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School lunches

Kathsgrdn
12 days ago

Listened to a podcast yesterday on the way to work about school lunches. A woman had written a book about people's experiences growing up and their lunches. It made me think about my school lunches growing up.


The earliest I remember was first grade in San Pedro. My dad had to rent a house in another school district than the one we ended up in because we had to wait on base housing to open up. The only school lunch I remember getting was greasy chicken in a paper bag. And not good chicken like my mom made but that horrible shake n bake type coating. When we finally moved to base housing I alternated between school lunches and lunch brought from home. I don't remember what they served us at school or what I brought from home, but I do remember my lunch box. I had a Cinderella, metal box with a magnetized game on the back.


School lunches when we moved to Nevada when I was 9, I can remember a little more. The food was pretty good and I miss the square, Friday pizza with chocolate milk. Also there was rice, ground beef and gravy that was really good. I've actually tried to duplicate it at home and can't. I don't remember any other meals, though.


I don't remember Jr. High meals either. In High school we didn't have a cafeteria and by then my dad had retired and bought a house about a block from the school. I was able to walk home from school to eat.


I thought it would be interesting to hear about your experiences growing up, especially those who grew up in other countries or different decades. I know our school lunches in the town I live in now are horrible. I've eaten them years ago with my kids, a couple times. Only the current foreign exchange kids I have think they are okay. The others hated our school lunches.

Comments (49)

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    I always ate the school cafeteria offerings. In grade school you only had one choice but in junior high and high school they always had burgers, hot dogs, and various sandwiches as an alternative.

    My favorite was chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and white gravy with a roll and veggie.

    I remember I didn't care for 'spaghetti red'. The square pizza was decent as was the Salisbury steak. I can't remember much else that they offered so I guess it was rather unremarkable.

    In high school they allowed kids to go off campus for lunch so we did that once or twice a week.

    I entered kindergarten in the fall of 1968.

  • nicole___
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    In 1st grade we lived across from my school. I liked the square pizza, so my mom started making it. She tried freezing it with raw yeast-dough and it would ferment with the pizza sauce when she unthawed it. It tasted & smelled like wine. ☺

    In 4th grade, we lived in Albuquerque NM. They served horse meat enchiladas(they were a weird pink color) and beets cut up into little squares, no one would eat....except me. I considered borscht a normal meal...so plain beets were fine. Kids kept trying to trade me their beets for my enchiladas.

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  • functionthenlook
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    I entered 1st grade in 1960. Catholic grade school and public jr and senior high. The food wasn't bad at all. . All food was homemade on site by lunch ladies employed by the school. No, packaged shipped in food from a catering service. In grade school we only had one meal choice. The nuns made sure we ate most of our meal before we were allowed to go out for recess. We use to sneak the food we didn't like into our empty milk carton and close it up. The nuns would then think we ate it. In the public school we had two meal choices. By the last couple years of high school they started the ala cart food. I rarely took a packed lunch. My parents wanted us to experience a variety of foods. So you ate what was served or you went hungry. I did the same with my kids. Some of my favorites were beef pinwheels, spaghetti, turkey with all the fixings, deconstructed chicken pot pies and pizza.

  • nicole___
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    functionthenlook....your 4 years older than I am. ☺

  • Uptown Gal
    12 days ago

    through 6th grade I lived a block from the school and went home for lunch every day. Middle

    School ...either took my lunch or ate in the cafeteria...weren't allowed off school grounds

    without a note from home. High School...they had a cafeteria, but I never was in it. LOL

    Lots of places near the school to eat, and it was an open campus so off we went. Lunch

    hours were staggered though, so not to over-load the town..but kids with cars were not

    allowed to take their cars off for lunch unless they had limited job hours. and had the

    proper ID.. Weren't too many days that we actually ate a decent lunch...mostly wandered

    around.

  • foodonastump
    12 days ago

    I remember tater tots and sloppy joes. That’s about it. But what I really remember is how jealous I was of the kids who got to buy. My mom, who managed to put a reasonably varied meal on the plate for dinner every single night (I can count take-out or restaurant on one hand) was not so creative with packed lunches. Tuna. Every. Single. Day. Wrapped in waxed paper which would get soaked through and I’d have to peel pieces off the sandwich. Eventually I would just throw it out every day and fend for myself. Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t say anything. I knew it was tuna because it was cheap. She probably stretched one can into more than lunch for my father and me. I rember him saying, ”Once I retire I will never eat tuna ever again.” Evidently he didn’t have the nerve to complain, either. Or he put up with it because he was frugal as well. Oops, I slid off topic!

