The One With Two Parts, Part Two

Aren’t you just dying to know what else has me anxious about next school year? Part 1 was here…

It’s the food. Yes, you read that right, I’m worried about FOOD.

While I’m not a health-nut, I am pretty conscious about what I feed my kids.  There are very few things with trans-fat in them in our home; I try to stay away from HFCS and artificial coloring.  The kids get several servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and lots of protein and fiber. However, they do also typically eat “kid fare” at lunch: grilled cheese, pb&j, turkey and cheese wraps, etc. We do eat some fast food, but it’s pretty limited.

But school lunch?  It’s the worst.  I read this article in Parenting magazine about the state of school lunches in this country, and it left me feeling really grossed-out. If you have a few minutes, and young kids, I highly recommend reading it. No wonder our nation is full of overweight kids.  No wonder “adult-onset” diabetes isn’t just happening to adults anymore, and it’s not even referred to as “adult-onset” anymore.

A typical week’s worth of lunch at Luke’s school looks like this:

Mini corndogs, baked beans, pears OR salad platter (available daily, but what self-respecting first grader is going to choose that over corndogs, I ask you?)

Pizza day – all of the local pizza places alternate providing pizza on Tuesdays. A fruit and vegetable is also served.

Beef taco salad or soft-shell taco, peach cup, chocolate chip cookie. Never mind all that. I’m sure he’d choose the salad platter.

Breaded chicken patty on bun, mashed potatoes with gravy, jello with topping. Or, there’s always the salad platter.

Chicken wings with hot sauce, potato wedges, fruit crisp. SALAD SALAD SALAD!

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Can’t you just picture the peaches swimming in heavy syrup? And the soggy fried potato wedges? Oh, and DAILY they also have Landshire sandwiches (think vending machine food) available in 2 meat/cheese combinations, and hot dogs and cheeseburgers, as well as cheese bread.

I have a plan in mind to attempt a healthier lunch and to compromise with my boy, who will want to eat at school sometimes (he and I have already discussed this somewhat). Of course, this may need some revision as time goes on, but having a plan will give me peace of mind until then. I’m planning to let him choose one day a week to eat at school, and I fully expect that he will choose pizza day. Which really, is fine with me…not the worst choice he could make. And, of course, I’m going to let him pick out a lunch box (the eco-friendly girl in me would love to see him get a bento box of some sort to not throw away so much plastic, but we’ll see what we find), and I want to take him grocery shopping with me from time to time to pick out foods that he’ll eat.

Now I just have to get over my own laziness about packing his lunch (which I plan to do the night before so that I’m not scurrying around the kitchen in the morning).

Any suggestions from other moms (or dads!) about school lunch? And you do think I’m a total weirdo?

17 responses to “The One With Two Parts, Part Two

  1. LOL at the weirdo question!!!
    I ate school lunch 2 times my entire 1st – 8th grade life!
    (8th grade i finally got brave enough to try hamburger day once and pizza day once)

    And high school — well i was best friends with the snickers in the vending machine – a coke from the neighboring soda machine and well of course the dominos guy out front!! 😉

    (My mom packed my lunch because i was picky more then because she was worried about the quality of the the lunches…. ) 🙂

  2. Weirdo, no. Although I was surprised that that was #2 of what you’re concerned about for school next year. I would have never thought to be thinking about lunches. And I know it’s something Savannah’s excited about!

    I never ate school lunches in elementary school and it frankly hasn’t dawned on me to think about my kids eating lunches there. I just assumed I’d prepare lunches for them.
    Luckily, (and maybe it’s just a novelty of younger grades thing) it seems the “cool” thing in our school right now IS bringing your own lunch from home, so I don’t think it’ll be an issue for us.
    Savannah’s class had a “practice” a few weeks ago with a rundown of the cafeteria and they all got a hot lunch and got to practice going thru the line and eating in the cafeteria for next year. Savannah came home complaining about the chicken nuggets and that she really didn’t eat much of what they had. I don’t think she was impressed with the schools’ food quality!
    She’s always been more a sandwich girl anyway… 🙂
    I don’t dread packing lunches in the morning either. Maybe it’ll be different when I have two or three lunches to pack instead of one each day, but packing a lunch for Sawyer once each week has helped to show me it’s really no work at all if I’ve given it any forethought. That’s the key! I’m just going to make a list of options and have them all ready to go at the beginning of the week to grab, assemble and stick in the lunchbox each morning.

  3. Hmmm…we’ve talked about this before and I guess I haven’t been overly worried because I assume I’ll be packing a lunch for Paige daily too. However, I just realized she is having a practice day tomorrow and without hesitation she chose to buy a lunch AND she is used to good lunches (some typical kid fare) but also things like bean & lentil soups and hot leftovers. Cold sandwiches will NOT be okay with her. Great. Now I’m stressed.

    • I think I just threw up a little in my mouth when I read about the Landshire sandwiches. We used to serve those in a pool concession stand I worked at in high school. We heated them up IN THE PLASTIC wrapper and served them to kids. I wonder how many people I’m responsible for poisoning?

      Anyway, that Parenting article is really good. Chef Ann, who is interviewed in the article, is supposed to be coming to our district this summer to meet with us. Despite a raging game of phone tag with our unreachable school district, we still don’t have a meeting set with the superintendent. It’s going to be a huge challenge, but I’m determined to see some changes in our district! is another place to check out!

