So, it’s back-to-school week again and that means…..making lunches. It has got to be my least favourite thing about the school year’being told there is a project due on Monday when it’s Sunday night is a close second. Every night I make my sons’ lunches and then the next day I take their lunch bags out of their knapsacks and their sandwich (or whatever their main source of protein was for that day) is still sitting there. Some times I’ll get lucky and there is a bite out of it. Then they spend from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m grazing in the kitchen because they are ravenous. Once I put their dinner on the table, they are already stuffed from grazing (even though I go into offensive lineman mode to try and keep them away from the cupboards) and they barely eat. It’s a vicious cycle.
It’s not like I don’t ask them what they want for lunch, I do. They tell me and I make it. I’ve tried to mix it up and am always trying new things but what’s a hit once may not be again. On Tuesday night I asked my kids if they would eat cooked chicken drumsticks if they were cold. It was a resounding yes! Hurray! I cooked them while I made our dinner at the same time (silently congratulating myself for my ability to multitask and think ahead!) and put them in their lunches cold…the next day they came back untouched. Arrrrgh!! They said it was because they had gross jelly on them (I’m thinking it’s the fat congealed on the drumstick from cooking it and then putting them in the fridge right away, I’ll work on that). But even when I buy my kids lunches from a company that caters to the schools they often are sent home by teachers to show me that they too have gone uneaten.
Now that my oldest son has hit high school (yikes!) I was hopeful he would get better options at the school cafeteria. So far he’s been told by other students to avoid it at all costs because the food is horrible. Great!
It would be such a boon to kids, parents and schools if the cafeterias could make appetizing meals that are also healthy. I’d pay for that because it would be so worth it. Best Health’s own Paul Finkelstein (chef and teacher at Northwestern Secondary School in Stratford, Ont) has spearheaded just this kind of outfit called the Screaming Avocado Cafe at his school and it’s a huge hit! Other school boards have followed suit, but not enough. What I wouldn’t give for this kind of option in our town north of Toronto. For now, I’m reading an advance copy of the book "Fed Up With Lunch: How one anonymous teacher revealed the truth about school lunches’and how we can change them!" (Chronicle Books, October 2011). It’s written by an American teacher who stumbled upon the lunches in her school cafeteria when she forgot to bring her lunch to work one day. She decided to start blogging under the name Mrs. Q as she ate cafeteria food (snapping pics of each meal to include as well) every day for a year. Her blog (Fed Up With Lunch) became the go-to read for parents, teachers, nutritionists and lunch ladies in the U.S. and a place to share their opinions on the sad state of children’s food. It began a huge discussion and sharing of ideas on how to change it. At the back of the book the author provides a guide to how readers can get involved in their own community. It’s a book worth checking out when it is available in October, if you are fed up with your kids lunch situation too.