  • Elizabeth
    12 days ago

    In early grade school I lived 4 doors away from the little red brick school house on the corner. Actually it was catty corner. I walked home for lunch each day. It was usually soup and sandwich with fruit for dessert and milk. Later when I attended public schools I had a metal lunch box and had cold cut sandwiches fruit and sometimes a cookie. We had milk delivery to the school so the cartons were handed out to us while we ate at our desks. I always wanted the hot soup some kids had in their thermoses but it never happened.

  • dedtired
    12 days ago

    Gosh you all are making me remember the aroma of my school lunches brought from home. It didnt seem to matter what I brought, my lunch box always had a similar aroma. My lunch was always a sandwich, fruit, dessert and milk in a thermos. I loved baby applesauce but was embarrassed by the baby jar so my mom put it in a different container.


    We also could buy the platter. we got a menu for the following week and had to sign up in advance, The platter cost 35 cents. One nasty teacher wojld stand by the trash cans and make sure no one was scraping uneaten food into the garbage. Once we had stewed tomatoes and I hated them. The teacher said i had to eat them so I told her I was allergic. Ha ha.


    We always had recess right after lunch.


    In high school all I cared about was being thin, too thin, so I ate skim milk and an apple every day.



  • Elizabeth
    12 days ago

    Everyone in our household either went to work or school all day so preparing lunches in the morning was a fairly rushed affair. No-one had time to heat soup or cocoa. I was so thin in high school that the Dr. prescribed "appetite pills" for me. They were big horse pills and made my stomach burn and hurt. If anything I ate less when I took them. I stopped taking them on my own and discreetly threw a few in the toilet every now and then until the bottle was empty. Since they didn't seem to help me gain weight, the prescription stopped being refilled.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    12 days ago

    It seems that I am older than most who have responded (graduated HS in '66 :-)) I took a packed lunch in grade school but do remember them selling ice cream sandwiches for like a nickel or dime or whatever the cartons of milk sold for - hard to remember precisely that far back but do remember the chocolate ripple and the raspberry ripple flavors were very tasty! I'd skip the milk in favor of the ice cream :-)

    In high school we could come and go at lunchtime so we ate out most of the time. But I do remember school lunches in middle school (then called junior high) and I bought most days. What stands out is chili and cinnamon rolls, an odd combination but always served together. Chop suey served over rice, mashed potatoes and gravy (served with almost everything else), hamburgers (plain) and turkey with trimmings served at the holidays. Oddly, I have no recollection of any vegetables or salads but do remember fruit...half an apple or an orange and available at every lunch.

    Never did see the like of those ice cream sandwiches again, tho!!

  • ladypat1
    12 days ago

    I was in grade school in the 50's. School lunches were a nightmare for me. The principal would not release you until you ate some of everything. Most was really bad, and I was not a picky eater. SO mom packed a lunch for me in grade school, and then I ate school lunch in Jr. high and high school. No open lunches back then. Never anything green, always canned corn with no seasonings. And lots of canned plums. And peas. Only good things were cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls with real butter, and a peanut butter bar/sheet cake that was amazing.

  • marilyn_c
    12 days ago

    I usually took my lunch when I was in elementary school. I lived just 3 blocks from school, so when I was older, I went home for lunch. Sometimes I invited friends to go with me, especially after I started dating Jody, and I knew my mother would be frying shrimp. (They still tell me how much they enjoyed that).


    I had a job in high school, working at the Malt Shop, and it was between my house and the school, so sometimes I would go there. The lady I worked for would let me fix my own hamburger, because it saved time.


    One of the cafeteria ladies was my mother's friend, and she would let me know when they had fried chicken and I would eat at school on those days.

  • Kathsgrdn
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    I did forget to mention I went to school in the 60s and 70s, graduating high school in 1980. Someone mentioned sloppy joes, and now I do remember those too. They were okay.


    I really want some of that square pizza or rice and beef today.

