When did school lunch become a punishment?

Kohen, my oldest, started Kindergarten this year. Our school district does half day mornings or afternoons depending where you live. We are afternoons so he eats lunch at home and hops on the bus. Once a month they have early dismissal day so all the afternooners go in the morning and everyone eats lunch together...no big deal right? I thought this was great he'd get a little practice in for first grade where I imagine my baby standing in a lunch line a little confused and lost. Then another mom asked whether I was going to pack his lunch or let him buy it... hmm...I assumed I would pack it? But then the other mom's all said the kids really get a kick out of buying lunch and eating with the big kids. Sure, no problem I'll just send his lunch money along. Oh, and on these days they have papa johns pizza, which is what everyone wants of course. Okay, but you need to send in the request form to pre-order. Alright, but only once a month right?

   So then I thought I'd better take a look at the menu online. Make sure this pizza thing was the best option. Whoa...the menu! Although I give the district credit it's a lot better than what I had growing up but still, it looks really processed, prepackaged, and veggies are an only optional?  Coincidentally I happened to watch Ann Cooper on TED talks last night she really stresses the importance of teaching kids to eat well, isn't teaching what school is all about? (great talk by the way...but not helping my cafeteria anxiety at all!)

  At home we eat natural, homemade, and non-processed foods. We are not perfect we haven't always been this way. Our kids still occasionally get a happy meal everyone in a while. Sometimes I buy a bag a chips or an Italian soda as a treat but on an everyday basis we try to teach our kids to eat healthy and make healthy choices. Shouldn't an educational institution do the same? I'm not against a pizza day once a month, we make homemade pizza at home once a month and we've ordered papa johns in the past...but on a daily basis I think the kids should be learning to eat better!

  So pack your own lunch! And we most likely will...but you know the kid's going to want to join his buddies in the lunch line every once in a while and so he should. Buying lunch should be teaching him to stand in line, wait his turn, place his order, and have his money counted and ready.

  His homemade lunch will consist of his homemade food he eats at home. Not prepackaged and individually wrapped. I know most kids will not be that way.

  I know I'm doing what's best for his health, I know I'm teaching him healthy ways...but why do I feel Like I'm punishing him?



  1. I love this post because it echos so much of what we do for our kids. My 5th grade daughter has never bought a school lunch. Ever. My oldest son likes to buy but he's in the Jr. High with more options. He would want to buy every day if he could, but we let him buy once a week. Not only is it expensive. It's heavily processed and basically reheated. My youngest son (2nd) likes to buy once a month, usually on pizza day, the kids favorite. I have questioned school lunch thinking parents could provide a better lunch than the processed food that the school provides until...I went with some kids on a field trip. The kids all had to have a packed lunch and I was appalled at what kids brought to eat. One kid had a full size recess bar, a large bag of chips (not snack size), a mountain dew, and a lunchable. Not the best lunch. He would have been better off with the lunch at school.

    1. I know! I can't believe what some people are willing to feed their kids! It's upsetting too that when you go to the store it's the processed, prepackaged foods being marketed and pushed! The better deals are usually these bad foods!

  2. Did you ever see that Jamie Oliver show where he was trying to make over school lunches? it was ridiculous the "rules" he had to follow, they counted french fries as their vegetable and wouldn't let him implement other options (real veggies) because they said the kids wouldn't choose them then their lunches wouldn't meet the district standards. Their processed pizza also counted as a veggie because of the "tomato" sauce and they served strawberry and chocolate milk (jamie got rid of that, but i just read this week that the district started the flavored milk again because kids wouldn't drink the plain milk). it's apalling what things are considered "nutritious"!