  4. You’re not weird. The article is very accurate concerning the financial issue that largely drives school lunches and the low standards of acceptable nutrition. Money is absolutely the #1 factor.

    It’s sad, but you have to remember that this cafeteria lunch is a FAR BETTER meal than many kids get at home! And I’m not talking ghetto kids.

    I LOVED the days I took my lunch to school when I was young, and my kids never minded at all (at least I don’t think they did–Heidi? Andrea? . . . Matt?). Not that I made particularly healthy lunches . . . but I think they just liked what I packed better than the school lunches.

    One advantage you’ll have is that you’re a SAHM and won’t have such frantic mornings not only getting the boys out the door but also getting yourself ready for work. You’re the queen of organization–well, you & Andrea–and you’ll get in the swing of having most of the lunch (if not all) ready the night before.

  5. Your topic is perfect for us right now! Ryan’s summer school starts June 8 for 4 weeks plus his kindergarten is all day. Given that Ryan has eaten “school food” at the daycare for breakfast and lunch most of his life, he has ASKED to take his lunch to school!

    I let him pick out a lunch box over the weekend. He also picked out one of those thermos things that will keep drinks cool. He has spent the week telling everyone about it!

    Ryan’s school will allow you to pay ahead so that the child can purchase items. You can designate what the money will be for: milk only, lunch, snack. We paid the entire cost of the lunch program and that money will roll to next year if he takes lunch at any day.

    One thing that will be easy for us is that I pack my lunch the night before. It won’t be hard to add his to the list. I know he won’t eat the veggies I pack…

  6. This comment is coming from both Dana and I: We both ate school lunches our entire lives, grade school through high school. Call us nonpicky eaters…but I think the only times we ever brought our lunches were on field trip days. The funny thing is my wife being a teacher still eats school lunches (somedays the hot lunch being served and somedays the salad bar). I guess our unnutritious-selves must have been made for each other! Enjoy those school lunches, Luke!

  7. i grew forced to eat the school lunches because, well, they were dirt cheap. we got to pick one day a month to bring our lunch and that’s it. while, i don’t think that school lunches are the healthiest food a child could eat, i do think there could be far worse than what was listed on luke’s lunch list. it all boils down to what works best for your family. i think it’s awesome you try to give your kids healthy meals. i try to with adali but i also try to go for high calorie stuff as well…and sometimes that means VERY unhealthy pudding. 😉 oh well…

  8. I loved taking my lunch, especially if mom bought lunchables! 🙂 i remember the monthly calendar the school would distribute and circling the days that i would eat at school. (mmmmmm….tator tots!) it was definitely not based on health, but i think we are more health-aware as a society now. i also remember mom making sure i stuck with 2% milk instead of chocolate milk in 1st grade.

  9. I also loved taking my lunch. Heidi– lunchables! Hilarious. And don’t forget squeez-it fruit drinks. 🙂 I do remember eating school lunch at times, too, and I don’t remember minding it too much. The worst part was waiting in line. Now, as a teacher, I pack my own lunch everyday. Mostly for health reasons but also because I’m a picky eater and still don’t want to tackle the waiting lines!

  10. I know this viewpoint may not set well with those in the education field, but the far left views of the NEA and the “curriculum” it endorses and expounds would be a far greater concern for me than what goes in my child’s mouth on occasion. I would be far more upset with “Tommy has two mommies”, or no bullying of gay students; than any cheeseburger or cheese bread he/she consumes. I do have to confess , tho, that I am pathetic when it comes to what I eat, and it is readily noticeable. Maybe I am not a good authority on this topic. Poppa Sam

  11. One of the biggest issues in our city school system here? Kids can GO BACK FOR SECONDS after everyone has been served WITHOUT having to pay again.

    We put a stop to it as soon as we found out with my stepson; simply taught him what healthy eating was back in first grade. Now, in third grade, he chooses the salad bar most days.

  12. GOOD FOR YOU! I’ve been making the boys’ lunch for 2 years now and I have to say that I hated the first year but have grown to love it this past year. We have no choice: our school has no cafeteria. But at our last school there was food, and the menu looked exactly like what you describe above. When we were there I was lazy about lunch and let my older son buy lunch every day, but now I am so glad it isn’t an option!

    Our boys eat so well out of their lunchboxes every day I can hardly believe it. The best thing we’ve done is to buy them special lunchboxes – from It’s a Bento box with 2 small compartments and 2 large ones, and it helps (1) me not give them too much, (2) them realize what a healthy meal looks like, and (3) my younger one plan out what he’ll eat first, second, etc (this is very important to him). Every day they get a PBJ (all natural bread and ingredients from WFM), a cut up piece of fruit, several raw carrots, cut up cheese and a few pieces of (healthy) turkey jerky (I’m a protein freak, and since they eat right after PE I want the extra protein for their muscles). Occasionally the meal varies, but they are big stick-in-the-muds, so they really don’t care if it’s always the same. The school provides milk and water, and you cannot bring juice, candy, cookies, etc.

    I totally vote for packed lunch over cafeteria food! Although I’d still be going for pizza day if I were Luke – just the once a week treat you need!

  13. I’m freaking out a little too. That all sounds so gross!
    I plan on doing a lot of the Armour lunchables at shop n save. THey’re 10 for $10. I know its a lot of nitrates, but it seems to be better than that other crap! It was hard for me this year to pack lunch once a week. What am I going to do for 5 days?

  14. Pingback: WFMW: My Mom Would Be So Proud! « Here’s the Diehl

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