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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

What's For Lunch at YOUR School?

Well, it's Tuesday, September 5th, and for a lot of us, we know what that day means.

It's Back to School time!  Well, for most of Canada and the northern part of the U.S.A., that is.

And, let's face it, for parents of kids who are going back to school, there can be a plethora of emotions going through their heads.  If your child is entering kindergarten, you know that it may be a sad day as you realize that your children are growing up.  By the time they enter high school, you might just be thrilled to finally get rid of them for the next nine and a half months!

For most parents, back to school shopping usually includes buying eight hundred packages of lined paper, several packages of pens (one in EVERY colour), and finding just the right binder or Trapper Keeper that looks unique enough that no other child would have it, but isn't so weird that it makes your kid stand out for all the wrong reasons.

But that's just part of the whole back to school experience.  Because I'm sure that most of you probably have a budget for preparing the perfect school lunch.'s subject in the blog is all about school lunch memories.  And believe me, I do have a few memories to share, even though I was in a bit of a unique situation.

For starters, I didn't live that far from school - my elementary school was actually a couple of blocks away from the place where I lived.  That meant that for most occasions, I just went home for lunch.  This was both good and bad for me in many ways.  It was good because I was almost guaranteed to have a hot lunch every time I went home...but it was bad because I didn't get to hang around the other kids as much as I would have liked.

(Which ultimately ended up becoming a positive as a lot of them weren't very nice anyway, but I digress.)

There were some rare occasions in which I did have to stay at school for lunch though.  Whenever we signed up for sports and games (like volleyball and broomball), the games were always held during lunch hour, so anyone who played had to eat lunch in the gym.  Also there was that time that an eclipse took place and they kept us all in school to prevent us from going blind. 

Whatever the case, there were a few occasions in which I stayed for lunch.  And any kid who ever ate lunch at school knew that the first step in preparing the perfect lunch was to have the perfect lunch box.

You see, back in my day, we didn't have those fancy, stylish looking lunch bags with the velcro strips for closing and opening and the inner linings that kept your drinks hot or cold.  Nope.  We had those plastic gigantic lunch boxes that had the Thermos attached to them with our favourite cartoon heroes or television shows decorating them. 

I can still remember my lunchbox.  It was a bright, neon orange box that had the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on it.  It definitely stood out in a crowd, as most of the other boys used Transformers, G.I. Joe, or Star Wars lunchboxes.  The girls mostly stuck with Rainbow Brite, Strawberry Shortcake, or Muppet Babies.

Now, what I actually brought for can be deemed quite controversial nowadays, but back in the 1980s and early 1990s, it was considered a delicacy.  These days you wouldn't even think to bring a peanut butter sandwich to school because of all the allergy concerns, but back when I was a kid, all I ate was peanut butter sandwiches.  I was a fussy child back then and didn't really eat too much lunch meat.  Thankfully I grew out of that phase!

Of course, at my school, there was a small canteen that was available in the second floor of the school.  In fact, it was always in Room 24 - the same class where we learned French.  Every lunch period, the classroom would offer us a few things that we could add to our lunches if we wanted.  There was 2% milk, chocolate milk, lemonade, bags of potato chips, and bags of Cheetos that we could buy - and at that time, I want to say that each item was fifty cents.  I could be wrong though.  I didn't really go to the canteen that much, but I do admit that whenever they had lemonade, I always bought like three of them!

(What can I say?  Playing volleyball made me thirsty!)

Now, this set up remained throughout my school from grade one to grade eight.  Once we graduated into high school, we had our very own school cafeteria that served lunches to all of the students who brought lunch money with them - well, all of them except me.  In my years of high school, I never stayed for lunch once!  And that's because I conveniently lived right next door to my high school.  Of course, given how hard a time I had in school those years, part of it was a curse.  But hey, at least I didn't have to spend my lunch hour with them!

Oh, wait.  Correction.  In high school, I didn't get an hour lunch.  We got 48 minutes.  Yes, I went to a weird school.

Now, as a result of never eating lunch at school, I never really got a chance to sample the daily offerings that our school had to offer.  Well, okay, I did get to have a few cookies because they usually baked enough of them for us to have some during spare periods after lunch, but that was really it.  And, might I add that those cookies were fantastic?

From what I heard from other kids who went to my school, we were one of the lucky ones who actually had somewhat decent food in there.  There are three high schools in my area, and two of them were in the area that I dubbed "Fast Food Alley" - meaning that they were located just steps away from at least one fast food outlet.  One was right next door to Dairy Queen and the other one was just across the street from McDonald's and Subway.

Since my school didn't have any restaurants nearby (except for the delightful little nook known as "Pizza Pro" which made the most delicious poutines), the cafeteria served quite a few teen friendly dishes including pizza, hoagies, and macaroni and cheese.

Oh, and I think every Thursday there was a build your own nacho bar which I think most of the students who ate there agree was the best of the days.  Again, it's only speculation as I never ate at the school cafeteria, but that's what I have heard.

Would I actually trade the days of going home for lunch just to eat at the school cafeteria though?  Probably not!  Again, homemade hot lunches that were delicious and prepared with love versus nachos that were sitting out for at least an hour before lunch actually started?  Yeah, no brainer.  Still, it might have been cool to have sampled the school grub at least once.

But now I turn the floor over to you.  What are some of your school lunch memories?  What did your lunchbox look like?  What did your school serve for lunch?  And did you manage to keep it down throughout fifth and sixth periods?

1 comment:

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