Smarter Than Pancakes

Friday, May 9, 2008

School Lunch

Filed under: Opinions — shaye3 @ 7:51 pm

Sorry I’ve been incommunicado for the past couple of days. I went with my son’s second grade class on a field trip to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum on Thursday. While I was at the school when we got back, one of the lunch ladies asked me if I could volunteer to help serve lunch today (Friday).

I meant to take pictures of the stuff I made for our sack lunches on Thursday, but I got busy and forgot. I’m going to recreate them sometime over the weekend and post pics and recipes for you, but for now I can just tell you that we had cherry vanilla ricotta muffins and homemade strawberry-banana yogurt. (We had a few other things in our lunches, but those are the major recipes I want to share with you in the immediate future.) 😉

Gratuitous Field Trip Shot:
Gratuitous Field Trip Shot

I thought I would also describe in detail the lunch I helped prepare for the students of my son’s school today. (And yes, my son took his lunch as usual.)

Today’s lunch was grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, crackers, dill pickle spears, and fruit cocktail.

I looked at each package, and the children didn’t get a single thing in their lunches that didn’t contain high fructose corn syrup–including the milk. They can pick between chocolate, vanilla, strawberry or plain milk. For each case of plain white milk they sell, they sell six cases of the other flavors. NONE of the children ever choose plain milk.

I’ve volunteered at my son’s school fairly frequently, and it just so happens that I’ve made this lunch before–so I can describe to you exactly what it entails. (And you can see exactly why Simon brings his lunch from home.)

First–Open the industrial sized cans of fruit cocktail. Drain them, put them in a hotel pan, cover with plastic wrap, and place in either the fridge. (I put them in the freezer because I like fruit cold and the fruit doesn’t get cold if you put it in the fridge for two or three hours.)

Then–You open the jars of pickle spears, drain them, put them in a hotel pan, cover with plastic wrap, and put in the fridge. (Freezer again.)

Next–You open the industrial sized cans of Campbell’s Tomato Soup. Pour them with the appropriate amount of water into hotel pans, cover with foil, and put it into the oven until the internal temperature reaches 165.

Finally–You get out the industrial sized loaves of Wonder bread, a huge tub of margarine, and some huge packages of pre-sliced American cheese. Take a rubber spatula and slap some margarine on one side of the bread, throw two slices of cheese in the middle, and then slap on another slice of margarined bread. Stack these on a plastic tray, and cover them with plastic wrap until time to grill.

A short time before serving, you pull out two large electric griddles and start grilling them sixteen at a time. As they’re finished, you take a knife (I use a pizza cutter), cut them in half, and put them four deep in a hotel pan that you pop in to a warming oven until it’s time for them to be used.

At serving time, you put the soup in disposable styrofoam bowls, but everything else with the soup on disposable styrofoam trays, and serve with a disposable plastic spoon. (Today was special, usually they get a disposable plastic spork.)

I wish I could say that this lunch is worse than normal, but all of the lunches that I’ve helped with have involved canned veggies, canned fruit, and processed main dishes that are reheated in an oven–and all served with so much disposable wear that they fill an entire dumpster in less than a week.

I never used to be this crunchy granola, but seeing this really helps strengthen my resolve to make Simon’s lunches, pack them in reusable containers, and send reusable cutlery. I’d say I even send a cloth napkin, but to be honest with you, Simon never actually uses his napkin anyway. I send the same one (with directions to use it) for at least three or four days in a row. If he starts using them on a regular basis, I might start sending reusable napkins, too.

(I promise to take pictures and post the yogurt and muffin recipes very soon!)



  1. […] they’re finished, you take a knife (I use a pizza cutter), cut them in half, and put them four deep in a hotel pan that you pop in to a warming oven until it’s time for them to be used. (The bottom ones wind up soggy.) … […]

    Pingback by Fruit Cutters and the rest of the world » Blog Archive » Fast Friday links — Friday, May 9, 2008 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

  2. Hi there –
    All I can say is ‘wow’ to the lunch you had to help prepare. My daughter’s school usually has a hot lunch program that is offered every other week or once a month…last year no one wanted to coordinate it, so the kids were offered pizza a couple times throughout the year. Other than that all kids are expected to come to school with a sack lunch from home (or wherever their parents get it from). This year I’m considering coordinating a hot lunch program and offering some once every two weeks but the idea of it terrifies me as I’m big into Clean Eating and am not sure how to go about introducing this type of food into the school. Our school system is very much into promoting healthy food choices for the kids…but again, how do I go about producing some of these things in mass quantities and hope to God everyone enjoys it! Maybe I just talked myself out of the venture – although it would be such a great feeling at the end of it all…I hope!

    Comment by Leslie — Tuesday, August 25, 2009 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: