Thursday, January 08, 2009

Lunch

For the two of you out there who send your kids to public school, may I ask, do they tell you strange stories about their lunches? If so, do you believe them?

When I was a kid, I loved school lunches. Especially by the time I hit high school, when, no joke, I not only ate my lunch with whatever dessert was served, but also my friend's dessert and sometimes, my friends', desserts.

Oink.

Tangent: Not only was the food great, but the cafeteria ladies knew your name, or at least acted like they did. They seemed proud to serve up each day's choices and would occasionally share recipes if enough people asked.

I know this is a sweeping generalization, but I maintain that in today's public school cafeterias, much has changed. The workers do not seem "emotionally invested" at all in the lunches, at least in my experience as a middle and high school sub. I've heard it's because they have no choice in what they offer; it is all preplanned, some of it pre-cooked, and sent to the schools to re-heat. It's hard to get excited over re-heating food, I guess. Unless you're me. (Because to me, re-heating is better than cooking, and cereal is best of all.)

Back from tangent: One of the questions I ask my daughter and her friend when I pick them up after school every single day is "What did you have for lunch?" And then I smile to myself because I know entertainment is about to spew forth.

"Mom," she says emphatically, as if "Mom" is a statement, and not an introductory salutation. "Mom."

"Yes?"

"You wouldn't believe what we had today."

"Oh yeah? Was it bad?" I ask, hoping she's about to drop the badness bomb I've come to know and love.

"Here's what we had: apple sauce, a regular apple, a salad, which was really shredded lettuce with half a boiled egg, stuffed bread sticks filled with something like cheese substitute, and spaghetti with water."

"You mean they didn't serve milk today?"

"No, we had milk."

"You said, 'spaghetti with water.'"

"The water was in the spaghetti. The spaghetti was in the water."

"EW. That's terrible!"

"Yeah," adds the friend. "It was like spaghetti soup."

"Ah" I'm thinking, "Now we're cookin' with ... water. This can only get better." I say aloud, "So you had apples and ... apples? What's up with that?"

"I don't know. Maybe kids with braces can only eat applesauce, but it's all runny. And I was still hungry because the fruit and salad didn't fill me up, so I used some change to get Chex Mix."

"Niiiice," I'm thinking. "Junk food on top of spaghetti soup." But I say, "So did that help?"

"No, because I couldn't get the bag open, so I pulled real hard and split the sack and the Chex Mix went everywhere, and I had to clean it up, and then lunch was over."

I'm hoping she didn't have a big test right after that because she was running on apple and lettuce fumes at that point.

That was yesterday. Today her friend said, "Did you see Ethan's spill down the front of him?"

Kristin replied, "Yeah, what happened?"

Friend: "He spilled his turkey tetrazzini."

Me: "How can you 'spill' turkey tetrazzini all down the front of you; I mean, doesn't it just plop?"

Them: "No. It was turkey tetrazzini in water. Water was all in the turkey tetrazzini."

And so it goes. On and on. Day after day. But I wouldn't miss the daily lunch report for anything because I know in two years, it'll all be water under the bridge spaghetti.

Do you have any lunchtime memories? Do your kids have stories?

51 comments:

a Tonggu Momma said...

The Tongginator lives for the day (this coming September) when she can go-to-kindergarten-and-eat-lunch-at-school (said all in one breath). I have an allergy to most food preservatives, so school lunches are a death sentence for me. Literally.

RissaRoo said...

You have me ROTFL yet again! My favorite school lunch was the pizza, which was a little rectangle the same size and shape as the "main course" indentation on the lunch trays. It was extremely soft and pliable, and a kid could roll it up, fold it into all sorts of shapes, or stuff the entire thing into the opening of a single-serving carton of chocolate milk. It didn't taste too good, but it was far more fun to play with than sloppy joe's or fish sticks! Ahhh, the memories.

Kelly said...

