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School lunch, it was yummy, and I was full…

Posted by on Oct 15, 2012 in Blog Posts | 3 comments

In honor of school lunch week, today’s post is about M’s lunches. First off, I want to say “Thank you” to all the folks who work in school food services. It is a difficult, often thankless job, and so, so important. (A job, I hear that has been made more difficult with the new regulations’ servings and calorie limits, but I’ve talked about that recently in part 1 and part 2… read the comments where parents share what their children are experiencing.) I don’t know who is cutting up all the fruits and veggies at our schools, but THANK YOU!

So, lunch… The other day was the annual spring BBQ where family members are invited to eat with the kids.  I think we are very lucky and probably have some of the best, most appetizing, balanced, well-prepared meals around.

M’s tray with whole-wheat hamburger bun, burger, beans, cucumbers, grapes and green beans

my tray with hot dog and whole wheat bun, corn and edamame salad, broccoli and cauliflower, grapes, carrots


Here are the greens that are available every day. Fresh cut-up cauliflower, mixed greens, raw green beans, jicama sticks, carrot sticks, and I’m probably missing a few. Only downside is that all you can get is fat-free Ranch dressing with it…


Here are the fresh fruits. Grapes, pineapple, further down are carrot sticks and  a corn and edamame salad with cilantro. (It seemed watery and bland, likely fat-free dressing with too little seasoning—bad, bad sodium!!)

I was amazed at how orderly the kids were. I heard no complaints, no nagging or pushing, no “ew gross!” It was just there, very matter-of-fact. This is what kids see from Day 1 in Kindergarten, so it’s normal for them.

Alas, from what I hear, this kind of food and experience is not the norm. This is roughly what these kids have been used to at this school, so there hasn’t been any huge transition. My sense is that there are a few more fresh fruit and veggie options with the new regulations, but again, we are so, so lucky. Here is a link to the school lunch calendar if you’re curious. Oh, and there are always wraps or sandwiches for kids who don’t like the main entree.

This was not a typical day, with kids and families eating on the lawn outside the school, but from what M tells me, there are generally no adults patrolling the cafeteria encouraging or insisting that children eat their “healthy” choices, or policing the trash cans. That’s a plus too. No head-game, no pressure to invite resistance from the kids. It was just lunch…

What do you think? Does your kids’ cafeteria look like this? Could it? Inspired to print off the menu and give it to your school administrator? I still don’t like the ‘no seconds’ rule, and still have big issues with the new lunch plan overall, but I think there are places that are doing pretty well, and we can learn from them.

NOTE: I will be out of town the rest of this week, so might not get back to comments right away… I have one auto-post coming midweek about posting pictures of school lunch online…




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  1. Fat Grad

    OK, so I am looking at my kids school lunch menu for the month of October. They are being served the following: Chicken nuggets or a variation (tenders, popcorn chicken) seven times, hot dogs three times, pizza five times, quesadillas two times, burgers once, french toast once, pancakes once, mac and cheese once, chilli once, and fish sticks once. Two days there is no lunch because the school is closed. Of course there are side dishes every day to meet the government requirements, and I won’t waste your space logging all of those but it’s not inspiring. I think that it is sad that this is what the federal school lunch program offers my child. The lack of variety is stunning, and it is not surprising that children are not learning food competency when they are already believed to be incompetent of eating a variety of foods. I asked my son and he said there was no salad bar. They do offer a fruit choice and a veggie choice daily, but I have yet to go to the school and see what those choices look like. I’m jealous of your menu, Katja! Rotisserie chicken! Szechuan chicken! Veggie fajitas! What variety! At my baby’s school the only thing that they do get right is that they offer a sandwich of the day lunch OR a pb&j lunch OR a yogurt lunch for kids who don’t care for the hot lunch options, so I guess there’s variety in that way. But it’s still depressing that the menu choices are so limited and so processed.

    • katja

      I hear u! Why is it so different from one district to the next? Maybe if enough Parents pass on the menus it might put some pressure on other districts? I don’t know, just want to broaden the conversation… Thanks for telling us how it is at your school. Bummer.

  2. Nebet

    Oh, I WISH my school lunches had been anything like this! 🙁

    I was never hungry after eating a school lunch, at least not in my public high school, but those piles of fruit and vegetables would never have been available. (Our tiny servings of veggies were always horribly overcooked, oversalted, and overpeppered.)