Sunday, September 16, 2007

What's For Lunch?

After each new school year begins, it is always fun to ask my kids how many students in their class bring a lunch from home each day. Generally the answer is one or two, themselves included. I, for one, am a HUGE fan of home-made lunches. Let me share some of my reasoning with you:

1. School lunches always have been, still are, and always will be pretty much disgusting.
2. Sack lunches from home can be catered to fit the likes and dislikes of each child.
3. Items in a lunch from home are much more valuable in the lunchtime trading game because no one else has them.
4. It is a way for kids to have a little piece of home while at school.
5. I like to decorate lunch sacks with pictures, jokes, and each kid's name.

On occasion we will send our kids with money to purchase a school lunch (like if I am having a baby that day or we all slept in or we ran out of sack-lunch staples like bread or fruit). When they return home I will ask, "How was lunch?" The answer varies. Here are some of my favorites:

"It was pizza day - I hate pizza day! They just re-heat already cooked 5 Buck Pizzas and the cheese is all mushy and the crust is like cardboard."

"I was excited because there were apples, but they were the kind that taste like they store them in vinegar. The lunch lady said they were called Red Delicious. I call them Red Disgusting."

"I think it was supposed to be macaroni and cheese, but it was just gross."

My kids tell me about their friends who get the cafeteria lunches, eat what they like (usually 1/3 or less of what they are served) and dump the rest in the garbage. Do their parents know what they are paying for? Is it really worth it? Is there something I am missing here?

I love making lunches for my kids. It is fun finding jokes that they will enjoy to write on the front and adding an unexpected treat in the bottom of the bag. They are always pleasantly surprised when the typical PB&J is replaced with a bagel and cream cheese, a tortilla roll-up, or their favorite, tuna. I always add a vegetable or fruit, depending on what I know my kids like and will eat. Apples, carrots, celery with peanut butter, pears, green pepper slices, cherry tomatoes...we even sent 'cucumber popsicles' (peel the cucumber, cut it in half and insert a stick in the bottom - it looks like a lime popsicle and is great for dipping in ranch!) for a while one year when our garden was overflowing with cucumbers.

At a time when treats are no longer allowed in classrooms and parents are not allowed to bring homemade items to share on birthdays, shouldn't someone be concerned about what's going on in the food line at the cafeteria?

Here is my suggestion:

The school principal and lunch staff should be required to eat what is being served for lunch that day. If they think it's worthy of them, it can be served to the students.

But my family will still be bringing sack lunches, and you're going to want to trade for what they've got.


Teachinfourth said...


I am in total accord with you in regards to school lunches! Therefore, this is the reason why I bring a home lunch each day too. Of course, when they have Hawaiian Haystacks I just can't seem to control myself...then again, that coconut cookie is about the sickest thing I've ever had.

Rebecca said...

Do you write notes/jokes EVERY DAY? Wow. That's impressive, Gerb.

I get a bit lazy with my kids' brown bag lunches. I figure, anything I pack for them is going to be better than what I'm eating at home--leftover crusts, etc.--which is still a step above many of the school lunches, I'll admit.

But since last school year, Doug has been the chief lunch maker/bagger in our house. He makes his own to take to work, and he prepares lunches for Kate & Emmy at the same time. They love his lunches, and I love that he does that. It's a service to me and to them, I think.

If you really want to change what the schools offer for lunch, you should talk to my sister, Sarah, who works for the SLC school district doing just that. She'll explain how difficult it is to do! (It's actually a very interesting and complicated issue, which I recently discussed with her, myself.)

Methodical wormer said...

"I call them Red Disgusting" ...totally laughing my butt off at that one!

Cami said...

We have yet to discover the world of school lunches. I agree they are disgusting!

In my early school years I went Oldenburg Elementary. The food there was actually delicious! They would even allow us to go back for "seconds."

In 4th grade we moved to the Intermediate School. The food there was just plain gross. Same as in High School. We didn't have 'open campus' either. Although, my friend Cheryl and I would often skip lunch and go visit my mom at the local McDonalds (which is not much better than cafeteria food). My mom would lovingly scold us, but they say, "I don't blame you."

In a few years, I'm sure Kate will be joining the few who "brown bag" it!

Mom not Mum said...

(like if I am having a baby that day or we all slept in or we ran out of sack-lunch staples like bread or fruit).

Hahahaha that was classic. I think I just woke up my children from laughing!!

Here school lunch is "compulsory" which means they charge you for it no matter what. We were in luck though and my oldest son actually spent 15 minutes with the school cook who then decided the boy would eat nothing he cooked so he should bring a packed lunch. The other 2 eat school lunch - and no we don't pay for Jackson's lunch since the cook gave us the ok to pack! Crazy, I know! I do have to say that the British school lunch at their small school is homemade and nothing like American school lunch - I just have a picky child - he makes his own packed lunch though.

annette said...

I know I'm the odd man out here, but, generally, I actually like school lunch, and so do my kids. For 5 years, my kids went to private school and took their lunch, which they made. Now, granted, I wasn't quite as creative. It was usually ham & cheese or PB & J with drink, chips, and an extra. One of the things they were excited about when we moved was they didn't have to eat home lunch any more! (Only if they wanted). Still, I remembered my school lunch days and some lunches I didn't like (hotdogs & sourcraut (sp?) or chicken fried steak and gravy. YUCK!), so I decided to check out the SSV menu. They make the rolls and cookies themselves- YUM. Most of the food is actually pretty good, although certainly not everything- BUT if you don't like what's served, you can choose a sandwich. (NOT Fair! I had to wait til Jr. High to get "choices"!) I've spent some time with those lunch ladies and I'm amazed at how much they actually make/bake themselves, and they do know their stuff. But, I do admit, it's no where near restaurant quality and unless you qualify for free or reduced lunch, it ain't cheap either. Don't get me wrong. I am a fan of home lunch too, (esp. if Gerb's making it!), but I do like variety.

Teachinfourth said...


It all depends for me...what are they having? Like I said, if it is Hawaiian Haystacks, set me up!