When BuzzFeed asked me if I’d be down to taste test some options served for Los Angeles, public school lunch, of course I was down.
Before I get into my particular reactions to the things they surprised me with, I’d like to give you a little backstory on my personal journey with school lunch.
I attended public schools in Arizona for the entirety of my school-aged years. Elementary, junior and high schools were all in public schools and all without a packed lunch from my parents. Every single day. I distinctly remember the smell of the cafeteria in elementary school, which doubled as the multi-purpose room. It smelled like dishwater and day-old pizza, nuked in the microwave. That’s also how everything they served ultimately tasted.
Junior high expanded the options a bit. Everyone got hot on the jock for Taco Salad Tuesdays because what blossoming, hormonal teen doesn’t love a good deep-fried tortilla shell at 11:30am on a Tuesday? None that I know. For the most part though, it was a collection of poorly prepared stadium foods. Yes. I know that sounds entirely oxymoronic. I’m fairly sure my cocker spaniel could have cooked a Super Pretzel with his eyes closed better than the pretzel & Velveeta number they were trying to pass off as nutritious. And yeah. I know. Dog’s don’t even have opposable thumbs.
High school was…it doesn’t count. I attended a school that had an open campus policy during the lunch hour. We drove off of school grounds and ate Taco Bell or Wendy’s or Fazoli’s. We had this shit under control for ourselves. We were making our own food intake decisions like the adults we thought we were. We knew everything there was to know about good choices. We were high-schoolers.
In summary, the food the school provided always wasn’t that great. Bland and flavorless, but something. An option that wasn’t no option. We ate it. And our parents complained. Fast forward to now and I was given the opportunity to take a bite out of what improvements they’ve made with the menus. As a parent who packs a lunch for their child to eat every day at school.