Monday, August 30, 2010

What’s in your lunch?

As a consumer, what do you expect to receive in return for your payment?  If you pay for medication do you expect full strength or is ok if the medication is watered down with actual water?  Speaking of water, do you really think that bottle is full of natural spring water or is it tap water? 

Let’s say you pay the school to feed your child.  Stop laughing.  Heath and I are products of a public education and we both ate school lunch.  Or hot lunch as they used to call it because in the 80’s it was actually hot food like spaghetti or roast beef sandwiches au jus. 

Now school lunch is nothing more than expensive snacks.  I’m not kidding.  Would you pay $3 for mozzarella sticks/marinara sauce, a piece of fruit, and a milk carton?  How about $3.25 any school day but Wednesday when apparently the food is laced with gold because the cost shoots up to $3.75?

I’m not making this up.  This is what Gavin’s school lunch costs.  The last two years we paid $3 a day or $30 every two weeks, with a week being a regular 5 day school week.  This year I decided that I could save myself $60 a month by sending a lunch from home.  It was worth trying it out anyway.  Then I got the email from the school stating the increase in lunch costs this year. 

I just have to ask, where is that money going to?  The office party pool?  How much could each lunch actually cost?  I could take him to In & Out Burgers near his school for about the same price!

I don’t think his school even has a cafeteria.  I could be wrong but I think they just set up tables in the murpose purpose room.  Oh how I miss the days when Gavin called it that!  Other than a few food choices it’s not like anything needs to be kept hot in an oven or cold in a refrigerator. 

Friends of mine with multiple children in the school system say they don’t buy school lunch because it’s too expensive.  I’m starting to agree.  The thought of paying close to $8 a day for Gavin and Parker next year is too rich for my ghetto latchkey kid blood. 

A friend of mine in Utah recently talked about whether or not she should buy school lunch for her daughter as well as her son.  The issue was over the fact that her daughter is Type 1 diabetic and nothing to do with price.  I have it on good authority that lunches in Washington are a little more than a dollar for teachers.  Teachers always pay a few cents more for lunch than students.  Because their staggering salary easily accommodates the cost of an extra scoop of this or that. 

So now I’m sending Gavin to school with an ice pack, designed to keep bottled breast milk cool, in his lunch bag hoping he doesn’t die of salmonella poisoning from warm mayo and lunch meat.  He hates peanut butter sandwiches but has agreed to eat them occasionally. 

I talked to his teacher about sending peanut butter because last year a friend of mine was chewed out for sending a peanut butter sandwich with one of her kids to another school.  I realize some kids have severe nut allergies but I don’t know the rules about sending my non allergic child to school with a sandwich I worry less about making him sick than meat and cheese.  She said the kids with allergies sit at designated tables.  If they have indoor lunch on those days when it is pouring rain (the kids eat outside every day) then the kids with severe enough allergies sit outside in the hall.  So peanut butter is ok. 

But then what about carrots?  Do baby carrots need to stay refrigerated?  You know a stupid bag of chips is starting to sound really tempting right now.  What do granola parents send to school with their kids?  No, I’m actually asking.  Leave me a comment like “Hey Piquant Storyteller!  You’re not a nice person (I will delete your comment if you use naughty words) for calling me granola!  But this is what I send to school with my kid and they are healthy as can be so go kiss a cow!”

Do you remember the Sally Struthers commercials that told you how affordable it was to keep a third world child fed and in good health?  I wonder if those prices have increased too and by how much in the last 20 some odd years. 

8 thoughts:

Chantalle Bishop said...

O my goodness, the kids with allergies have to sit at separate tables!?!? Poor Zach. I hope his allergy is at least not as severe by the time he goes to school.
I went to Fairlands growing up and took a lunch with me everyday. Except Wednesday, pizza day!! In the middle and high schools around here they don't have a cafeteria...well, it is a place that distributes food, but they don't cook any of it. You can get taco bell, fries, sandwiches, fruit, salads, chips, cookies, pizza and I think McDonalds. Who knows what else by now. But elementary is the only time they really do much with making food. But I had a turkey sandwich most of my school life either on bagel or bread and survived just fine :) Most of my friends brought their own lunch for all of school since you have to buy each portion of your lunch in the older schools so it could cost 1.25 for a burrito..but then you add 1.25 fries or chips, .50 apple, .75 soda...not to mention that in the morning there is a break time and they sell food then too, including things like muffins and more breakfast foods. One of my friends was from a really nice area and spent $6-8 on her lunch everyday. Blew us away!

The Piquant Storyteller said...

Yeah Chantalle, I thought it was a little weird when the teacher told me about the separate tables for kids with allergies. And then making them sit in the hall for indoor lunches! That just seems mean.

So is it just a California thing to nickel and dime people for everything? I can't believe that's how the middle and high schools sell food. But what do I know. I'm from Podunkville, UT.

Dawn said...

I would most definitely refuse to pay that price for cold food that I could just as easily send from home. I think the name of the game is convenience. I can pretty much guarantee none of your children will die from warm mayo packed in a lunch box with a cold pack. If they do I will be right after them since that is how I take my lunch. Oh, I heard the other day that go-gurts are meant to be frozen and they will thaw by lunch time. Some of us may be going to warm mayo heaven soon so be nice to us.

The Piquant Storyteller said...

Frozen go-gurt. Parker wanted to take one today for his snack. He ate some of it and decided to keep the rest in the bag. I spent the afternoon cleaning melted go-gurt out of his lunch bag and the bottom of his backpack. Needless to say, he will not be taking another one to school!

Sherron said...

Here in Utah (Jordan school district) the lunches are $1.75. I'm not terribly impressed with what is offered, but most days they are hot meals. When I lived in Georgia, the lunches were the same price, but the offerings were awesome! They had a salad bar, cold cereal, sandwiches and a hot food section.

Our school has a "NO PEANUT" table that kids with allergies have to sit at. Is it mean? No way! It is too difficult enforce a peanut free school, so this is the easiest way to ensure some safety at the school. Truly the safest way to handle things is to make the school be a peanut free school, as most kids who eat pb don't wash their hands and still have it on their faces, but that is a difficult allergy to deal with.

We send granola bars, turkey sandwiches (I don't fret over the mayo issue) baby carrots (don't need refrigeration) chips (make single servings from a big bag), chips and salsa, apples, bananas, plan ol' tortilla rolled up (they love it, can't figure it out!), cheese sticks, cashews, almonds. Sometimes we will use a juicebox that is partially frozen (take it out of the freezer the night before) as the cooler to keep the other foods cold. Sometimes we use a ice pack thingy.

The Piquant Storyteller said...

Sherron, I was never very impressed with the choices when Gavin was getting a school lunch. He liked the strawberry pancakes they served for lunch every Monday and of course the pizza. I think he was a little frustrated with school lunch because the lines were so slow that he didn't have enough time to eat.

Thanks for reassuring me that baby carrots don't need to be refrigerated. I sent some today but I also had the ice pack in for the sandwich. You had some really great ideas. I'll have to try them.

sugarpierdh said...

I know at the Family Fun website they have ideas for sending lunches with your kiddos. And, you could also try lunchables. They can be a bit pricey but you would still be saving money from the $3.75 gold laced lunches he would get at school.

The Piquant Storyteller said...

That's a good idea, Candi. I need to look for my Family Fun Magazine. The kids like to steal it! I'll have to check out the website for ideas too. We've done lunchables but only for field trips.

p.s. I need to call you because I may have another idea about your blog issue.