by Jodi Meltzer
Antibiotics, GMOs, and junk food ... oh my! There are just too many questionable ingredients lurking on the typical cafeteria tray for my taste. Even though it would save me precious time, I just can't let my kids eat school cafeteria lunches.
All right, I am biased, perhaps traumatized is the better word, from my own memories of "Lunch Lady Land" (still one of my favorite songs by Adam Sandler). The hot dogs were so bouncy I swear they inspired the crumping trend. The mac and cheese didn’t move ... even when pierced with a fork (repeatedly). The soggy tater tots were considered vegetables. The only green I saw was the money in the cash register. It was unappetizing, to say the least.
While I realize things have changed in the wake of Michelle Obama’s "Let’s Move" campaign to fight childhood obesity -- which shaved some calories off school lunch meals, emphasized whole grains over white flour, and added a little more color to the plate -- I still know many kids have a king-sized bag of chips for lunch and pocket the rest of their parents’ money. Firsthand knowledge ... from my kid. She says sometimes her friends break it up and have chips and a cookie for lunch. Even better.
When I pack lunches, I know what’s in there, and that gives me peace of mind. I am pretty sure my kids don’t trade their food with friends, dump it in the trash, or secretly resent me for being a ‘mean mom’ (not for my stance against school lunches, anyway). They subscribe to the ‘food is love’ mentality because I have brainwashed influenced them.
Berries should be organic because they soak up pesticides like moisturizer. Hot dogs should just disappear. (What’s in them, really?) Veggies should be a staple, not a guideline. I take the time to pack nutrient-rich choices that fuel their minds and bodies ... with some (preservative- and high fructose corn syrup-free) treats to keep it kid-friendly. And they eat it up.
Do you let your kid eat cafeteria lunches?