I remember certain lunches were really good. The lunchroom lady at my high school was a truly great cook and she made homemade peanut butter cookies that were the best in the world, and we ate them for snack with chocolate milk (you got 3 cookes and a half-pint of milk for 50 cents). On Friday's we would have fried chicken with mashed potatoes, green beans (yuk) her homemade strawberry cake and her homemade rolls that you'd have to pay a nickel for an extra one. Both my kids are out of high school now, but they didn't have the lady we did - she died several years ago. Their food is similar to your daughters. They had to pay 10 cents for a packet of ketchup. And they're supposed to be so nutritions now, but they'll serve macaroni and cheese with corn and potatoes. Its a sad commentary on the way things in the world are now. They try a little too hard to have "nutritions" lunches, I think and it gets overdone. Oh, and my son and his college roommate LURVE high school sqaure pizza! My son teaches and on pizza day his buddy, a CPA now, will come to the school to eat lunch with him!

insertgracehere said...

Well, I'm totally thrilled that I happened by here tonight. Uh, almost morning.

I must be one of the two people with kids (well, kid...three girls: 18, 16(on the 23th, anyway) and 2.

So that would be one in public school.

First, I was like you. LOVED, LOVED, LOVED public school lunches. If nothing else, we had two lunch choices in high school: sandwich line or hot lunch line. I could eat those hamburgers like Wimpy from Popeye. Loved the Pizza and of course, the rolls. I stood in line for two rolls just like those football players. I wasn't too proud. Who cared if my friends were eating from the salad bar and drinking skim milk? I drank choocolate milk (IN A CARTON! Imagine that.) every day. TWO CHOCOLATE MILKS. It was devine.

Not so anymore. I hear simliar stories. One common theme is eating something like spaghetti one day that looks like it morphed into the next day's chili and then perhaps burritos that just possibly could've been Monday's spaghetti.

EWWWE!

My mom has been to lunches with my neice many times and she gets down right bent out of shape.

What happened to the reality series dealing with these kinds of issues? We need some serious public school lunch makeovers.

Now, I think I'll go have a midnight snack. ;0

Rena Gunther

Chel - An Abiding Branch said...

When I was in Junior High - cuz that's what we called it - there was a rumor that there were roach eggs in the rolls.
I never ate another one.

In High School we had an open campus...so glad my dtr doesn't!!!
if'n you know what I mean. We would speed all over town just to see how far we could get during our breaks! YIKES!!!

Chel

Big Mama said...

To this day I have fond memories of the chicken-fried steak that they served in my elementary cafeteria with a side of synthetic mashed potatoes.

And I can't even think about the crunchy burrito covered in chili that I ate with a side of fries every single day in high school or I will weep over my loss.

And the fact that there was a time I could eat 4000 calories in one sitting and not gain a pound.

Big Mama said...

To this day I have fond memories of the chicken-fried steak that they served in my elementary cafeteria with a side of synthetic mashed potatoes.

And I can't even think about the crunchy burrito covered in chili that I ate with a side of fries every single day in high school or I will weep over my loss.

And the fact that there was a time I could eat 4000 calories in one sitting and not gain a pound.

Esthermay said...

My memory of school lunch is using my lunch money to buy violin strings and rosin and if I got hungry, I’d eat peanuts from a vending machine and the fruit from my brother’s lunch (which would have rotted in his locker anyway). I’m disturbed by your daughter’s experience since I’d heard that the school lunch programs in the United States had been greatly improved to address the crisis in childhood obesity, provide nutrition education, and teach ecological knowledge ... and blah blah blah. . . yes a sweeping generalization as you say.
Again, you make me reminisce and laugh (and laugh!) and reflect again on my own brilliant decision to HOMEschool my children. They eat raw cookie dough for lunch.
Happy Day!
~esthermay @The Heart of a Pastor's Wife

Becky said...

Too funny :-p I always packed my lunch...well most of the time. We had open campus so fast food runs were the norm when I wasn't brown bagging it.

Tiff said...

Eghads, turkey soup, YUCK!!! I'm with you, used to love school lunches, we must be the only two on the planet LOL

Sheryl said...

My daughter absolutely hated school lunches (she graduated in 2007).

They aren't very healthy, I can tell you that.

Sheryl

Smilingsal said...

Having recently retired from a public school, I can vouch for the cafeteria food. It's not healthy, but it does taste good.

Kay said...

I loved public school lunches too! They were great... esp in junior high (that's what it was called then) and high school. The spaghetti was a favorite and it was MINUS the water. : ) All through school they served the most ginormous HOMEMADE cinnamon rolls you ever laid eyes on...oowy gooey and loaded with icing.. oh yes! I miss those sooo bad. But it was all good. I didn't mind eating it at all.

