As National Farm to School Month comes to a close, I can’t help but think of my own school lunch. The memories are vivid: Our lunch monitor’s booming voice, “Hot food first!”; holding up the lunch line agonizing over chocolate or white milk; learning I’m allergic to kiwi.
Curious to see if others were as impacted by their school lunch, I littered the Milky Way Cafe at Organic Valley headquarters with lunch trays taped with signs that said, “Describe your most vivid school lunch memory.” With pens and pencils, Organic Valley employees proved my theory: School lunch leaves a lasting impression, even after all these years.
Enjoy these school lunch memories courtesy of Organic Valley employees:
“My first memory of school lunch is elementary school in Madison, Wisconsin, circa 1978. Our lunches were delivered hot on a truck from a main distribution center. Opening up the aluminum foil sectioned out lunch container to find 1 of about 10 different lunch options. I have memories of turkey gravy, green beans, mashed potatoes and white bread with butter. I have good memories, because I was always hungry for lunch and not really picky. Just by the smells, you could always tell when the truck arrived.” – Jen B.
“When I think of school lunches, I think of the little individual glass bottles for our milk, and that without fail at least one bottle would get broken every day. When the sound of a breaking bottle would be heard in the lunch room, everyone would do a group cheer, and the nuns would have to make us quiet down.” – Connie R.
“Growing up, I was one of the only kids in my class to bring a sack lunch to school, which at first made me feel left out. But the unease always turned to relief when I would enjoy my peanut butter and jelly sandwich (always in a fun shape, because my mom is the best), chocolate milk, and fruit cup–all while the other kids picked at their mushy vegetables, gray rubbery meat, or canned spaghetti. Needless to say, I never traded my lunch. Plus, my She-ra lunchbox was THE coolest!” – Jenny C.
“I’ll always remember school lunch because that’s when I learned I was allergic to kiwi. I loved kiwi and would continually slip it onto my tray despite the reaction. After a while (and a few close-calls) the lunch ladies caught on and started checking my tray. What can I say? I love kiwi, even if it doesn’t love me.” – Chloe S.
“My entire school career was spent attending schools close enough that I could always scoot home for lunch, which I did, almost always. But, the allure of chocolate milk–all those little soldiers of pleasure stacked uniformly in that galvanized, casket cooler under stained glass windows–well, I had to stay for THAT from time-to-time. From my very first in-school taste, as a nap-woozy kindergartner suddenly introduced to the cool combination of milk (my favorite) and chocolate (also my favorite), that utter delight is what school lunch has meant to me. The food never mattered.” – Andy R.
“I remember rectangular pizza, mushy vegetable medley, chicken and biscuit ‘mystery’–that tasted so good, but ingredients were truly a mystery–and meat slush that when mixed in a bag of Fritos became a Walking Taco.” – Theresa G.
Do you have a school lunch memory you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!