Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Take a Bite Out Of School Lunch Costs

Every day when I make my daughter's lunch I carry on a tradition that started with my mom. She’d make my sandwich for school every day. And every day she’d take a bite out of my sandwich. For many years I didn’t even question it. It seemed so normal.

Then the kids started asking. “Who took a bite of your sandwich?” they’d ask.

“My mom,” I’d say. “You mean your mom doesn’t take a bite out of your sandwich?” I’d ask.

“No!” they’d laugh. I always felt a little sorry for them, assuming their mothers must not love them the way mine loves me. So now I carry on the same tradition…

“Geez mom do you have to take a bite out of my sandwich again?”

“Yes,” I said, mouth full. She caught me in the act … again.

But if you’ve taken a good look at the school lunch menu, you might understand why I take the time each day to maker her lunch. I've seen corndogs, nachos and pretzels with cheese on the menu. Excuse me but isn't that carnival food? The average calories per meal is between 700-800. I'm not a nutritionist, but that seems like a lot to me.

A friend of mine who recently started making her kids lunches had similar sentiments after making herself familiar with the school lunch menu. She was horrified and vowed to start making lunches in brown bags the old fashioned way.

Still, I have to give credit to the school lunch provider Sodexho. Making lunch for kids raised on McDonalds can't be easy. These kids grew up in a time when, until recently, the best tasting food made the biggest profit and few companies (or consumers, for that matter!) really cared about how healthy the product was. Taste came first at the sacrifice of health. Things are getting better. Still, lunchmakers like Sodexho (and me) compete for my daughter’s choice of lunch. My goal: nutrition. Their goal is to make a profit for their company and for the school district. If the food doesn't appeal to the kids they lose.

And I must admit this year’s school lunch menus are looking healthier.

Still, I make her lunch as often as I can – I think that whatever I send her is a little healthier than what they’re offering.

Plus it saves me money! I figure the cost of my homemade lunch at around $1, as compared to around $3. And then I get to take a bite out of her sandwich.

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