My ADHD Me said...

I went to a private school from k-8. We didn't have a choice, just eat what they gave you...it was ..er..ok.

Then I went to public school 9-12. They alternated a little bit...somedays there were ham and cheese sandwiches or hamburgers and fries. Other days there were hamburgers or ham and cheese sandwiches and fries. It didn't really matter to me because if my mom remembered to give me money for lunch I usually spent it on something else anyway.

My kids go to public schools. Luckily I can put the money in an account and I know it is going towards lunch. They used to have great choices. INCLUDING little Chik-Fillet and Pizza Hut booths. HOWEVER, then they decided that everyone is obese and changed the menus. Most days there is a choice of chicken nuggets, corn dog nuggets or turkey nuggets. WHEW! Thank goodness they are going for healthy now! ALSO, they took all the regular sodas out of the machines and swapped them with DIET SODA!(that's healthy! ha) Remember milk? Luckily at the middle school they still have milk only.

My ADHD Me said...

Oh yeah...and PIZZA! How did I forget the PIZZAA!!!

Chatty Kelly said...

When I went to school, the cafeteria lady (Mrs. Stout) called me her "Vegetable Soup Girl" becuase I always got extra on soup days. Yes, they were invested in us.

My daughter goes to a school with no cafe, so I pack her lunch everyday. All I hear is what she gets when she trades what I packed for what someone else's mother packed.

Dena said...

You have to be the first person I have ever known to say they liked school lunches.

Fortunately since we live in such a small rural area, we know the school cooks by name and a few of them go to our church. They are great ladies.

My son has hypoglycemia and keeps a container of crackers in the lunch room so he can grab a handful mid-morning between classes. When he was in elementary school, he sat in the lunchroom to eat them and the lunch ladies fell in love with him and let him sit in the kitchen so they could talk to him while he ate. At that time he was the coolest kid in school because he got to actually see inside the "black hole" known as the kitchen.

While he likes the ladies, he is the pickiest eater on the planet and to this day I have never heard him say they served anything he has liked.

beckyjomama said...

And I have now made the decision to send lunches to school with my daughters ... at least until they are teenagers and the stories get entertaining!!!

I remember good lunches too - and the ladies did know all of our names, and USED them. Plus they knew what we liked - I would always get an extra serving of fries slipped onto my tray cause they knew I was a fry junkie ... some things never change!

lmerie said...

Yep, public school lunches are kinda scary. The man would come home in terrible moods - swinging out of control. We finally figured out he was eating hardly anything for lunch b/c he did not like it. So we would figure out ahead of time what was when and what days he would take lunch. It was funny to me because when I was a kid, my parents could not afford the school lunch and every day I took my lunch - bolgna sandwich or some form of peanut butter sandwich (peanut butter and jelly; peanut butter lettuce and butter - was good; peanut butter and honey) I hate sandwiches! Anyway, I always longed for the school lunch!

Mocha with Linda said...

We were allowed to buy our lunch once a year for our birthday. No joke.

(But I'm not complaining because my dad's frugal ways enabled my mom to afford living in that Assisted Living apt for 7 years!)

My kids have always taken their lunches as well most of the time. In elementary school, Friday was pizza day and "Mom doesn't pack lunches" day. But my boy hasn't bought a lunch since elementary. Says the lines are too long. And he's happy taking the same.thing.every.single.day. The girl buys her lunch about once a week or so.

But most of the lunchroom stories these days have to do with the pathetic behavior of undisciplined kids.

Autumn said...

First let me say that I love your blog... I've been reading for a while, but this is my first comment! Thank you for the laugh... I feel like the Lone Ranger sometimes because we send our son to public school! Now I know there is one more!! As for his lunches, he seems to like them. But, he's only 9 and it's still cool to like school food! As for me, I have fond memories of veggie soup and PB and J day!!! And, our cafeteria workers did seem to know us and care about us!

Pamela said...

Durning high school, I loved most of the food they served. If it was something I didn't like, they always had the salad bar...which was great. They had a lot of choices to top off the lettuce.

