When I eat lunch at a school, I try to choose the healthiest option that is reimbursable through the National School Lunch Program.
At Border Star Montessori in Brookside, kids have Recess Before Lunch then eat together in their classrooms. The lunch period lasts as long as the children are eating — in the Montessori tradition, it’s an opportunity to demonstrate grace and courtesy and engage in conversation. Real cutlery has been ordered from the district supplier (goodbye sporks!) and a drive is planned to encourage parents to bring cloth napkins, napkin rings, drinking glasses, and carafes for serving milk. (Principal Tina Langston wants to bring a rule from her childhood to the school lunch period: “no labels on the table.”)
While the eating environment at Border Star is stellar, today’s menu choices are limited: a hamburger with corn, a chicken quesadilla with refried beans, and this salad, topped with half a boiled egg and fresh vegetables. (I’m not sure this is technically a reimbursable meal since there isn’t a grain serving — my friend’s salad came with a roll, which I think was accidentally left off my tray.) I don’t drink milk, and I didn’t eat the fruit cocktail because I wasn’t sure if it was packed in juice or syrup. (I’ve practically eliminated processed sugars from my diet, and would rather have it in a piece of dark chocolate, than in a cup of fruit.) Though the salad tasted good, I was still hungry, and wish I had eaten the quesadilla.
On the bright side, the school’s administration, staff and parents are very interested in nutrition and are working to increase the amount of fresh, whole fruits and vegetables offered to students. In fact, the salad is a new option this year, because they asked the district’s supplier, Sodexo, for it.
With strong parent involvement and a staff that believes children’s bodies and spirits are as critical to learning as their minds, I predict that in a year or two, Border Star’s school lunches will be out of this world.
tuesday march 31, 2009