lunch lady land

Ahhh, school lunch.

T is super excited to be a "lunch kid". It's his favorite part of school. Last year I spent quite a bit of time eating lunch with him at school, and now he gets to do it all by himself. He thinks this is a wonderful thing.

He told his teacher on day 2 that he had to be a sack lunch kid because his mom says that school lunch is nasty. It's true, I do. I have gone on more than once about school lunches, and their particular level of evil. My hell will be an eternity of hot lunch.

Anyway, I had a point. Edwonk has a post about school breakfast. He points out a power breakfast pack that may be hitting a school near you.

"Each boxed meal includes a cereal bowl pack, an
additional bread/grain snack serving, and a serving of 100% fruit juice.
Served with milk, it provides a complete, nutritious breakfast that meets the
government requirements for key nutrients for children. Offered in seven
different varieties, one menu, for example, includes General Mills Honey Nut
Cheerios(R), animal crackers, and Mott's(R) Apple Juice.

Am I a snob? I would never give my kids animal crackers or apple juice for breakfast. Good morning, sugar on sugar! I think the problem is the gov't standards for key nutrition that have been met by this (snack) breakfast.

Here's the kicker for me...

"We want to increase our school breakfast participation and BreakfastBreaks is going to be the way to do it," says Demetrious Giovas, foodservicedirector for Gadsden Independent School District, Anthony, New Mexico.

(Here's the whole article.)

Shouldn't it be, We want to encourage all parents who are capable to serve their children a nutritious breakfast at home, so their kids can have a great start to the day? I can't for the life of me see why they'd be pushing for more students eating breakfast at school. Except, of course, for financial reasons.

I have noticed this quite a bit lately. My school sent home a note saying 'please sign up for free lunch. Even if you don't need it, the school gets money for having you qualify.' I tried hard to not be offended by this. Since when do we not encourage parents to prepare healthy meals for their children? It is our responsibility as parents to feed our kids. And instead we send them to school to eat crap. If we all kicked and screamed a bit, we could change school lunch. We could get healthy food is schools easily. The options are out there. But no. We roll over and let them serve empty calories and high fructose corn syrup.

Spunkyhomeschooler had this to say. "Why don't they just take the children full time and let the parents check them out like a library book when they want to spend time with them? It seems to be the next logical step don't you think?" I gotta say, I agree with her on this one.

Granted, many schools offer pre-school day care such as Kaleidoscope Corner, and so the kiddos would have to be served school breakfast. And some parents just suck so amazingly badly (like mine did) that they will never feed their kids breakfast at home. And honestly, some just plain can't afford it. It's sad, but true (again, like mine). And for that, this pack isn't such a bad idea. It's bright and colorful, comes with a prize, and probably does encourage kids to eat. Now could we fix what's IN IT?

Let me add that my siblings and I ate school breakfast and lunch, every day, for 12 years of schooling. My mother made it off the couch on a semi-monthly basis, so we had little choice. So after waking ourselves up, getting our own bags packed and getting ourselves off to school on time, we sat down to wonder-breakfast in the cafeteria which usually consisted of pac-man cereal and chocolate milk. At least we had the sense to go eat something.

We had one mother in the neighborhood (of low income single mothers with an astonishingly high crime rate) who made breakfast every day for her children. Her name was Marion, and she went to church with us. One day as we were off the school, she called us in and offered us some pancakes. We had never had a cooked breakfast before school before, so of course we stayed. The next day we were back for eggs and bacon, and we brought a friend or two with us. Within a month's time, she had so many kids showing up that she had to cut it down to once a week. But that one day every week, most of the kids in the neighborhood showed up at her back door for breakfast. We got up early to make sure we didn't miss out. It remains one of my happiest childhood memories, and I still have dreams about it. I hope heaven exists so she can go to it.

I guarantee that none of those kids parents ever thanked her or reimbursed her. But one day a week, we knew someone gave a shit about us. We were grateful, and she knew it.

Breakfast is a big deal. Sitting down for a meal with an adult is a big deal to a kid. It's the easiest way to say "you're special". By feeding them properly, we ensure health, and good habits as adults. School teaches them enough. I think food education really should stay at home.