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Why Dominos Pizza at Schools Have To Stop (The Shocking Ingredients)

There’s a very important update to my new book Food Babe Family that I want to share with you. 

It was really devastating to me.

I had a hard time grappling with it.

It kept me up at night. 

It made me angry…

Frustrated. 

Disappointed. 

But it also fired up my passion and reminded me why I do this work. 

I wrote this blog post so you’d know what happened and learn from it just like I did.

About one year ago, my daughter Harley was getting ready to start school and I knew they had Pizza Fridays with delivery from Domino’s…

As a food activist, author, and investigator of what’s in our food, I knew the ingredients in Domino’s are not something I wanted going into my daughter’s body every week.

At the same time, I didn’t want her to miss out on having Pizza Fridays with all the other children. 

So, I decided to ask for a change. At the orientation meeting, in front of all the other parents, I asked if there was an opportunity to change pizza places. I explained how Domino’s contains questionable ingredients…including TBHQ that affects children’s immune systems. I was hoping this would get their attention, because parents will do anything to keep their kids from getting sick. right?

But Immediately – I felt tension in the air. The consensus was that they wanted to keep Domino’s.

I felt defeated – but I didn’t give up. I emailed the school my research on Domino’s ingredients and made a case for change. I reached out to our favorite pizza place in Charlotte which uses organic ingredients and olive oil. I explained the whole situation to the owner, and she agreed to match Domino’s prices with free delivery. 

Harley’s school agreed to change, and they transitioned to local organic pizza every Friday! 

When this happened, I was over the moon! Every Friday, the kids at her school enjoyed organic pizza made with organic wheat, organic tomato sauce, organic cheese and olive oil for the entire school year.

At the time I thought…THIS is how you make a change in our schools! One small change at a time. One product, one food, at a time. Pick the worst food in your school and make a case for change. You may need to negotiate prices and do some footwork, but it is so worth it.

But not so fast!

Now it’s the new school year… and this is when everything came crashing down. 

A few weeks back, I wrote a letter to the school headmaster and to the owner of the local organic pizza chain to let them know I shared the story about Pizza Friday in my new book, and also to thank them for continuing to serve children healthier ingredients on Pizza Friday.

The first Pizza Friday of the school year was organic, but then the next week as I was dropping my daughter off at school I was stopped by the headmaster. I rolled down my car window and she said…

“I just want to let you know that we will be switching back to Domino’s for Pizza Friday”.

I was shocked. I asked what felt like a million questions…

My first question was “Why?”

And she said something along the lines of having trouble scheduling and that it would be easier to just do Domino’s.

Then I asked “But why Domino’s? There are pizza chains with better ingredients than Domino’s”

She abruptly said that this was their decision, and they just made it.

I was devastated and literally did not leave the school parking lot before calling the owner of my local organic pizza place to ask what was going on.

The owner told me that they had given the school over a 50% discount last year and to continue, they would need to increase the costs by a few dollars a pie.

As soon as I got home, I emailed the headmaster and asked her to wait before sending an announcement to all of the parents about Pizza Friday, because I had a proposal for her and wanted to meet.

She immediately wrote me back and said: 

“We are moving on to Domino’s.  I know that some people may not like this decision, but then they are not required to purchase.  It is difficult to keep everyone happy.
I will be sending out the email shortly.”
 

Time was of the essence, so I replied back by email that the organic pizza chain would raise their prices by just a few dollars, but that I would cover this in a donation to the school.

This way it would be the same price as last year and we wouldn’t have to change anything about Pizza Friday. 

Problem solved, right? 

I was anxiously waiting to hear back from her, but a few hours later…

The headmaster wrote a letter to the entire school telling them that they would be switching back to Domino’s on Pizza Friday.

I couldn’t believe this was happening.

I remember spiraling the entire day after I got this email. Everything that I planned to get done that day didn’t happen. I was so up in arms about it.

Not only did I take it personally because I had spent the time to research and make the case for this change…But also as a parent who cares deeply about all the kid’s bodies at school. No one should be eating these ingredients, especially our children!

I wasn’t given the opportunity to make this right even though I was willing to do it, and this was just so upsetting to me.

I immediately wrote back to the school and asked why they wouldn’t accept my donation. They never explained why.

