Thursday, November 20, 2008

School lunch

There's a lot of talk in the media these days about how unhealthy school lunches are, and how it is contibuting to childhood obesity in this country. Which has gotten me thinking:

1) Were you a buyer or a packer? Or some of both?

2) Do you remember how much your school lunch cost?

3) What was your favorite and least favorite school lunch?

In Elementary school, I had the school lunch menu posted on the refrigerator, and I looked at it each night and decided whether I wanted to buy or pack. If I remember correctly, it was almost 50/50. Lunch cost 85 cents (I think it went up to $1.50 + by the time I got to HS). Each morning, the teacher would ask for a show of hands for who was buying lunch. Every Tuesday we had pizza, and more kids bought on Tuesdays than any other day.

If you forgot your lunch money, there was a lunch aide from whom you could borrow, and she would write it down on an index card, and then she was always looming around with her card and her fanny pack, reminding kids to bring in the money they owed for past lunches. I think I forgot maybe once, because I was terrified of her. I think I honestly believed at the time that she was using her personal money to loan to students so they could buy their lunches. Out of the kindness of her heart. I also remember that she would eat your tater tots if you didn't want yours, because to her, they "tasted like candy."

I don't remember what happened in jr. high. I think I blocked it out.

But in high school, I packed 99% of the time, but this was a social decision. My high school had an East Cafe and a West Cafe. The same menu was served and you could eat in either one, but it was well known that the cool kids ate in the West Cafe. You needed to be pretty confident of your social status to walk in there. Everyone else ate in the East Cafe. But my circle of friends? We thought we were SOMETHIN', because we bucked the system and ate in the cool math teacher's classroom in the basement. He would leave the room, let us eat lunch and hang out in there, and the hall monitors looked the other way. I never understood why at the time, but now I think it's because teachers are sympathetic to the complications of social drama. And having to feel bad about where you eat lunch is just one of those things you shouldn't have to worry about everyday.

So what did you do?


Oma Froehle said...

I am older than dirt, and in elementary school we paid $1.50 per WEEK for a really good hot lunch. My favorite day was Friday, because we had macaroni and cheese or tuna casserole or fish sandwiches. All of these were good.

In high school, my best friend's mother ran the school cafeteria. I bought most of the time. :-) I think it cost 50 or 60 cents, but I can't remember.

Weed said...

I can't remember how much our lunch cost, but I didn't buy very often. I didn't like most of it. But sometimes I bought on Wednesdays (pizza day). They had these great peanut butter bars, kind of like reese's, and my brothers and I all liked them. My mom finally asked the cafeteria lady for the recipe, and she gave it to her, so my mom made them at home from time to time. Lately both my brother and I have been wanting them and my mom can't find the recipe anymore. She's been looking online trying to find them. In high school I always packed because I thought the food was gross. I sat with the same friends at the same table every day. But had I been given the option to eat in a teacher's classroom, I'd have jumped at it. My dad taught at my school and I used to get out of my study halls and get to go to his room or office to do my homework (or talk to a friend I was able to get in with me!) instead, which was always an improvement on the big study hall rooms.
In my years as a teacher I had some great school lunches--I used to teach at expensive private schools that could afford to provide healthy lunches with TONS of choices, homemade soups every day, big salad bars, etc. I miss those lunches (I didn't even have to pay for them because I taught there!). There were a lot of down sides to teaching at schools like that, but the lunches were definite high points!!

bluedaisy said...

I went to Catholic school and in grade school, you could only buy on Fridays- which was Ellio's pizza that moms came in and baked for us. And you got an 8oz glass bottle of Coke to drink. Healthy, right? In 7th grade, they added hot dogs on Tuesdays- which were boiled by moms in a GIGANTIC pot and made the whole school smell. You could order milk weekly. In high school, I alternated- mostly bought- and ate really crappy food for the most part. But I could have used your cool math teacher my freshmen year because I got stuck in a lunch that literally had only ONE other freshmen in it- thank goodness she was nice!!

Anonymous said...

Hello (it's mel your sister) so I never leave a comment but I am quit interested in this particular post because it cracks me how this highlights how different we are. For example your lunch menu ended up on the refrigerator, mine was always in a ball in the bottom of my bookbag. You looked the night before and made a decision. Lets face it baby sister doesn't plan ahead. I went to bed thinking I would deal with it in the morning, then sleep until the last possible sec. run out the door and reach my destination 5- 10 mins late. This has not changed and I am 23. But my favorite lunch was chicken nuggets. Again this has not changed. ~Mel

Pam said...

When I went to elementary school my mum was on her own, so my sister and I got assisted/free lunches. We were mortified so mum took a second job to pay for them (how guilty do I feel now). I had food money at high school but would usually spend the money on singles (music) or cigarettes, so would make do with a bag of chips for lunch. What a young tearaway I was - if Jack even tries to do that I'll kill him!

Mimi said...

Back in the "olden days"--even before Oma's time, our high school lunches were $.35. Even at that I only bought on Friday because I liked the fish sandiches/mac & cheese and wasn't even Catholic. I would buy the peanut butter cookies several times a week--they were the best! In grade school we didn't have the option, but had to walk home for lunch (uphill both ways!).