  • maire_cate
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    In grades 1 - 8 I was considered a 'walker' which meant walking home for lunch every day. Every now and then if we were having a heavy snowstorm (which seldom closed the schools in those days) my Mom would send us off with a sandwich so that we didn't have to trudge home at noon.

    In high school I usually brown bagged it and only ate cafeteria food if I liked what was offered that day. My all-girls high school was small with only 360 students so there wasn't much choice at lunch. And the nuns stood there as you went through the line and made sure you sampled everything and heaven forbid if you tried to trash anything. We also learned to hide things in napkins or the empty milk carton. Fridays were always pizza. They had cutesy names for some meals but the only one I remember was 'Pennies from Heaven' - cut up hot dogs with baked beans.

  • nickel_kg
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    My school lunch (1960s/70s): sandwich of some kind (peanut butter and chocolate chip was a favorite, as was potato and butter, sometimes using a waffle instead of bread, once in a while tuna or egg salad or a leftover meat). Carrots sticks or grapes or celery sticks or apple slices. Three little home-made cookies. In elementary school I'd also have milk money wrapped and tied in the corner of a handkerchief. On Fridays, the lunch ladies made cinnamon rolls so mom would give me an extra nickel to buy a cinnamon roll. I've never ever had a cinnamon roll as good those lunch ladies made, and I've tried many.

    Much the same lunch for middle and high school except no milk money, cool kids drank water. I think I might have bought lunch a handful of times in 12 years.

    Just a few weeks ago, the local tv station reported about some school lunches that were so bad they were inedible. But the reporting was sloppy I honestly couldn't tell you if the kids or the parents started the complaint, or what the actual "bad" food was, or if the food/snacks provided by the parents to replace the school meal was any better or any worse. Really remarkably lousy reporting.

  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio
    12 days ago

    I can't remember about the first 3 grades, except that I do remember having one of those metal lunch boxes so I guess I carried lunch - at least once in a while (I really can't imagine my mother making lunches for us every day). New school in 4th-7th grades; I only remember sloppy joes, Jo Mazotti, and an oatmeal cake that I loved; maybe fish or mac & cheese on Fridays?; but I did like the food.

    Jr/Sr High school, we did buy lunches at first (once again, I don't remember the food served) but all of a sudden, in my sophomore year, my mother started packing our lunches. She would make sandwiches for the week and freeze them - pulled from the freezer each day, they would stay cool until lunchtime. I was particularly fond of cream cheese and Buddig pastrami so she made a lot of those for me. Now I figure that she was squirreling away the money she saved from the household budget by packing lunches instead of having us buy.

  • Jeb zone 5
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    This brings back memories! The food served for school lunches was all fairly bad, but at the time I thought it was a treat - at least it was a change from the egg salad or peanut butter sandwiches my mother usually made for me to bring in my lunch box.

    I attended elementary school in the mid 60s and early 70s, the milk we got for lunch was always in these little glass bottles from a local dairy. The tops were covered with a paper and foil cap. When we were done drinking the milk we would slide the bottles to the end of the table trying not to break them. We weren't always successful! Years later the dairy was converted to office space where I worked and these crates and bottles that I drank from were in a shed out back - - - I asked permission to take them and the owner said take all that you want, and I am glad I did, the building they were in was torn down soon after with everything still left in it.

    Can you imagine giving these bottles to school children to drink from these days?



  • wildchild2x2
    12 days ago

    I came home for lunch everyday from the 1st through the 5th grade. We also had a finish it all principal roaming the cafeteria. I would get so tensed over it I couldn't eat anything. My mother told him to leave me alone. When he continued she decided I would just eat at home.

    With overcrowding in schools I went to Junior High a year early where they had one sixth grade class for the overflow. We had a choice of a hot lunch in the cafeteria or we could get a boxed lunch or a bagged lunch to eat outdoors. Everything was made by the lunch ladies. The boxed lunch was a hamburger, potato salad, a piece of cheese, orange quarters and a cookie. The bag lunch was similar except it had a different sub sandwich each day. I loved their tuna and always got the bag lunch on those days. The hot lunches were mostly good. Great fried chicken, and they had roast beef or turkey in gravy over mashed potatoes which would rival diner food. The only difference was the meat was cut into large chunks for easier serving similar to stew cut meat. We had a snack bar where you could buy candy bars, chips, ice cream and things like that also. The nearby high school was similar in their offerings.