The next morning I stopped the headmaster at the car line so that I could further explain my position. I reassured her that the organic pizza place was good with the scheduling and that I’d be covering the extra cost. I wanted my donation to be anonymous. 

She replied that they wouldn’t switch back and forth. And they were just not going to do it. She really was adamant about the decision.

I let her know that Kraft told me “No” five or six times before they removed artificial food dyes from their mac and cheese, and that I wouldn’t give up.

This fight is not over and this story will be continued.

This whole experience ignited my passion for what we’re doing at Food Babe and why I became a food activist.

I became an activist because all I want in this world is for kids not to feel like I did when I was little.

My parents and I didn’t know the truth about our food when I was a child. I ate the “typical American diet” that all of my friends were eating…McDonalds, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Cheetos, and Coca-Cola... and I felt AWFUL.

There are more than 30 Pizza Fridays in the school year. That’s more than 30 times that children will be eating pizza doused with Roundup weedkiller, GMO soybean oil, TBHQ that affects the immune system, and many more controversial ingredients. I think that’s too many times. Way too many. 

This may not seem like a big deal to some… but perhaps that’s because they don’t know the truth about Domino’s pizza. 

The next thing I did was I sent a letter to all the parents so they could see the ingredients in Domino’s and decide for themselves if this what they wanted their children eating every Friday. 

Since my daughter would no longer be participating in Pizza Friday, I also armed them with the knowledge of what we were going to be doing as a family to pack homemade pizza for her lunch on Fridays instead.

I still had to break the news to my daughter…

During this whole process, I was really concerned about what she would do or think when I told her what had happened.

Of course she’s been part of this conversation for so long and was already aware of what the ingredients were in Domino’s, so I didn’t really have to say that much.

While she was in the bath one night, I causally mentioned, “I think your school is changing to Domino’s for Pizza Friday”. 

She just looked at me and said, “Mom, why don’t you just send me pizza. I would love green peppers, red peppers and olives on it, please.”

I said okay and just kind of left the room in shock and disbelief. I thought to myself, she doesn’t care where it’s from. She just wants Pizza.  And so that next Friday I made her the homemade pizza she wanted, and put it in a little warming pack for her lunch. 

When I picked her up from school I asked her, “How was Pizza Friday?” And she said, “Mom, it was so amazing”. So I asked, “What it was like? Was it better than the local place?” And she said yes.

I felt like a hero that day. 

Throughout this nightmare, I kept looking for the silver lining.

What is this experience teaching me? I kept asking myself.

Harley is one of the few children in her school not eating Domino’s on Pizza Friday.

What is that teaching her? What is that showing her? What is she learning from that resilience? And why?

If we’re going to live in this over-processed world, surrounded by all of the McDonald’s and Burger Kings and Domino’s of the world, we need to know how to navigate these situations. 

I’m teaching her those skills, and she’s building that muscle to stand up and be different.

This might be the greatest gift that I give to my daughter!

And I want to give this gift to every family across the country.

Food Babe Family arms you with the tools you and your family need to stand up to the Big Food industry.

You don’t have to succumb to the pressures of society and fall for B.S. marketing campaigns targeting you into eating toxic ingredients.

And don’t EVER feel like your children are missing out when they aren’t eating the processed food that everyone else around them is eating.

They’re not missing out when they’re avoiding chemicals that cause cancer, gut issues, eczema, fatty liver, obesity, and type 2 diabetes!

So stop saying your kids are missing out when they aren’t eating Doritos and Domino’s with their friends. You are protecting them from dangerous chemicals, which is your greatest job as a parent. You could be saving their life!

This experience also taught me that we can’t give up…

Even when you think that you’ve got something changed, you can’t just sit back and believe it’s a done deal.

I’ve found this out the hard way so many times, and I should have known better. I’ve petitioned companies like Kellogg’s who said they were going to remove artificial food dyes from their cereals. They announced it all over the news, but then they didn’t do it. M&M’s did the same thing! Then General Mills removed the dyes from Trix cereal, only to put them back in the following year! It’s horrible. 

It’s these types of situations that ignite my passion and make me realize my work so important to continue going.

I know these are little gifts from God, that tell me that I’m here for a reason. I’m need to keep going. I need to continue to do this work. I can’t stop.

Even though the story I wrote about kicking Domino’s to the curb for the introduction to Food Babe Family is crushed (and I already have to update the book!) I hope that this situation inspires parents to keep going even when they face adversity.