What was also great (senior year) was the teacher that would let me go five minutes early to get his lunch and have it sitting at the teacher's table and then I could get mine. Never had to wait that year.

My kids always packed their lunch. They didn't care for food served. My son played basketball the last two years of high school and I would have to pack a huge lunch plus snacks to get him through the day. He was always hungry when he played sports.

Have a great day.

Merrie said...

I hated school lunches - except for the rolls. We had to be a member of the "clean plate club" to get special rewards. Usually the food was so bad and the milk was always warm in plastic milk cartons. The plastic would float in the milk and I would gag... I HATE milk and always have. That was horrible...
Then my mother started fixing my lunch so she could send tea in my thermos... but, she also made me "delicious" sandwiches from pickle loaf and potted meat and whatever else happened to be on special that week.
To this day, I do not like sandwiches and just the thought of the smell of my lunchbox when I opened it still nauseates me. seriously... bad!
But, I would trade my entire lunch for a school roll - now THAT was good eatin'!

Greg C said...

We found out a few years ago that our son was eating all alone because one of the girls in his class told everyone that he had something wrong with him. When he finally confessed that it was happening we went to visit him at lunch and the teacher said "I wondered why he was eating by himself" Grrrrrrrrr

Cheryl said...

My kids attend a private school and most days, their lunches are pretty typical but on Wednesdays....blessed Wednesdays. They have made from scratch fried chicken, some kind of veggie like squash or turnip greens and macaroni and cheese and cornbread!
If you ever want to eat lunch with the kids, Wed. is the day to go!

Yes, we live in the deep south!

Melanie @ This Ain't New York said...

When I was in elementary school, the lunch was great. The soup was my favorite, along with bologna cup.
After that, it got progressively worse. High school- didn't even eat. We got a salad and potato bar and all the girls were sooo excited. But the potatoes were always rotten and no kidding- things were crawling in the lettuce.
It was uncool to take your lunch so the cool girls, ahem, just went hungry.

Susan Storm Smith said...

YUP, ROFL me 2! I used to eat EVERYBODY's spinach .. loved it in grade school and love it now. Could never get enough and it was a veggie my mother would never let us have at home. So school lunch! Whoopie. The lunch ladies wouldn't let you out the door unless the plate was clean ... I had mounds of spinach and was very healthy.

I remember my last child getting a very cold hard baloney sandwich, or peanut butter and jam, a piece of fruit and milk, called it lunch and it was all trucked in to the school. YUCK!

Susanne said...

I don't remember my school lunches well. I remember the cafeteria and the lady but not the lunches which is probably saying something. I do remember Fridays was fish and chip day, and I remember I ate a lot of cheezies, fries and gravy and sesame snaps. The beginning of my food issues. Ugh.

Cyndy said...

My kids eat school lunches...hee hee...but school is at home so there aren't any stories like your daughters.

I always liked school lunches. Except for spaghetti days. Nothing wrong with the spaghetti, it wasn't soup. But they always served it with oranges. Have you ever smelled spaghetti and oranges together? And one fall(while it was still hot outside) they served it on the same day they were re-tarring the roof of part of the school building. Let me tell you that is a smell I will never forget!

Gwendolyn said...

Mine don't have horror stories yet. Grace takes her lunch almost every day because she is the pickiest person that I have ever met and survives on pb&j and air. Occasionally she eats pop tarts. Alex eats at school almost every day, because there are four choices and there is almost always some form of chicken nuggets/chicken strips/chicken sandwich as one choice, so he is good to go. On Fridays they always have pizza, and I force Grace to eat at school because I declare Fridays my "I'm taking a day off from packing lunches" day, and who doesn't like pizza? She insists that she will require therapy someday.

Mel said...

Yes school lunch not what it used to be at all...

Edwina at The Picket Fence said...

My favorite cafeteria food was
Flying Saucers. They consisted of a piece of bologna topped with mashed potatoes and melted cheese. And my favorite dessert in the cafeteria were the homemade cinnamin rolls, they were awesome. Overall my memories of the cafeteria were pretty good

Tammy said...

I went to private schools from 6-12 grade and we took our lunch.

However, in college we had special names for the food served. My favorite.....turkey tetra-chloride.

Sara@Interpret Sass said...

