How are you observing National School Lunch Week?


photo by Ben+Sam via Flickr


Despite having a 2nd-grader in public school, I had no idea it was National School Lunch Week until I read the latest post on Marion Nestle’s blog, Food Politics.  We are lucky to be part of a public school with an active parent body that includes a chef who is working to change the way our kids eat.  That said, I was amazed to walk into the lunch room when my daughter started school to find that it hadn’t changed much since I stood in the lunch line 30 years ago.  So what is a parent to do?  Well, The Center for Ecoliteracy has published a 2nd edition of their guide, “Rethinking School Lunch” which offers a useful framework for how schools can provide healthier meals.  It’s easy to download and my goal is to read it through by the end of the week.

In the meantime, we have taken to packing lunches for our two children which can be a challenge.  Some days are dismal failures and I know immediately when I take the lunch box out of the backpack and it weighs the same as it did that morning.  Sometimes they eat every last morsel.  For the most part, we pack the same snacks and side dishes:  string cheese, squeeze yogurt, fruit, veggies (almost never eaten), raisins… but we try to change up the main course.  One daughter won’t touch sandwiches, the other we can’t trust with soups. But here is a general list of what goes in each week:

  • Cream cheese with cucumber sandwich (or jam)
  • Miso Soup (oddly, our oldest daughter would eat this every day) and rice
  • Matzo ball soup
  • Pasta Fagioli
  • Pasta with pesto or tomato sauce
  • Quesadillas (I don’t think these hold up very well)
  • Beans + Rice

Peanut butter is out, of course, as are other nuts that would be good snacks.  We are starting to get the timing down – heating up the food right before walking out the door with the vague hope that it will still be hot and appetizing by lunchtime.  But we are looking for new ideas – what foods do you send to school with your child?  Any triumphs? Humiliations?  Please share!


  1. #1 by erika on October 12, 2010 - 11:04 am

    Hummus with carrots
    Pasta (hot in a thermos or pasta salad)
    Turkey balogna sandwich
    beet salad (b/c my son is a food freak)
    We generally give a bag of nuts (to the one in public school) or a small Lara Bar
    Dried fruit (not just raisins)
    Leftover Chirping Chicken (cold and with a small container of ketchup)

    • #2 by domaphile on October 12, 2010 - 11:15 am

      Love that Ethan eats beet salad! Wish my kids would like hummus – they used to, but changed their minds. Thanks for the ideas! xo

  2. #3 by Ari Shwedel on October 12, 2010 - 3:00 pm

    Why is peanut butter out? Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches? Your kids are right to reject them. The only food that trumped pb&j at school was if a kid were lucky enough to show up with McDonalds, Burger King or Wendy’s after seeing the doctor or something.

    • #4 by domaphile on October 12, 2010 - 3:40 pm

      Everyone is allergic to peanut butter these days, Ari. Hence the school-lunch quandry! Remind me to ask Dorie what she packed for you back in the day. I bet you got corned beef on rye.

  3. #5 by Hilary on October 13, 2010 - 12:48 am

    S and M eat the same things everyday, they want no variation (to my dismay), although S’s is relatively healthy. Peanut butter and banana on whole wheat for S. if I don’t have banana for some reason, I add sliced apples to the sandwich. Cream cheese on whole wheat that I try to doctor up as best I can for M (a very picky and unvaried eater). Snacks are always apples, cheese stick and/or yogurt tube, some other fresh fruit, bag of peanuts, something of the crunchy/salty variety, granola bar and/or cookie for S (but not cavity-prone M). I pack extra stuff that they don’t get to at lunch, items that I think can keep until after school so I don’t nec have to bring other snacks at pickup (but often seem to anyway). I’m glad to hear you serve food meant to be served warm, I’m mistrustful of trying this for some reason (mostly because I don’t know how it would hold up taste/appetizing-wise and kind of health-wise too…though clearly you guys have never had any problems with the latter.

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