Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Sad State of School Lunch -- Now We're in The Thick of It...

groovy lunchbox by Goodbyn

Yesterday my oldest started public Kindergarten, and it was a rousing success. Despite our excitement about every aspect of her new school, we're officially in the thick of the school lunch juggernaut.

Prior to this year, Audrey attended a private pre-school where hot lunch was served every day. Packing a lunch wasn't really an option, and while there were a few items on the menu I wasn't so jazzed about (I'm never happy about hot dog day), overall the menus were nutritious, and the cook made as many things as possible from scratch. But we're entering new territory here, so I had planned to pack Audrey's lunch most days to ensure she's eating the healthiest meal possible.

Then I read this over on the stellar School Lunch Talk...

"Many parents pack lunch for their children because they don’t consider chicken nuggets a healthy meal. I don’t either. But before you resolve to pack lunch for your child every day this year, think about this: one of the best ways to get better food into public school cafeterias is to put away the lunch box and become a loyal lunchroom customer...

Yes, it’s easy enough to pack a lunch for your child if you don’t approve of what’s offered at school. But every packed lunch means less revenue for school lunch programs, and less revenue means less healthy food for the students who do eat lunch in the cafeteria. What’s more, the parents who pack lunch for their children out of health concerns are precisely the parents who care about good food. Without their voices, there is nobody to speak up for school lunch change.

School cafeterias operate by giving customers what they want. Right now, we’re allowing kids to be those customers. If parents can take back that buying power, we’ll take one huge step to improving school food in America."

full story

So despite the fact that I'm not loving the lunch offerings at Audrey's school (think pizza, pizza sticks, corn dogs, hamburgers, etc... although they do serve nice sides -- steamed broccoli, apple slices, corn), we're going to buy lunch in the cafeteria at least three days a week, and in the meantime I'm going to try my hand at organizing something with the parents to see what we can do to improve things.

We'll see how it goes...


  1. Really interesting thoughts in your post and hers...keep me posted, we're one year behind you in school lunch ville! (Only half-day K here.)

  2. we are two years away from kindergarten and public school but this a topic that i am so passionate about as many parents are. i hope you find a good solution!

  3. Really interesting thoughts. Although it has been twenty years since I left kindergarten, I know for a fact that the school lunches are no different now than when I was in public school. I hope that your efforts and the concerned efforts of the local food movement etc. can make a difference by the time I send kids to school.

  4. very interesting article. and it definitely makes sense. good luck to you!

  5. Never thought about it this way - definitely 'food for thought'!

    As you know, there must be parent involvement to make a change. Good luck.

  6. Keep us posted on how it goes with organizing the parents & advocating for change. My daughter is getting ready to start school & I'm not too thrilled about school lunches, so if you find something that works I'd love to hear ti.

  7. I really wish more parents had the time and money to pack healthy lunches for their children. I think the school lunch program in North America and the UK need some serious changes. It's a very flawed structure. Good luck.