 and 7.

Episodes can be so severe that a person has to stay in bed for days, unable to go to school or work. The exact number of people with CVS is unknown, but medical researchers believe more people may have the disorder than commonly thought. Because other more common diseases and disorders also cause cycles of vomiting, many people with CVS are initially misdiagnosed until other disorders can be ruled out. CVS can be disruptive and frightening not just to people who have it but to family members as well. There is no known exact cause and no known cure.” (source)

Abby lost weight (which she DID NOT need to do). Her color has been close to someone who is fighting a terminal illness at times, and she had no energy. Her doctor put her on medication for this back in December and she did well on it.

But my Abigail that was here before, was simply … gone.

I started doing some reading on CVS and found a whole support group, diets, how to plan your days around your child being sick… (WHAT!?!?! Who does that?) you name it. It was like some people are just accepting this as a way of life for their child.

All I could do was cry.

But, then I read the parts about diet and how children with CVS are seeing improvements by eating more home-cooked meals, veggies, fruits, filtered WATER, less processed meats, NO fast food, NO Sprites, NO packaged foods, not even juice boxes or Tyson chicken nuggets.

Well, at this point it hit me. Every year so far, until this year, I have persistently packed Abigail’s lunch. This year I decided to take the easy way out let her get lunches at school.

So, I started packing her lunches again. Turkey sandwiches, carrots, grapes, strawberries, apples, bananas. No chips. No soft drinks. A bottle of water and a Kashi Granola bar.

Breakfast is now scrambled eggs, homemade pancakes which I make on Saturdays and freeze, Kashi cereals.

In less than a week, she went to bed without a stomach ache. She stopped being sad at night, afraid that she was gonna throw up in the morning if the meds didn’t work.

She has been stomach ache free since February!!!!! Her color is back. Her energy is back. She’s gained weight. Her spirits are up. She’s completely off the meds.

At first, I kept asking her if she felt alright because I was in disbelief. I was shocked and waiting for it to go back the way it was! And every time I asked she’d roll her eyes at me laughing and say “Yes mom… I feel fine! I feel great!”.

After speaking with her doctor, we really think it might be something that is in the school lunches or just the school lunches in general. I have not heard back from her principal or anyone from the school. I just wonder how many children and people have been misdiagnosed with CVS or other illnesses like this all due to diet.

I know there are kids out there handling school lunches well.

But even if your child is doing well, I encourage you to watch the video below.

I am doing some more research on this and anyone who wants to weigh in and help out is welcome.


And just so we are clear, Mr. Big Government and School Boards, I decide what my child eats! Not You. I am her mother. Just sayin’.

(photo by


  1. Emily J. Hara via Facebook says

    Years of migraine headaches and vomiting in my childhood DAILY from preservatives and other crap in school lunches turned me into the health minded Raw and Vegan Chef that I am today. I dont understand how anyone in this day and age would allow their child to eat food from a lunchroom, much less eat food from a box from a regular grocery store, or without checking for GMO numerical labels on fruit or vegetables. Kudos to Ann Cooper and everyone else involved in the food industry making major changes.

  2. Josefina says

    This story made me cry. What a heartache to see your child so sick and be totally clueless. What a relief that the solution was so easy.

    The mere thought that government should have any say whatsoever in what children eat at school is horrendous.
    We live in Sweden and school lunches, sadly, are free. Some schools are ok with bringing homemade lunches, but my guess is that most aren’t. After my kid switched schools recently, he’s been coming home starving each day cause he refuses to eat the yucky cafeteria food. His teacher thinks it’s perfectly ok and does not want to make any accommodation for him to bring homemade lunches.

    • KristenM says

      WOW. That’s just awful. At least here we can still bring homemade lunches, although recently some schools have been passing rules about what students can and can not bring. While most of what they’re banning is obvious junk food (like candy bars), I still don’t like giving rule-makers that much authority. What if they someday decide to villify something I think is healthy and want to include in my child’s diet?

  3. says

    Yowza! I feel so bad for the kids whose parents rely heavily on school lunch programs to help them afford the rest of their food. For so many kids, school lunch might be the best meal of the day. Gone are the days of real food, home cooked school lunches, unless parents are able and willing to pack it themselves.