Raising my kids on real food has never been an easy feat. I’m constantly bombarded with everyday situations that expose my kids to an industrial food system that is making so many children and adults sick today.

Every single time we leave the house, there’s some overly processed junk food available. Whether it’s at a birthday party, sporting event, playground, restaurant, you name it. It’s everywhere. Ultra processed foods made with chemicals that serve no nutritional purpose in the body.

This is why I wrote Food Babe Family. I want to let everyone know there’s another way to feed our kids. Together we can make a change and choose better. We can teach our kids the truth about food and be responsible for their health. My mother didn’t know the truth about food, but once you know better, you do better.

Food Babe Family is now available everywhere books are sold.

Pick up your copy from Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, or your local bookstore. You can also order online at FoodBabeFamily.com, Target.com, and Amazon.

My New Cookbook Is Here!

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ORDER TODAY

I can’t wait for you to get this book in your hands. If you know anyone who needs it too, please share this with them! 

Xo,

Vani

P.S. If you want to hear more about this story, watch the replay of the Instagram Live I did with pediatrician Dr. Ana-Maria Temple last night right here:

 

 

 

 

 

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30 responses to “Why Dominos Pizza at Schools Have To Stop (The Shocking Ingredients)

  1. Yeah! for you & your daughter! My family has decided to not purchase any products with seed oils. Is very hard for my husband who LOVES potato chips! Even to the point that at first he said what will a few chips matter. But it DOES MATTER. Thanks for being an example I want to follow.

    1. My husband loves chips too, we buy Jackson’s Honest, Boulder Canyon and Siete Chips… some are made with avocado oil and coconut oil.

  2. Bravo for sticking to your points despite the convenience-inspired pushback. I can understand how school administrators tread a fine line with parents who don’t care or who think nutrition concerns are for left-wing liberal elites. Nevertheless, it is very telling when a school principal descends to the convenient and non-controversial which equals CYA more than anything else. There is no lasting value in avoiding or ignoring problems. I feel sorry for Harley and you and wonder whether you wouldn’t be better off switching schools if you can.

  3. At the risk of sounding like my foil hat is on too tight, I’d be willing to bet that the Domino’s franchise owner made it “worth her while” for the headmaster to switch back. In the times we live in, this has simply become Standard Operating Procedure. The real reason I say this is that all discussion was frozen out. You didn’t get a chance to challenge it; she wouldn’t engage the rest of the parents. This tells me that this headmaster was locked into a decision, and simply wanted you to go away and leave it alone. You basically said she called it a done deal. The question, of course, is with whom was the deal made? My money’s on the Dominos owner.

    1. I have to agree. The headmistress was way to fast to change back without even considering your very generous offer. I just dont get how the vast majority or more of the parents dont care. What does that say about the state of our kids futures? If your own parents dont care these little guys are pretty doomed. But HUGE kudos to you Food Babe for all that you do and the changes and much needed enlightenment you are bringing to the world.

  4. I’m curious what the other parents think? Some ppl just don’t really care what their kids eat, its all about convenience. Just take a look in the shopping carts of ” Mom’s shopping at the grocery stores, so much crap. Sugar cereal, gogurts, fruit snacks, gatorade, the list goes on and on.

      1. Thanks so much for sharing! That was my question too. I live in Charlotte and I’m always scouting for the best places for healthy food. Thanks for keeping up the fight!

  5. I admire your tenacity in trying to change the system! I find eating real food so easy to do at home and so challenging everywhere else. We having been avoiding pizza days at school for 7 years now. The first few years I diligently made homemade pizza for my son’s lunch every week. Pro tip for anyone who wants to go this route: freeze small individual balls of dough and freeze pizza sauce in ice cube trays that way you can just take out what you need each week and throw on whatever leftover meat and veg you have on hand. Life got busier and now I pack homemade pizza for my kids occasionally but not every week. We have conversations around quality not quantity and how it is okay not to be like everyone else! Thank-you for reminding me I am not alone in this fight!

  6. Thank you SO SO much for continuing the fight! Thank you for your hard work! I have learned so much from you

  7. People like the headmaster are stuck in their old ways or like someone suggested above that Dominos probably got to her. They don’t care about the health of the kids and probably their own health as well. I ate Dominos a long time ago and I’m glad I quit, but it wasn’t because of the ingredients. The woman making the pizza had fake, long fingernails that seemed like they were harboring germs. Now I’m glad I quit eating it because of the ingredients.

