School Lunch Redo

Ems and I were standing in line at the checkout at the grocery store.  I was ogling Southern Living and the gorgeous pumpkin pie on the cover, when Ems said to me.

“Mommy, I don’t understand why they can’t change school lunches.  I mean why can’t they make them like a lunch you pack me.  You could have one section where you pick your sandwich and it could be peanut butter and jelly, or turkey or ham or chicken salad, then you could pick a fruit.  They could have apples here and bananas or pears next to them.  And then down there on the end they could have the chips and stuff for a snack.  It would be so much better”.

She has a major point.  Why can’t they change school lunches?  I know they probably get like $0.23 to feed each child and so much of our food is caught up in a corporate nightmare, but really.  Can the school board and the county and the state and even our Federal government not have the wisdom of an eight year old.

It’s something I’ve considered over the last year or two.  Not so much for my kids.  I pack their lunches everyday.  That way they get fresh fruit and organic milk, but what about the other children.  The ones who we deem it so important that they get a meal every morning that we feed them donuts, honeybuns and Pigglesticks (pankcake wrapped sausage, for those not in the know).  Perhaps some of these kids wouldn’t get a breakfast at all, I get that  point.  Our school is a Title 1 school meaning that there is a high poverty level.  It’s based on the percentage of children who qualify for free or reduced lunches.

And I realize that children aren’t asking for fresh pears and chicken salad with apples and almonds.  I’ve watched Jamie’s School Dinners enough to know this.  They want cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets because that’s what they are used to.  I’ve seen the carts of those around me in the grocery.  I’ve seen the lines at McDonalds and I’ve also seen Food Inc, so I realize it’s not always easy for those on a limited income to afford fresh, wholesome food.

Ack, it’s a giant mess of a problem.  I just thought it was an interesting thought coming from my daughter and has jarred my noggin enough to want me to check into it a bit further.  In the meantime, she’s  good to go.  Chicken salad sandwiches and fresh pears.

Now if only I could get Boo on the bandwagon……..

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “School Lunch Redo

  1. What fabulous ideas she has…and really, it SHOULD be just that easy. At my sons school they are constantly sending home flyers saying not to send in sugary snacks..no more cupcakes on birthdays, no more candy and cookies for holidays…etc. BUT, they shorten recesses and take away PE AND they insist on feeding the kids chicken nuggets, or gristle nuggets as my boys call them…and those pancake sausage things are SO GROSS. It’s awful what they’re feeding the kids. But here too, the kids eating the school breakfasts are low-income and eat what they’re given. It’s sad.

    I have to say, a young mother at my church qualified for food stamps after her husband got sent to jail. She has two little girls…ages 1 and 3…and then her. She said they gave her so much money per month that she almost couldn’t spend it all. She was buying stuff just to buy it to use up all the stamps. This makes me think that they probably COULD afford to shop better…but a lot of times, people just don’t KNOW. Knowledge is power…and a lot of people just aren’t in the know. Frustrating…very very frustrating.

    I wonder if you could facilitate a healthy sandwich bar once a month…in the design that Ems thought of…and see how it goes. You might be surprised at the amount of kids craving GOOD FOOD.

    I wrote a novel…chatty today!!

  2. oh yeah, michelle, don’t get me started on the cutting out recess bit…….

  3. You said it perfect….if only they had the wisdom of an eight year old! Ha!!

  4. our school last year (small private) was the WORST – they went out and bought all FAST FOOD for the lunch program. They didn’t have the kitchen facilities for a full program.

    this year – much better. regardless, my kids only order once in a while. The girls did today – they ordered a sandwich which comes with an apple. Not organic but not too bad.

    btw, today I signed up for a new organic delivery. All the stuff I bought at Costco was horrible. the apples were organic but covered in wax.

    i’m chatty too.

  5. Your daughter is brilliant and very observant. Jamie Oliver has done wonders for our school lunches (called school dinners). There has been a huge uptake on them the UK due to his work. Maybe you can get him interested in revolutionizing US school lunches?

  6. Just wanted to pop in and say how much I am enjoying your blog 🙂 Plus I LOVE the girls jars – the save, spend and give ones, what a wonderful idea! I am going to start that around here, it’s very more-more, me-me, money-money sometimes around here when it comes to penny saving…..

  7. Liz

    You have a very wise girl there.

  8. Some of the schools around here are starting school gardens, and even composting, so something is happening. But you are right and your daughter is a smart one. Even when we got free/reduced lunches I would not let my kids eat the school food.
    Oh, some good things are happening here. Several of the farmer’s markets take food stamps, and there is an organization that sets up farming programs and farmer’s markets in low-income parts of town.
    Wouldn’t it be nice for our good research to be listened to? Someday…

  9. Don’t get me started. For 2+ years I served as co-chair and member of our school district’s wellness committee. We (parents) wanted (desperately) to change the thought process and methods of our school lunch program. Talk about a tough nut to crack. The lunch program director told me “I’m not about to tell my cooks that they have to peel 100# of potatoes; they’ll walk out.” To me that sentence speaks volumes. They see it as being too much work. For crying out loud they have machines that can do that for you, it doesn’t have to be done with a hand-held peeler. Then she also tells us that it would be easy to prepare fresh breakfasts for the kids that utilize the breakfast programs – eggs, oatmeal, toast. What? If it’s easy why aren’t we doing it? Because it would require a monetary investment in some small equipment. It just made me scream. Finally last year (4 years later) they are preparing several foods from scratch — soups, baked goods. And guess what? The kids liked them. Now at our high school they want to close the lunch hour? They say it’s for safety reasons yet a year ago I sat in on a meeting where they said they needed to close the lunch hour to keep the lunch program operating in the black (it’s doesn’t receive subsidized monies from the district). Well, guess what? Students retaliated — they started packing their lunches to make a point. Good for them.

    Sorry I got windy. Obviously this is a topic near and dear to my heart. Ems, you’re a smart cookie.

  10. Wise child! Comes by it naturally…

    Something wonderful has happened in some neighboring Maine schools: gardens. Parents volunteer their time and energy to work with the kids to plant vegetables. They tend them together. Then, as harvest comes, the school provides a “garden bar” in the cafeteria. The kids can make a healthy choice. And they DO — because they helped grow it.

    It’s so hard to change a system. But maybe if Em’s school has an open-minded administrator, and you can find parents to pitch in…

    Hurray for Ems!

  11. Pigglesticks? Really? How in the world have I missed this? Good heavens. Go Ems!!

  12. blueskyhi

    I’ve always thought that kids could probably run the world better than adults as they’re not tainted with racism, materialism and hatred.

    Our school is part of the “sip and crunch” program in which everyday the school sets aside 10mins where every child eats some fruit/veg plus alot of Australian schools are takin part in the healthy canteen program (no crisps, soft drinks, lollies, fried foods, etc) so salad sandwhiches, chicken teriyaki etc is the norm. We don’t have a school dinner system in Australia – thank God.

    Go Ems!!

  13. Pingback: Again With The Lunch « Under The BIG blue Sky

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