  4. says

    I went to a screening of short films about the Berkeley school lunch program last week, the district of the person in the video clip in the article. Check out Lunch Love Community to see them all. Amazing work they are doing! I’m very thankful my daughter’s school participates in the Farm to School program to bring local, real food to kids. (I’m ready for them to ditch the packaged PB&Js they still have though.)

  5. Kristi says

    I just wanted to add, in case you were not aware, but please let the mother know that Kashi has GMO grains in it. She will want to find a replacement for those as well. There were several stories on that in the last month. So glad to hear that she figured it out for her daughter and hopefully others will see this too!

    • Laura says

      I did not know about that Kashi being full of GMO’s But I know now! Thank you! Can you recommend a good one? Abby loves having a bar just for a snack or something every once in a while. But most of the times she has fruits and veggies. I have started shopping the organic fruits and veggies from our local suppliers the most. That has helped also. Thanks again!

      • Laura says

        The only common snack bar found in stores that has 100% real, whole ingredients is Lara Bars. You can also google “homemade lara bars” and find tons of recipes. They’re sooo easy to make, too. Most recipes require dates, nuts, and another dried fruit. Hope this helps!

    • says

      Kashi is owned by Kellog’s, so it’s no surprise that they contain GMO products. If you check your local health food store, they should have some good choices of non-gmo and organic bars for kids.

  6. says

    Shelly, I know! That’s what’s so surprising about this story to me. Not only are school lunches making this child sick, but her home-packed lunch (which is still full of convenient things like store bought bread, sliced lunch meat, and kashi granola bars) has made her better.

  7. Mike F says

    With regards to that video… we don’t need to teach the kids the importance of food… we need to teach the parents so they can teach their kids. It makes my blood curdle when people make an argument based on ‘social justice’ which is just a nice way of saying you get free choice between government approved choices.

    I think sugary drinks are awful but what Bloomberg is doing with outlawing super sized drinks is anti-freedom. People can’t be expected to make good choices when they are given bad information.

    • Jennifer says

      Major point! Teach the parents first. It’s tough though. Maybe both would be best. I’m so thrilled that we’re feeding our kids well now. For one they will not loose their ability to REPRODUCE by staying away from GMO’s. Secondly, I know they will carry on all this food education we give to THEIR children. As parents we need to first learn, then TEACH. This nonsense needs to stop in THIS generation.

  8. Tricia says

    Very sad but not the least bit surprising. So glad Laura continued fighting for her child instead of accepting what she was told. Who knows how long Abby would have suffered if she just gave in. Good for you, Mom.

  9. Anna Abbott via Facebook says

    Thank you for posting this – my daughter takes a home packed lunch daily but eats breakfast at school because of the time she gets there. She goes to the nurse’s office often for headaches and stomachaches but we NEVER are called about it. I’m trying to link those things to foods she is eating and the policy to just not tell me she’s been to the nurse is upsetting. Especially when we could relate it to a specific item she’s eaten on a certain day.

  10. Mom of 4 says

    This is so heartbreaking and a daily battle for me. I work in a very poor school district, where not only are kids living in poverty, but a significant amount of our kids are considered homeless. (And like the person in the video said, our kitchen is not a kitchen!) I help in the cafeteria during breakfast time (breakfast is free for our whole student population), and often feel nauseated watching these precious little ones chomp on garbage. What has me very conflicted lately, is the fact that I find myself encouraging these kids to eat this garbage because I know, like mentioned above, school meals may be the only “food” they get. We have got to turn this around. It is sickening that we as a nation are sickening our kids daily, and feeling like “at least” we’re taking care of those who need help.

    • says

      Hi Mom of 4,
      You could probably get a grant for a farm-to-school program, to start a school garden and/or a salad bar for the lunchroom. I know that Whole Foods has a foundation and they give grant money to under-privileged schools. I’ll bet you could get a volunteer grant writer to help write the grant.

  11. ziggi says

    Can I ask what the history behind school lunches is? I know in the UK during the war the children weren’t eating enough and were fed at school to make sure they had something. In Australia, we have no such history and all students take their own lunches. We do have tuck shops or school canteens (which often have questionable items available when not parent run), but the majority bring food from home. I couldn’t imagine sending my child somewhere that I didn’t have a choice about what they ate each day.