I myst admit I was depressed after the tangent. Butter is in kindergarten and will begin "lunch." Next year. I am so conflicted about keeping the kiddos in public schools, now that I now there is water in my kids' meals...I mean COME ON, I on my dinner making strike can do better then spagetti soup!!!
But then I read your conversations and it made me smile, but I still am conflicted. Will it be "cool" for her to bring lunch, or is it the "in thing" to get lunch and not eat it. *sigh* this parenting stuff is H.A.R.D.

12-arrows said...

Oh MY GOSH this has me totally smiling. I loved school lunches back in the "olden" days. But my kids loathe them now. My daughter says the hotdogs are like rubber and that they bounce, I am sure she must have tried them to know for sure. My kids say the hamburgers are like veggie burgers. ETC. . . .and I have to say that the Thanksgiving dinners are pretty lame, I have eaten them. Two slices of pre-chewed pre-cooked turkey, a glob of brown goo which is supposed to be sweet potatoes and store bought cookies. It is rather shameful! I give my kids a choice each day whether they want to buy or carry and they usually check the menu first. Its usually half and half. Thanks for making me laugh!

Ballerina Girl said...

I remember my lunch ladies and feel the same way you said how the ones today are just not interested.
Being in Brazil has been interesting with their lunches! When we lived in Venezuela, I always packed their lunches, but in Brazil they eat the hot lunch. I too always ask and giggle because they ALWAYS, EVERY DAY have rice and beans....and then some sort of accompaniment; either a chicken or beef in a sauce. and just a sauce, no name to them, hahaha!
Great post!
BG

Debbie said...

My kids are little chips off the old block here and they have made fast friends with the lunch ladies. My daughter is so sad to be graduating and not see Ms. Teresa again.
And the spaghetti in water. I can remember being in a restaurant once and demanding they take my plate back and drain the water off of the spaghetti. Now that is just lazy cooking.

Rachel said...

I think by the time I was in middle school (91-94) lunches had already gone downhill. I never ate lunch in the cafeteria in high school. I always took my lunch or we skipped school and went and ate somewhere (hey, I was on the yearbook staff and we were "selling ads" if anyone asked). :)

ann said...

I loved this post! That's the first thing I ask my boys when they get home from school, too! What did you have for lunch today?

School lunch here has really changed for the better. They are really eliminating fried foods. No more tator tots and batter dipt cod.

Ah, in my childhood it was more fun to pack a lunch. Except I remember I loved scooter pies. I always ate school lunch but asked mom for a lunchbox so I could take cold lunch once in awhile. She surprised me and brought one home for me. It was a Bionic Woman metal lunch box. I hated it. I wanted a cool plastic one with Strawberry Shortcake or something like that on it. I mean, what little kid watched Bionic Woman anyway? So, I took a hammer to it, literally. Put a big old dent in that thing. And mom still made me take it to school and use it. She didn't get me a plastic one. And now as a grown up I say good for her.

Great post, Linda!

Laurie Ann said...

I am rolling! Kristyn used to come home from school, happy to report that they had served Shepherd's Pie for the third time that week. I used to work for a state agency that monitored "child nutrition" for the schools. So much has changed since back in our day. Ketchup counts as a veggie now, IIRC.

Debbie said...

Well, you asked and yes i did have memories of school lunches.

http://thefridayfriends.blogspot.com/2008/06/life-and-school-lunches.html


I love your blog. You make me laugh. It's a good thing--finding joy in the small things

JyLnC said...

Spaghetti in water is a new dish for this public school mom. My son, who is grown, attended public schools but taking one's lunch was the standard practice. I think the provided lunch was a bag lunch, too.

The status symbol through 4th grade was what type of lunch box one carried. When 5th grade arrived lunch boxes were for babies and a brown paper sack was IT through high school.

I loved school lunches but I lived too close to participate. For a few years we lived right across the street from school. However, one of the lunch ladies went to our church and she got an ok for me to buy lunch on special days. She let me know when there was chili or runzas on the menu. I would get special permission to buy lunch on those days. Loved the chili and runzas.

JyLnC said...

Spaghetti in water is a new dish for this public school mom. My son, who is grown, attended public schools but taking one's lunch was the standard practice. I think the provided lunch was a bag lunch, too.

