Sioux Falls School Lunch Review: ‘Almost Exactly What I Remember’
You may recall a photo of a school lunch went viral couple of weeks ago after the mom posted a not so appetizing green banana, small portion of chicken, and refried beans. I had also heard of horrible time burdens placed on the kids to eat before they are dismissed and forced to leave. So I put it to the test today and ate lunch with my fourth-grade daughter at school.
I started the stopwatch on my watch as I walked with my daughter and her class to the lunch room to see how much time we would get for the whole activity. As we walked I asked her what we were having. She told me what the menu said: Beef Patty on WG Bun, Corn, Peaches, Milk Choices. As you can see in the photo, peaches were not served but the fruit and vegetable drink Dragon Punch was.
I ate all of my food. "The Beef Patty on WG Bun," which the rest of the world calls a "hamburger," was almost exactly what I remember burgers at school to be like. The corn was surprisingly good, though not as sweet as my taste buds expected. And Dragon Punch was actually decent and served as a fruit/vegetable serving.
Was this like the exquisite Sunday brunch that was served at our hotel in Minnesota month ago? Nope. Not even close. But it was food. As someone who doesn't often eat lunch, it was enough for my 270 pound frame to be satiated.
My daughter, a picky eater, ate only her burger and drank the Dragon Punch. She's a big milk drinker, but she will only drink whole or 2 percent milk. Since 1 percent is the fattiest served she didn't drink it. I asked her why she took it if she wasn't going to drink it.
"They make us take it," she said. What an abhorrent waste. A perfectly good, unopened half pint carton of milk is getting thrown in the trash because it simply touched my daughter's tray. Her friend had a fat free chocolate milk that I saved from waste by asking to drink it. Fat free chocolate milk is not great.
I was told by one of the girls at the table I was sitting at that the adults in the lunch room weren't yelling at kids as much today. I asked if that was because the kids were all being better behaved.
"No," she said. "It's because you're here. Whenever a parent is eating here they always yell less."
I know what she meant. Last year when I ate at school with her a rather unpleasant woman was yelling and making a stink, threatening to withhold recess time, if they didn't pipe down. I chuckled at this. I've been at lunch events with nothing but adults, fewer in number, that were easily louder than the kids were the day I was there. Today the kid volume was about the same as last year.
A woman came over to dismiss our collapsible table, which I had trouble sitting down at or getting up from due to my size. I looked at my watch. It read 21 minutes and 19 seconds. Plenty of time for a kid to get and eat lunch if they aren't screwing around.
Aside from the copious amounts of wasted food, I thought it was just fine. My daughter's milk that she doesn't drink would pay for 75 percent of another kid's reduced lunch were she allowed to not take food she doesn't want and won't eat. I may have gotten a show that the kids don't see on a daily basis, but I didn't see anything that cause me to post a snap judgement on social media. I wrote a more thought out judgement on our website instead.