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Monday, 16 June 2014

Lunchroom Milk, Wedgies and Humble Pie

By Dan Gogerty who blogs at Cast

According to a new report, school kids are in a bind about a few of the new cafeteria regulations including the milk dilemma. Since some schools are cutting out chocolate milk to lower sugar intake, students are not drinking as much milk. They must have been “Got Chocolate Milk” fans.

photo: adventuresofgrandmahoney.blogspot.com

Even decades ago when we grabbed our plastic trays in my fifth-grade school days, the lunchroom had a milk problem. The milk issue stemmed from the fact that sometimes the milk hadn’t been kept cold enough or it was World War I surplus or something — it was curdled.

I’m against having to strain my milk before drinking it. The little cartons had wax on the outside so they were fun to play with but at every table, at least one kid apparently couldn’t read yet because he’d open the side that said “open other side” and he was certain to cause a milk spill — usually non-toxic but it depended on how curdled it was.

The news article says modern school cafeterias are figuring out better ways to get kids to eat healthy. They might name the food “x-ray peas” or “crunchy carrots.” Ours would have been “pasty peas” and “soggy celery.”

And schools now place fresh fruit within easy reach. We grew up in fertile farm country but many kids probably thought fruit only came in a can where it was covered with some type of syrup.

Not that our cafeteria crew didn’t try — they were doing what they could in the era before labels, calorie counts and television celebrity nutritionists. They must have been handed a year’s supply of macaroni and cheese with a weekly dose of limp fish sticks.

Most kids loved hot dog day because we never wondered what they were made of and no one asked for gluten-free or even peanut-free food - “choice” was not part of the English language in that cafeteria.

That didn’t bother us because we had bigger issues at hand. The goal was to get out of the lunchroom without an older kid giving you a friendly nuggie on the noggin or a not-so-friendly “underwear wedgie” if you happened to bend over to pick up a dropped fork.

I like the “eat healthy” movement but it could take a while to get things figured out. Different interest groups and political factions will probably use food to score points or make a profit but the kids are the key.

ap>Whether it be milk, sugar or protein, the various groups and government officials should figure out what’s best. Otherwise, it’s time to serve them up something that several of us fifth-graders ate on occasion when a classmate placed mashed potatoes on our chair — humble pie.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Dan, I loved this hilarious story, starting with its irresistible title.

Maybe part of why I loved it as that it's similar to a speech I once gave in Toastmasters about school lunches and my mother's efforts to get my brother and me to eat our vegetables at home.

We'd try to get out of it by claiming that we'd had the same vegetables at school in the cafeteria.

You write about World War One surplus. I spoke about "surplus left over from the Eisenhower administration."

I guess great minds think alike.

A good story--funny! I learned to like soupbeans on cornbread with spinach or greens. I could probably have had every other kids' portions, had I wanted. No choice at all there, but for the most part, we ate what we were given in those during-and-post-WW II days. My ingenious father, the meat cook in our house, invented a barbecued beef recipe using the cheap, tough cuts that we were able to get in that wartime rationing time--I'd match it up against any pulled pork recipe that I've enjoyed in recent years.

Interesting story. As a kid I remember the lunch pail that I brought my lunch in. I don't think they had free lunch at that time and we couldn't afford it.

As a teacher I was shocked by the trays full of food that children returned to be dumped. What a waste!

Now I wonder why they offer a full tray of food when there might be less waste if children could choose what they wanted to eat.

I enjoyed this story, reading it and looking at the photo of the "cafeteria ladies" brought back memories in bits and pieces. I do remember lunchroom milk in those small containers. When I was grammer school we walked to the basement for a snack of one 'windmill' cookie and a carton of milk. I don't know why my early grade school memories are so much clearer than my high school memories. I did love those windmill cookies :) Every once in a while I look for them while shopping. I find them--they are the same, but somehow different. Thank you for this little trip back.

When my brothers went to school in the early fifties, they worked a full morning doing chores before school even started. At lunchtime, many of the kids weren't interested in their food, and my brothers had burned up twice the calories they needed in a day, so thankfully chowed down on whatever their pals didn't want. Today it's against the rules to share the food. I feel for the farm boys and it breaks my heart how much food gets tossed. Thanks for the sharing.

A lot of food does get tossed, Beth, but there aren't any "farm boys" anymore. The farms have turned into megafields that are managed by huge air-conditioned machines, some are totally automated & guided by GPS. I'm an old farm girl from Nebraska beginning my final year in pubic education; sad to say that way of life started going away fast in the '80's, and now is gone.

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