It is only because I subscribe to Motherlode that I learned this is National School Lunch Week. And I’m thankful I read the blog, as it’s a great catalyst for my first post about food in the community. I bought a school lunch pretty much every day of elementary school, until I was old enough and motivated enough to make my own lunch. The youngest of three kids, I was informed by my mother that she was just “done” making lunches when I hit first grade. Here’s a $20, hon, that’ll last you the month.
When my Spitfire went to Kindergarten, I was already aware of the movement to improve school lunches and concerned about food safety at schools from exposure to books and films on the subject. I feel that change begins in your own home, and if I want school lunches to improve, then I need to make sure my kids are eating them and I am paying into the system. At the start of each month the Spitfire and I sit down with the lunch menu and highlight the meals she likes and I find acceptable. Today was one such meal.
And because I didn’t have a lunch meeting, I decided to join her today. One way you can start to make a difference in your kids lunch offerings is simply showing up. This can mean contributing to the system by purchasing school lunches and thereby growing the funds schools have to buy better produce, and it can also mean literally showing up for lunchtime and seeing what your kid eats. Today, mine ate a cheeseburger with lots of ketchup, honeydew and chocolate milk. She had tater tots on her plate but she doesn’t prefer them and had also dropped a few on the way to the table. I must confess that my upbringing of daily school lunches means that I do prefer them, so I ate a few of hers.
Today's school lunch
Usually, there is a vegetable–salad, carrots, green beans or the like. But today there were only lettuce, sliced tomatoes and pickles for the burger. The Spitfire eats hers plain. Ketchup was today’s vegetable of choice. I didn’t see any of her friends put them on their burgers, either. Now, the kids can opt for a veggie burger, and my kids do eat them, but they don’t know they eat them and would not ask for one. They think a Boca Burger is the same as any other burger and I’m not sure when the time is right to reveal my deceit.
Anyway, this trip to the cafeteria has me thinking about cheeseburger day. If she’s going to eat from the cafeteria on a day with no true vegetable, I’m going to have to supplement her day. That might mean sending Veggie Booty as her snack, or giving her carrots to take to the cafeteria.
When the official school lunch week is over you can still show up and make an impact any week of the school year. And, there are other ways to be active in your community’s efforts towards healthier school lunches. Greatschools.org has a brief and informative slide show on this very topic, with several ideas on how to get involved in improving the offerings in your school cafeteria.
As for me, my next step may be a note to the principal, asking how I can offer input into the school lunch program. I don’t usually attend our PTA meetings, but I could start doing so, with an eye towards getting the menu on the agenda sometime this year.
What are your ideas for improving school lunches?