The status symbol through 4th grade was what type of lunch box one carried. When 5th grade arrived lunch boxes were for babies and a brown paper sack was IT through high school.

I loved school lunches but I lived too close to participate. For a few years we lived right across the street from school. However, one of the lunch ladies went to our church and she got an ok for me to buy lunch on special days. She let me know when there was chili or runzas on the menu. I would get special permission to buy lunch on those days. Loved the chili and runzas.

Greg C said...

Wow look at the number of comments. I am so jealous. Maybe I need to do something special like you did. I see you have a new photo at the top of your blog. I like it.

PJ said...

WHERE HAVE I BEEN? I AM SO BEHIND ON MY READING. I'M GAGGING ON MY LAUGHTER AND IT'S NOT PRETTY. I REALLY MUST RATION OUT THIS HILARITY...IT'S TOO MUCH IN ONE PIECE. SPAGHETTI SOUP?

OUR LUNCH LADIES STILL TRY FOR THE PERSONAL TOUCH WITH GREETINGS AND SUCH. BUT THE FOOD ARRIVES COOKED, BUT IT'S NOT BURIED IN WATER. I EVEN EAT IT ONCE IN AWHILE, WHEN I FORGET TO TAKE SOMETHING AND AM TO LAZY/BUSY TO RUN OUT FOR FAST FOOD. THE PIZZA HAS SHOE LEATHER FOR CRUST SO I NEVER GET THAT. THE CHEESE STICKS ARE FILLED WITH PLASTIC GOO. I NEVER GET THOSE. THE YOGURT IS GOOD; THE SALAD IS SHREDDED LETTUCE, BUT IT'S REASONABLY FRESH...IT'S ONLY A LITTLE WILTY, NOT TURNING BROWN. THE BAGEL IS A BIT CHEWY, BUT THE CREAM CHEESE IS DECENT -- A LITTLE NAME BRAND PACKAGE EVEN. THE MAC AND CHEESE IS GOOD IF IT HASN'T MELTED INTO ONE SOLID BLOCK YET. I HAD A CHEESE BURGER THIS WEEK. PROBABLY ZOE WOULD HAVE TURNED HER NOSE UP AT IT, BUT THE MEAT TASTED SORT OF LIKE MEAT AND IT WASN'T SOUR OR ANYTHING. OUR SCHOOL LUNCHES ARE OKAY! I MEAN, HAVE YOUR EVER READ "THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK?" THEY'RE NOT THAT BAD...BUT SOMETIMES THE KIDS DO FIGHT OVER THE FOOD LIKE THAT.

SORRY. YOU HIT MY FUNNY BONE. I'M TELLING YOU...I CAN'T HANDLE ALL THESE BLOGS AT ONE TIME.

marina said...

STOPPING BY TO WISH YOU A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR.LOV MARINA

Darlene R. said...

One of my lunch memories includes having to dig through the lunch trash for my retainer that I had wrapped in a napkin. While I wasn't looking, the lunch lady cleaned off the table, throwing all the mess...and my retainer...in the nasty trash.

We,my sister and I, found it...Mom boiled it...and I stuck that nasty thing back in my mouth!

Ick and Ick!!

A Stone Gatherer said...

Yuck! Ewwww! I just love Public school lunches! My son survives on Pizza!

Linda said...

Doesn't sound like the lunches I remember at all! Poor things. I remember seeing my mom preparing liver in the kitchen one evening. I had never seen anything so disgusting (I think I was all of 7 years old). The next day I went to lunch at school and they were serving chocolate pudding and I was convinced it was raw liver! I wouldn't eat it until my friends proved that it was dessert. I had lived a very sheltered pudding life up till that day. Now I am much wiser in all things with sugar, and would NEVER make a serious error such as missing dessert!

Jules from "The Roost" said...

I am with you I loved lunch room food. Especially the rolls! The "junk" they had rather eat amazes me!

sheila said...

Oh my gosh, hysterical post! lol! My kids never tell me about their lunches so I guess I won't ask, ha ha. I remember when I was a kid, and milk was 5 cents for white and 7 for chocolate. There was a HUGE uproar when chocolate went to a dime. ha hah a!

I was weird, cuz I liked those hamburgers in a bag and those aweful pizzas.

You're funny. That was a good post.