  12. says

    Originally school lunche standards in the US were started by the Department of Defense. The kids were too underweight/malnourished to enroll in the military. Currently the DoD is looking into school lunches because the kids are too fat/out of shape to enroll in the military.

  13. Wanda says

    It’s a constant struggle, I know, for young moms. My son has Tourette Syndrome, and when I finally realized that life became much easier. He reacted badly to food colors. I spent many hours in the grocery store reading labels for food colors. Do you know they put red color into strawberry jam although the strawberries are quite red already? He only went to kindergarten and then we started homeschooling, so he wasn’t eating school food, but the Grandmas! Oh my goodness they couldn’t be bothered to buy orange juice instead of orange colored substance. Add every food eaten onto the list. Too much trouble for them. My kids are adults now so I am somewhat removed from this, but I offer moral support for those of you trying to feed your children real food. Don’t give up. Be vigilant.

    • Allie says

      I’m with you, Wanda! No Tourette’s here, but my sons (3 and 18 mos) both have eczema, my daughter had reflux–at 6!– and all kids have had digestive as well as behavioral issues . . . until I insisted we dump all packaged food (as well as gluten, refined sugar, ect.).
      Insisting on REAL food has made a tremendous impact on them, and stories like this make me SO glad we’ve decided to homeschool!

      • says

        People should really look into the GAPS diet and Paleo. It’s been shown to reduce or eliminate digestive trouble, skin problems and allergies as well as reducing Autism symptoms ands ADHD. Basically don’t read a label buy one ingredient foods, egg, apple, carrot etc.

  14. says

    EXCELLENT, Kristen! Thank you so much for sharing. I had a similar experience as a child. The medical system referred to a child psychologist because the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me and they thought since they couldn’t find anything medically wrong that I must have emotional issues. My mom refused that course of action and instead did a similar thing in changing my diet, within a relatively short period of time, I was no longer vomiting once or twice a week. Although it took me many years to come to fully embrace a real food lifestyle, I know that this is TRUE and it’s only getting worse as time passes – we now have GMOs which weren’t around when I was a kid, so that’s why it’s so important for us to help educate families about the importance of eating REAL food! Thanks again for sharing this important information! Blessings, Kelly

  15. says

    Any time a diagnosis is just a description of symptoms, that’s a good sign the dr doesn’t know what the Hell is wrong. Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome? That’s why you brought the kid in! Transient Synovitis? Irritable Bowel? These things are not conditions, they are descriptions of symptoms. Look for the underlying cause! I love that real food made a real difference for this little girl!

  16. Martine says

    The standards for school cafeteria foods in this country are truly embarrasing. Schools and jails together get the bottom of the barrel absolute worst quality food. When I went to college–where I was required to pay for a meal plan for at least two years– I noticed every time I ate I felt ill afterward. Stomachache, various forms of digestive distress not convenient in such a social time of life… Eventually figured out it is that cafeteria food. I assume it’s a mega-dose of MSG, among other things.

    Kudos to this mother who didn’t accept a lifetime of chronic illness for her child. And shame on the doctors for not being able to figure it out! She was asking about granola bars… I’ve read the labels of many different bar-like things and have decided that there is no such thing as a good granola bar. They all have soy lecithin, processed/extruded grains, and an ingredients list a mile long. Check out this Food Renegade recipe for a possible homemade substitute.

  17. Julie says

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    You wrote, “I just wonder how many children and people have been misdiagnosed with CVS or other illnesses like this all due to diet.”

    I wonder about the use of “misdiagnosed”. Maybe this is a made up disease to describe people who are reacting to the non-food in their diets.

    • Laura says

      Exactly! I don’t think most Doctors want to figure it out. When a person comes in with a problem… They are content to prescribe the meds and indorse a system that is so fowled up between the food industry, medical industry and drug industry. I hate to sound like I am implying some big conspiracy… But that is sure what it looks like.

  18. says

    Food can cause so many problems that people are unaware of. I have a friend that was constantly sick. She decided to eliminate all dairy from her diet and wa-lah, she had no more flu/allergy like symptoms. She felt better than ever.

