It’s a Lunch War

BlogHer Book Club ReviewerI have thought off and on about school lunches since my children started school. I look at the posted menus. I read what the website has to say about lunches. I thought that was enough.

Their first elementary school had lunches much like the ones offered at my school growing up, with the added bonus of once you started third grade, you could use the salad bar. Unfortunately, when I would eat lunch with my kids, it seemed that plates of pickles were a common choice for “salad.” There was rather more food in the classroom than I expected–parties for not just birthday children, but for random school days. Then there was the snack issue. All children had a snack–provided by parents–daily. Once I was out of kindergarten, there was no snack time at school. Certainly not pre-packaged shelf stable snacks.

As time wore on and schools changed, I have pondered the fact the middle school has an “ala carte” line and vending machines. I had a bit of a meltdown when one child announced she could buy energy drinks at school. The first high schooler opened my eyes to a wider world of oddness and change. He could get Starbucks bottled drinks and made to order subs. There were the vending machines again. Open all day, but they have been evolving–to snacks and beverages that are “healthier.” Mostly these tend to be not so healthy diet drinks and low nutrient/fake nutrient foods. You know–the sort of junk food you pick up at a place like Whole Foods. But, it seemed better.

It seemed better that is until I read Lunch Wars as part of the Blogher Book Club review program. Oh my. While my children go to schools with websites proclaiming gardens, healthy food choices, and USDA guidelines–the reality is different. Both the book and interviewing my children about their school lunch options opened my eyes to a lot of room for growth in the places where my children spend a great deal of time.

The options that sound healthiest at the schools? Not available. Or as the 15-hear-old said “so they say.” The thought that “Oh we pack lunch, we don’t need to worry about it.” Gone. They can use their lunch cards in the vending machine should they leave a scrounged dollar at home. The lunch card–also the mandatory student id that gets checked several times a day. Then there are the classroom issues. I won’t natter on, you really should read the book.

Read other Book Club reviewers thoughts and join the discussion at Blogher Book Club. I am sure it is going to be a lively one!

This was a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.


  1. It’s funny my children are in elementary school there is no vending machines nor cafeteria. It offers a hot lunch once a month and each grade gets to help with the meal. As well the school has a plot at the community garden across the street. And the kids participate in the Garden Club. I feel extremely fortunate that I don’t have to deal with those issues yet…

    I think Junior High and High School will be a change. I’m not sure if I’m ready for the access to vending machine junk. I do hope that there is a salad bar and lots of options when there time rolls around.

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