School Lunches Are Gross But I Make My Kids Eat Them Anyway


School lunchUgh. School lunches. The drumbeat to make them healthier for our kids is growing increasingly louder. For example, Sarah Wu is a Chicago public school teacher who wrote a blog under the pseudonym Ms. Q. and recorded all the repulsive cafeteria meals she consumed, alongside her students, for a year. She's just written a book about it called Fed Up With Lunch.

And while I completely support the effort (who among us will stand up and fight for less healthy food for our kids?), what I feel when I read stories about horrifying processed chicken nuggets and nutritionally void tater tots our kids are served each day is, yes, disgust, but less righteous indignation than guilt.

Lots and lots of guilt: Because my kids eat school lunches every single day. And truth be told, I kind of don't even want to know what's on those styrofoam plates.

In my leafy Brooklyn neighborhood, where writers and artists have displaced generations of cops and firemen, most mothers send their kids to school with hand-packed lunches consisting of last night's shrimp risotto and sauteed Swiss chard, even as their kids beg to eat school lunch on pizza day.

Meanwhile, my kids (who go to school in a more economically challenged neighborhood) are scarfing down rubbery hot dogs in soggy buns (or whatever the latex-gloved ladies are serving up that day) and leaving the overcooked mixed vegetables (the beans indiscernible from the carrots) untouched on their plates.

I do it because it's convenient. I do it because it's free. (Yes, if your kids attend a school with a low average family income, there is such thing as a free lunch; it just might be all but inedible.) I do it because I don't know how to make shrimp risotto or to saute Swiss chard and there are only so many days a kid wants to eat a peanut butter sandwich.

I also do it partly because I want my kids to be one of the crowd: At their extremely diverse elementary school, the kids are united in their disdain of the rubbery hot dogs they consume together; I'm guessing it's the Swiss chard kids who feel left out.

But mostly, I do it because I'm lazy. Hand my kid a free lunch, and I'll take a pass on loading up his lunch box. It's one less thing on my to-do list. Even if it does mean my kids are eating mystery meats at midday. (Or worse, passing them up and going hungry.)

Does that make me a rotten mother? Do you let your kids eat school lunches? And if so, do you do it guiltily or with pride?


Image via Ben+Sam/Flickr

back to school, elementary school, food, kid health, kids nutrition, school lunch


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piggy... piggy11721

Shelly...while You are entitled to your kids "dont like" veggies. Am I a bad mom for msking them eat those?

piggy... piggy11721

If you were a bad mom for letting them eat the school lunch....there is ALOT of bad moms out there.

nonmember avatar Shelly

Piggy - You are making your child eat something GOOD for them, because you see the value in those foods. She is making her child eat something BAD for them, because she is lazy. There is a huge difference between those situations. And yes, I do think pumping your kids full of unhealthy crap when you can afford otherwise, because you don't want to a symptom of a bigger problem in that persons parenting. Lazy parenting, is unacceptable. Why even have kids, if the person doesn't even want to bother doing what is right? On top of that, I think it's 100% WRONG, to use a system you don't need. She can afford to pay for food.

dixie... dixiegurl223626

I let my son pick whether he wants to eat lunch based on the menu. I dont think school lunches are aweful. I loved school lunch when I was a child.

mbnic... mbnich0269

I wouldn't make my kids eat anything I wouldn't eat. You are right. That is lazy.


*Dont they pay you here at The Stir for these mind blowing posts?

malex... malexander2009

Sometimes the school lunches were pretty good.

malex... malexander2009

When it was something that I didn't like my mom would at least send me with a lunchable

malex... malexander2009

Really I would start talking to the school board, if that didn't work take it to the state, and all they way up

malex... malexander2009

I didn't always mind the school breakfasts either

malex... malexander2009

But if you force the kids to eat it that is alittle far fetched be serious

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