  19. Brooke says

    I so agree with this- and have felt very strongly about this since having my first child. But what I want to know is- what do I do to help change this? I live in a nice suburb in a “good” school district and have found that I’m the rare parent who cares about what my son eats. I would just love recess before lunch- selfishly due to the fact that my boy is a bear at pick up cause all he wants to do is play so he doesn’t eat. Any suggestions welcome.

  20. Lori Langone says

    My husband is a public school teacher, and I’ve been horrified to learn what the cafeteria in the school where he works is feeding to children. OMG! Bosco sticks with ranch dressing and pre-made pizza slices are not anyone’s idea of healthy food. And yet I keep hearing about all of the failing schools in this country. Maybe, just maybe, instead of beating up on teachers, we ought to take a really close look at what today’s toxic chemical products, inflated vaccine schedule, fluoridated/chlorinated water, and crappy GMO/antibiotic-filled/hormone-loaded “foods” are doing to children’s developing brains and immune systems. When will this madness stop?

  21. Nana M. says

    The video has important points regarding eating local, unpolluted, real food. I feel some of the foods recommended miss the mark though. A “food pyramid” like the one advocated by the Weston A. Price Foundation and Sandrine Hahn would be much healthier in my opinion. They advise including lots of saturated fats and don’t recommend lean protein choices. It can be viewed at More and more evidence shows that the long-standing fat phobia we westerners have lived with for the past sixty or so years has been devastatingly harmful to our health.

  22. Ashley says

    I am glad I found this page! My son who is 6, just started throwing up at school during lunch. Almost once a week and the teacher wants to have a “confrence” to see what is “wrong” with him. He has told me he doesn’t want to each cafeteria food but I too, tried taking the easy way out and make him eat cafeteria lunches. I have packed his lunch and had no problems so far.. Thank you for this page I thought “I” was doing something wrong!

  23. BreezyB says

    You DO KNOW the company that owns Kashi supported the fight against Prop 37. They DID NOT want GMO foods to be labeled in California..

  24. Wendi says

    Laura, if that had been my experience, I would be very curious about the exact meals that caused her vomiting. I’m so curious anyway, I’d be willing to do the research for you if you supply me with the days of her vomiting (or days absent from school) and the name of her school. :-)

    I’m so glad you didn’t just accept her illness as something you’d all have to live with because that attitude is what makes big pharma big money. Good investigating, Mom!

  25. Laura says

    We had a very similar situation with my daughter. When she started Kindergarten she was perfectly healthy. A few weeks into it, she became very sick…throwing up and diarrhea almost every day (sometimes up to 20 times a night). We made NUMEROUS trips to the pediatrician and she was put on antibiotics. The antibiotics did not resolve the issue, but only served to make her feel worse and contract C. Difficle, which is not common in children. At this point, we started seeing a pediatric GI doctor. She was treated for C. Diff and finally recovered. At this point, she had lost a lot of weight and did not feel well (no energy, no color in her face, sad and anxious). After her recovery from the C. Diff infection, we stuck to a very simple diet at home (lots of rice, soups, etc.) When 1st grade started, she seemed so much better that we thought the whole issue was related to the C. Diff infection. Boy, were we wrong! We found another pediatric GI doctor and started up with additional tests. Her bloodwork showed high levels for Crohn’s disease so, we schedueled an upper and lower GI scope so she could be formally diagnosed and begin treatments. This scope meant an overnight stay at the hospital and more diarrhea as she cleaned out her system in preparation for the tests. Needless to say, it was not a fun experience for her. The scope came back with a diagnosis of gastritis and esophogitis – NO CROHN’S! She has been taking prilosec for treatment and we are now following a completely different diet. We avoid fried & fatty foods, no acidic foods (tomatoes and OJ are out), no caffeine, very little sugar, limited amounts of dairy, no spicy foods or chocolate. Once I started changing her diet, I figured this really should apply to the entire family. I mean, who needs to eat that junk anyway? I started learning more about moving to an unprocessed diet and also buying as much locally produced meats and veggies as possible. We also have our own garden now, which the kids LOVE. It isn’t easy, nor is it cheap to make the switch, but the rewards are SO WORTH it! My daughter is now back to her normal self and I owe it all to changing our diets. I also have to give a shout out to blogs such as this one for consistently putting out good information and recipes. I would love to see a change with school lunches so that all children can have healthy, non-processed foods.