  8. Vani I applaud you! I also thank you as I have learned so much from your research. It’s so good to see that you are not giving up and going along with the program. I can’t help but think that you would be an excellent consultant for the school and they are missing out on what is possible for the health of the children. You have proven that you understand their concerns as well and are finding solutions for them. I guess it will need to come to the children themselves saying no to the pizza for lunch. I know you are educating the parents and I do hope that this results in change. So God bless you and may your fight be successful.

    1. Thank you Therese, I too hope I can do more to inspire my daughters school community to eat real food. I have thought about starting a campaign to make it an “artificial food dye” free zone… Maybe that will be next 🙂

  9. Dear Food Babe,

    I’m so sorry for this frustrating and harsh experience. When people act against their own interests and their own responsibilities (i.e. keep children safe), I find there is typically a money trail. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.

    Warmly and in Gratitude for your leadership and good heart,

    Rachel Morris

  10. Unbelievable! Thank you for sharing and for your resilience. I hope other parents get on board. Thank you for all you do!

  11. THANK YOU for STANDING!
    I work in the school cafeteria in our community and it is so sad and sickening. The Federal government gives our district 1 million dollars a year to feed these kids garbage. Money talks! I cringe everyday that I prepare breakfast and lunches for these precious children.
    I voice my opinion and no one wants to STAND! I am the out cast!!

  12. Vani,

    You are just simply my hero. Truly inspiring, more Americans ought to have your relentless spirit of goodness and truth. Needless to say, I pre-ordered your new book last week. You are hashtag #momgoals #donotcomply

  13. Dear Vani Hari, Congratulations for your backbone approach to protecting children’s developing bodies from harmful ingredients especially Roundup & awful dyes etc! You amaze me with your way of educating us with REAL FACTS! Many thanks for your hard work and dedication to informing us with truth about processed and commercially packaged food! My age may be ancient BUT my body still remembers my grandparents organic garden whenever I buy and eat organic fruits and vegetables and homemade pizza with real olive oil!! Just remember, THE TRUTH NEVER DIES!
    The TRUTH cannot be buried or ignored because TRUTH lives forever!

  14. Dear Vani, kudos to you for your bravery, tenacity and unrelenting fight against a corrupted system!! You are a wonderful human being. It’s so sad to see how entrenched the schools are to institutionalized Big Food Corporations. It’s sick. We should not have to fight tooth and nail to protect our children from being brainwashed by slick marketing campaigns of processed foods. I worked at my kids Elementary school in the cafeteria for a week and I knew it would be shocking, but it was absolutely appalling to see the garbage processed foods that they give the kids. And to make it worse, their laughable attempts at “nutrition compliance” was absolutely pathetic. Some suits somewhere with the help of so called Nutritionists, aka people in bed with these giant corporations, decide the crap they will serve kids. It’s not about nutrition or health at all, obviously we all know that, it’s simply about money. Disgusting. I’m a chef and luckily have the skills and desire to make from scratch our meals everyday from real food, but I know for so many others, people are busy, don’t have the desire to cook every meal etc etc. Like you highlighted though, it’s not the one time a year of Domino’s Pizza, it’s the dozens and dozens of times, not to mention all the times the school gives out candy (horrifying), the cumulative affect is disturbing! I do think more and more parents are waking up to the damaging effects of processed foods, however I know there is still so much resistance out there. I don’t care anymore about being the odd one out. I wish you and your family continued success, strength and safety in your fight against these evil powers!!

  15. I don’t even have kids but have always been appalled at what they are feeding them in schools… What you did was amazing and I am SHOCKED the school switched back even after you were going to pick up the difference. How sad they don’t care more what is being put into those little bodies.

    Keep fighting!

  16. Vani, first thank you for what you do in educating us to the truth of what is going on with our food. This is a wonderful life lesson for your daughter…don’t be afraid to be different, to stick up for who you are and your values. Not just with food but in all other areas of life as well.

  17. How resilient of your daughter, and how great to learn the lesson early that homemade pizza just simply tastes better than any chain!

  18. Thank you thank you thank you. I have felt very alone in this battle in my household and community and just came across your story. It’s inspiring and I am inspired to continue my calling as a food activist. Maybe we will cross paths one day!

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