As I sit here and eat a relatively healthy lunch whilst I blog, for some reason I’m thinking about the kids that are in school today. Perhaps it’s because a school bus tried to run me off the road on my way home. Whatever the reason, I got to thinking that most likely the kids in school today are not eating a healthy lunch. They are eating junk food in their school cafeteria. This is sad.

Back when I was in school, a monthly lunch menu was handed out at the beginning of the month. (As an aside, in my school district it was my mother who typed the menu and she would filch a few advance copies for my sister and I. We were like gods with this knowledge.) Listed were all the meals that were to be served for lunch that month. There were few choices. A typical day would be like “Tomato or Chicken Noodle Soup, half of a PB&J or turkey salad sandwich, milk, choice of cookie.” During the Carter administration, peanuts accompanied at least two meals per week. Said lunch was made by a dedicated staff of cafeteria workers who actually cared about the food they were serving up. They were basically cooking the same stuff they cooked at home, just for a really big family. If you didn’t like what was on the menu that day, you brought your own lunch.

Nowadays, soda and snack vending machines populate school cafeterias and kids are bypassing the traditional lunch line and heading for a bag of Doritos and a bottle of pop. Still hungry? Have a candy bar. And if you do go through the cafeteria line, there’s a really good chance that you’re eating an over-processed, pre-cooked, preservative laden ‘meal’ that was nuked especially for you. There’s a wild assortment of food including tacos, burritos, pizza, pre-made submarine sandwiches, chicken nuggets, french fries; the list goes on and on. Small wonder we have hyper, unfocused, belligerent children in our society today.

What is sad is that funding to our schools has been cut back so much that they have to resort to corporate sponsored food in order to keep the school going! “The band doesn’t need the money for the all-star trip, they can boost their income with the loot from the Sugar-Pop machine.” Boo! “We can’t afford to send the football team to the dome for the playoffs, maybe they can get some money from the Cavity Candy machine.” How horrid is that?

What happened to the days of a “home cooked meal” at school? Is it really too expensive? Too time consuming? No one cares but me? I find that last one hard to believe.

All I know is that when I eat junk food, I get an excellent energy rush for about an hour and then I feel tired and lethargic for the rest of the day. I don’t feel like learning. I don’t feel like being productive. I don’t even feel like moving. How can we expect a child to sit up and learn the history of the world after eating a generic Big Mac?

I don’t know why I’m thinking about this today. We don’t have kids. My mother doesn’t type the menu anymore. I’m not bucking for a spot on the Board of Education. Maybe I just wish that the kids in school today could have the same quality lunch that I had at Pulaski Academy and Central School.