Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quite Possibly the Best School Lunch I've Ever Eaten

I pulled a Mrs. Q the other day. For those of you who don't know Mrs. Q, she writes Fed Up With Lunch, and is a school staffer who bravely buys, photographs, and eats school lunch every day.

Where I am, we only have hot lunch once a week. Hot lunch programs in BC are run by volunteers, and vary from school to school. While in BC we have the Healthy Living Guidelines which dictates what can and can't be served, the variety and quality of the food varies widely from school to school.

In the name of research, I bought school lunch this week for the first time in two years. The last time I bought school lunch, I was at a different school. My lunch had been forgotten on the counter at home and desperately hungry, I bought pasta.

The pasta was starchy, overcooked, devoid of any taste, and orange. Orange because the sauce was so scant that it wasn't even sauce, but rather just a coloring on the pasta. It was so bad that I threw it away.

This time, years later at a different school, the menu was pizza and Caesar salad. I didn't know what to expect. Bought pizza? Frozen pizza? Greasy, stringy, pizza?

As lunch drew closer, the smell of cheese and fresh crust wafted through the school to the point where it was unbearable. When the lunch bell rang, kids RAN to the lunchroom, so as not to miss their spot and therefore, their chance at pizza. As I watched the ladies pull fresh pizzas from the ovens, slice fresh tomatoes, peppers, and zucchinis, slather home made whole wheat crusts with from scratch tomato sauce, I began to get excited. I wanted to yell it from the school roof, tweet with wild abandon, go to Britain, grab Jamie Oliver, drag him here, and show him what these women are doing.

Then I'd dance around the lunch room at our good fortune because people, we may be small, we may be isolated, but we have the BEST DAMN LUNCH of any school I have ever seen in four districts. Blessed. We really, truly, are blessed.

These women have been feeding the kids like this LONG before the food revolution. I raved and drooled, and I'm sure the ladies thought I was insane. I talked about how amazing they were, that oh my god is that real basil on the pizza, and how I wanted to write here, and talk at Blissdom about what great work they do.

I think they were embarrassed. Or thought I was completely crazy. Maybe both.

This lunch, my friends, is as good as it can possibly get. For $4 Canadian.

School Lunch

I snarfed that cheesy deliciousness down, licking my fingers, and would have licked the plate if my co-workers weren't eying me with amusement.

THIS is how school lunch is supposed to be. It can be, and IS this way, courtesy of the dedication and hard work of parents who bring it to our children. Parents who put in their own time to not just feed them, but feed them WELL. I realize that we're blessed, but you can have this too.

Want to change your school's food or maintain the great food you already have?

Volunteer. Get involved. THIS is the prize, and it's not some crazy, unattainable goal. It's completely possible, but the only way it can be done is if we do it together.

Go. RUN.

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