  26. Sylvi says

    I love the last sentence in the context of this article. Too bad there are parents who want to feed their children junk every day and use that same phrase. I will soon be sending my two boys to preschool, and it turns my stomach to think of all the battles I have ahead of me. Nutrition, bullies, bad teachers… I’m terrified. We can’t afford home schooling, otherwise that is what I would be doing in a heartbeat.

    • Beccolina says

      Sylvi, if your boys are only at the preschool level, homeschooling them should still be very affordable. Make cards with the upper and lower case alphabet to teach them their letters. Once they know their letters, use the cards to teach them their letter sounds. Count with them–march around while you do it. Work up slowly until they can count to 100. Work on ideas of greater than and less than, heavier and lighter, longer and shorter, left and right, etc. Check out Eyewitness books from the library and go through them for science and history fun. If you have the time (and not everyone does), they aren’t doomed to public school yet.

  27. says

    I am so glad to see this convo!

    With school shootings and gun control being such a hot and polarizing topic, I often find myself scratching my head and wondering why people don’t get as passionate about how the schools are poisoning our kids with the horrid school lunches.

    And “Box Tops for Kids”?? Pushing processed GMO foods on our kids? Sheesh. Don’t get me started on that.

    This is so mind boggling to me that I recently wrote a blog on the topic: “Which is more deadly? Guns or school lunches?”

  28. Amyleigh says

    Oh my…I could have written this post!!! My now 8 year old daughter went through the exact same thing when she started school 2 years ago, with the exception of the CVS diagnosis. I figured out on my own through process of elimination that it was school lunches (more specifically the meat) making her sick. I will never let my kids eat school lunches again!!

  29. Crystal Mazey via Facebook says

    It just breaks my heart seeing how poorly we as a society are treating our children. I’m so thankful for people like you raising awareness and keeping those who care in the know. Thank you.

  30. Mary Light via Facebook says

    Wow, another medical diagnoses ( & “medication”) that “really helped”. Eating the stuff on that tray would eventually cause anyone potential pancreatic obstruction, liver/gallbladder burdens, and general digestive disorder that goes far beyond coming up with a little name about a symptom. Why parents are not aware of the actual content of school lunches to begin with, and feel surprised that a truly healthy diet would improve health conditions? Why are parents still leaving these decisions to the “school system”- without checking it out? Even if some kids are “handling” school lunches “well”, they could still be developing ADD, ADHD, lethargy, hormonal imbalances, and more, as every person has differing strengths and weaknesses internally.

  31. Barbara L Thanos via Facebook says

    Mary: The answer is because the “parents” are consuming the same garbage on a daily basis. So they can’t connect it to “food”. Look I’m 64, and I can tell you that this chemical warfare started in, um, like around 1962-63! Remember Oleo? “margarine”?…..lord our mothers thought that was the best thing since sliced bread! I have been keeping tabs on proplyene glycol for several years now. In the past 5 years this poison has been added to so many products it’s mind boggling……..gee, I could go on for hours about this, but I’d be preaching to the choir……..

  32. Roxy L says

    I am 13 years old, and me and my friends do not buy lunch or eat it. We’ve been served ambiguous meat with a clear glop in it with veins and things. My friend asked for my roll one day, and she came home and vomited on her lawn. We’ve gone so far as to see bugs IN the jello. I really home the media will bring attention to this issue. I spend most of lunch in the bathroom because the smell makes me nauseous. I don’t understand how this is nutritious.

  33. Candace says

    Omg!!! My daughters have been struggling with the same symptoms for the past year and I too use to pack their lunch but they started a new school which gives free lunch to all students. I googled what to do when school lunch is making your child sick because this is the only thing I can think of that could be the cause. I am surely going back to packed meals and I really want help make parents and kids more aware. Our child should just have to focus on education not whether or not their lunch is going make them sick today.

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