Wendy Copley of Wendolonia posted on Facebook , "I'm curious -- what was your school lunch like when you were a kid? Did you bring your lunch? Eat school lunch? What were your favorite things to eat? How did you bring lunch to school?"
I went to half-day Kindergarten in the mornings, so I ate lunch at my babysitter's house. I am sure my Aunt Pat fed us a variety of good food, but I remember my favorite thing was when she would slice up hot dogs and microwave them, and the pieces would stick together where they were touching. I have strange memories... I do remember my Kindergarten teacher making green scrambled eggs in an electric skillet one day in honor of Dr. Seuss!
In first through third grades, I had standard public school lunch fare served on divided trays. I remember lots of canned corn and peas, instant mashed potatoes dished out with ice cream scoops, and big flat rectangles of "pizza." Yes, that "pizza" deserves the air quotes - it had a distinctive sickly-sweet sauce on top of a crust that may as well have been sheets of soggy cardboard. I brought my lunch in a lunch bag or box - usually a sandwich and more canned corn or peas (or both mixed together - my odd favorite!) or green beans, and a Thermos of milk (this exact Thermos).
I transferred to a very small private school in fourth grade, where I attended through high school. They made deals with five local fast food restaurants to buy our school lunches. One day was two KFC Chicken Littles sandwiches (back when they were flat, processed chicken patties on tiny bread rolls with a dab of mayo) and mashed potatoes with gravy; one day was Subway sandwiches (ham or turkey, with cheese) and plain Lays potato chips and a chocolate chip cookie; one day was Long John Silver's fried fish or chicken with fries and hush puppies; one day was McDonald's Happy Meals; and Friday was Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut. I liked these options, but I also brought my lunch sometimes, mostly because of my budget.
When I was in seventh grade, our school had bought a new building with a kitchen, and one of the moms was hired to cook our lunches. What an upgrade! We had real homemade meals like meatloaf, barbecue chicken, macaroni and cheese, chili, spaghetti, turkey and dressing, baked potato bar, nacho bar,.... There were lots of vegetables, both fresh and cooked. Dessert and fruit alternated days. In high school, we had the option of a salad bar every day.
The school has since contracted with the local public school system to have meals brought in. So now the students are getting the standard public school fare, delivered in pans every day from the central kitchen by a lunch lady. One good thing about that is the ability to offer free and reduced lunches to those who need them. I have gone to eat with my little sister a few times, and it is terrible. Dry, bland, overly processed meats with potatoes and ketchup as vegetables. Now she reports that they are trying to make things healthier, but how exactly is a breaded chicken patty on a bun any healthier than the (most likely beef-and-soy) hamburger on a bun that it replaced? Until they get a handle on healthy choices that also taste good, it is not going to help anyone, and it gives the children another reason to hate healthy food!