Super Chunk

I’m just talking here.

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on school lunches

January 17th, 2010 · 3 Comments

At some point this year, we’re going to move.  We live in the near south suburbs of Minneapolis; Dan works in Northeast (15 miles or so to drive each way), and I now work in a second-ring north suburb (20 miles door to door).  Kids go to school one suburb south, so that adds another 10 miles for each of us, as Dan drops off in the morning and I pick up in the afternoons.

This is too much driving.  This is too much of being pinned to a strict schedule so we can spend over an hour in the car (each of us, separately) every day.   This is not the life we really want to be living (though we both like our jobs very, very much).  Add to that the fact that we are putting another person in the mix in March, and, well, we need a different house.
We would very much like Becky and Adam to attend the neighborhood school, wherever our neighborhood turns out to be, so we’re looking right now and evaluating.  Last Friday we toured a school near Dan’s office - we found good energy, impressive artwork around the school, and intensive music possibilities.  We also found that specialists (art, music, PE, library classes) are scheduled for six weeks at a time - that is, you take art for your six weeks, every day, and then you don’t do it any more that year.  You get unfettered access to the library for SIX WEEKS out of the school year.  I counted 30 kids in a combined 1/2 classroom.  There are no funds for gifted ed, so kids who are ahead of the curve are at the mercy of their classroom teacher and his/her expertise at differentiation.  These are issues, but they are not what I want to talk about.

We happened to be there over lunchtime, and I was kind of shocked at the prefab nature of school lunches. Everything is in a little plastic pouch (”Orange Smiles” are orange wedges, yes, but sealed in a plastic bag and doubtless drenched in preservatives) or completely uniform in size and shape.  A&B eat school lunch once a week - they wanted to have hot lunch like their friends, and we wanted to moderate the money we spent on that and the weird food (sodium, empty calories, added fats, preservatives) they were exposed to.  It’s a compromise, and it basically works for us.  But I am kind of grossed out, now, by what I know is being put in front of them.  Full disclosure: When I buy lunch at my school, I get a made-in-front-of-me turkey sandwich or a salad from the salad bar.  I don’t think I’ve ever chosen to buy the featured entree.
Some recommended reading:  I just found Fed Up, the blog of an elementary teacher who is committed to eating school lunch every day in 2010.  She’s just a few days in, and it’s fairly enlightening.  I also read School Lunch Talk, which updates less frequently and focuses on national and government-level initiatives to improve nutrition in schools (and also the IMO egregious misuse and abuse that happens nationwide).  Every parent who is paying attention wants his/her kids to eat well and be healthy.  But the fact is that kids who depend on school lunch for sustenance, sometimes for their only meal of the day, are not getting good nutrition.  I don’t know what I can do about it, other than keep packing lunches for my own little ones, but maybe you will have some other ideas.

Tags: less than fun · daily · kid stuff · school · food · education

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Caroline M // Jan 17, 2010 at 9:43 am

    We are a packed lunch family. What really turned me off school dinners is that in our school it doesn’t come on a plate but on brightly coloured trays with sections for the food. The association for me is a prison food tray, it’s not something that I would like to eat off. They have a wonderful menu that is published for the term except that what appears in the kitchen each day bears no relation to the planned menu.

  • 2 Caroline M // Jan 17, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I had a quick look at “Fed Up” , our meals are cooked on site (cooked from ingredients rather than warmed up) and are proper food. If any of those meals were served here there would be uproar. Faced with that we’d be looking at packed lunches until school leaving age.

  • 3 dana // Jan 24, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Hi Christie,
    thanks for stopping by MADE.
    You can sew the pockets on before hand, but I often find that I’m able to “picture” the pocket placement when the skirt is all gathered. It may not be as symmetrical as it as before, once it all comes together. But I’m that either method works!
    - dana

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