Thursday, November 17, 2011

School Lunches are Disgusting Enough Already

....and after
      The first time I walked into my middle school cafeteria, I thought I might have stumbled into heaven. At least until I ended up at the very back of the line. But long waits aside, it seemed spectacular. My elementary school cafeteria had two lines, each one offering a different choice everyday. But this new school had five. Five. A pizza line. A salad bar. One for sandwiches. Another for corndogs, mini corndogs, chicken sandwiches, and spicy chicken sandwiches. A "variety" line  that changes daily with baked potatoes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
     After a few months, the charm wore off. Half of the sandwiches are made in factories and shipped to my school in cardboard boxes. The pizza comes from Five Buck in cardboard boxes. The variety and carnivore line are out of question because I'm an involuntary vegetarian (I gag if I try to eat a piece of steak the size of my thumbnail).
     Then the salad bar-the delicious salad bar with eggs and olives and cheese and croutons and cream cheese I visited three days a week-was replaced by a table of prepackaged salads in plastic containers. I've gotten them maybe ten times since they changed things two years ago. I feel so wasteful because they're big salads
with 3 spoonfuls of eggs and about 36 cubic inches of spinach.
     I guess things could be worse. We don't have mystery meat like they do in cartoons (though I'm not exactly sure where the corndogs come from). My brothers, who are still in elementary school, have whole wheat breadsticks that don't break if you whack them against the table.
    This week I heard on the news that congress was considering a bill that would make school lunches healthier to reduce childhood obesity. I actually shouted at the TV. Healthier is not the problem here. The problem is making the stuff they give us lest disgusting. I've seen people skip lunch hundreds of times. That's not an exaggeration. It's not just the vegetarians and anorexics, but people who don't feel like eating factory dust again.
     Besides, obesity? Sure, some people have weight problems. Even twelve-year-olds. But according to Michelle Obama, 1 out of 3 people under 18 are overweight.
     Uh, no. Every time I hear that, I look at the people around me. There are six at this table, lady. Which two of us are fat? The girl who eats lunch twice a month? The one who throws away a half-eaten sandwich? (There are starving teenagers in countries your husband doesn't oversee) Oh, those statistics don't necessarily apply to our group? Maybe to that girl at the next table then, the one who's eating a bag of peas  from home with no drink or other food groups to balance it out.
     I'm sure we could find some common ground. Something healthy and tasty.


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