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One lunch: Three ways

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I read an article this morning about a preschooler in North Carolina whose lunch was taken and the child was given a hot lunch in its place because the lunch supervisor didn’t feel her sandwich was healthy according to USDA guidelines. The child ate 3 nuggets and the mother was charged $1.25.

This wouldn’t happen where my children attend school but it still prompted me to check the menu, which I shamefully admit I had not done in a long time.

My middle and high schooler didn’t have terrible options but there was not nearly enough food for a typical teenager.

Even though the campus contains both schools and the board office, the elementary school has a different menu. I checked that one and was appalled. No wonder my child that eats almost nothing is starving every afternoon.

First on the list: a chicken sandwich. I’m certain that this sandwich is a fried, breaded patty of chicken paste and a white bread bun.

Then we have tater tots. That one needs no explanation.

Lastly, there’s applesauce. Applesauce that undoubtedly comes sweetened with some sort of sugar, in a can, and any vitamins in it are there because the manufacturer put them back in.

If it weren’t for the milk, she would have had no nutrients whatsoever. I don’t really blame the schools. They aren’t the only school serving this junk in the US by far. I blame the USDA in part because they won’t subsidize if food doesn’t meet their calorie criteria, and most fresh, healthy food does not. I also blame myself. I let this go on much too long when I knew the condition of school lunches in this country.

Sadly, some kids don’t have any other choice, because their families just can’t afford food that isn’t on the school lunch menu and provided for free. I have been there and I understand. I remember a time when I was sending my two oldest with popped popcorn, old fruit snacks, and peanut butter sandwiches on food pantry bread because we didn’t have the forms in for free lunch… I know how hard it can be and it saddens me that the poor are forced to eat garbage because they can’t buy better. It’s food, not cable tv or a new car.

But enough on that. Fortunately, we have enough that even without going to the store, I was able to make basic bento lunches for my kids. I’m not going to go out of my way to make panda sandwiches and rice ball paws, but I can be colorful and creative.

So that brings us to the photo above. Each container was purchased cheaply and already in my cabinet. Expensive bento boxes are cute but not needed. The divided plates were a dollar in the “new” section at Goodwill. I intended them for hubby’s leftovers and never used them. The third is a white container with a blue lid and the lid has a clear plastic whale on it. I don’t remember where I got it but I have had it forever.

Each lunch has one tortilla with nutella and orange marmalade, a hard-boiled egg, 4 heart-shaped jelly beans, 4 slices of cheddar, 5 cucumber slices, 10 black olives, and ranch dressing.

My kids are old enough to choose if they want to eat the school lunch but I will no longer leave them without a choice. I wouldn’t feed them that garbage at home. They shouldn’t have to eat it at school.

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Categories: Food
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