    I went to a different high school for my last two years. Food was so good. Similar to the first high school but lunch hours were extended since we were on a modular system of classes. You ate when you had a break. I think lunch was available from 10:45 until a little after 1:00. Best was in the morning the snack window was open with huge fresh baked cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate available.

  • bpath
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    None of my suburban schools provided lunch! If you rode the bus, you brought a lunch box. If you didn’t ride the bus, you went home for lunch. I loved going home for lunch.

    If you ate lunch at grade school, you brought a lunch box and ate at your desk. In middle school there was a multi-purpose room with tables that folded out from the walls. In high school, the stainless kitchen and lunch lines were still there but not in use. The lunch room was big, though, with lots of windows. Not a bad place to hang out. There were vending machines but I think they were more for snacks and drinks.

    My lunches at home were usually a sandwich, maybe leftovers, carrots etc, soup, milk. Later, our lunch bags were pretty much the same, and occasionally had concoctions like ”Shake-A-Pudding” and space food sticks (awful-tasting but we felt so cool and space-age).

    In grade school they had ”hot dog day” a few times a year, where for 35 cents you got a hot dog, chips, a cookie, and milk. But, I was so shy and a creature of habit, and staying at school for lunch those days, and then half an hour of recess, was torture for me. Finally I understood that it was NOT REQUIRED and didn’t participate anymore.

    My older son went to school in the same district. By that time, ”hot dog day” had become ”special lunch” at least monthly, from McDonalds, Outback, etc. Hot sandwich, chips, and soda pop of all things. and dessert. DS started asking me to send him off with supplemental carrot and celery sticks, water, and a clementine, too. (My healthy boy!) Finally i asked him if he enjoyed the ”special lunch” and he said ”you mean it’s NOT REQUIRED?” and he stopped partaking lol!

    I used to love stories that mentioned kids having lunch with an actual hot-lunch cafeteria at school. It seemed so exotic to me!

  • roxanna7
    12 days ago

    Back in the days of the dinosaurs (1950s), and having very limited family funds to buy school lunches, we took ours from home in small brown paper bags. Usually PB&J (way before the allergy business -- when/why/HOW did peanut butter become so pernicious???). Or baloney. Sometimes tuna. Rinse and repeat. Yep, waxed paper wrapped, as plastic sandwich bags had yet to come on the scene. This was in elementary and Jr.High (7th & 8th).


    High school was in a brand-new building with a cafeteria. Still brown-bagged it, as money for lunch was not feasible for five kids very often. I begged to buy the school's homemade chicken fricassee with mashed potatoes (delish!) or the English muffins with cheese and tomato on one side, cheese & bacon on the other. Mom managed to find the 25 cents now and then... Gad knows what today's school lunch price is.


    At least the school lunches were more like family dinner as to what was offered then, and far better nutrition-wise than what I now see offered in my grandkids' schools -- so much "fast" food type of stuff -- pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc. The only thing I recall back in the days of my youthful school lunches that I loathed was Harvard beets (an abominable method of treating beets, IMHO, lol)



  • Rusty
    12 days ago

    Looks like I'm the oldest one posting here so far. I graduated in 1957.

    Grades 1-3 I went to a one room school, had grades 1 to 6 in it, that was a mile from my house, and I walked it, carried my lunch. Walked it, regardless of weather. I do remember one winter day when the snow plow came along just as we (my mother often walked with me on bad weather days) were starting out, and he gave us a ride to the school, that was exciting for a 7 YO! When I reached the 4th grade, they divided the one room schools so that grades 1-3 were in one and 4-6 in another. That was far enough from home that I had to ride a bus. And I still carried my lunch. I honestly don't remember much about my lunches, except they were usually a sandwich and milk in a thermos. Sometimes a couple of cookies, or maybe a piece of fruit of some sort. Sandwich was usually meat of some sort, or egg salad. We lived on a farm and most of our food was what we produced on the farm.

    Junior high was in town, again, rode the bus. Jr. high and high school were all in the same building, I don't remember there being a cafeteria, I know I still carried my lunch from home. I think about the time I was in the 9th or 10th grade, a new high school had been built, and that had a cafeteria. I don't remember much about any of the food that was served, except students went through a line, and servers dished up each plate as they came through. I think there were usually two main dishes the student could choose from. A couple of my friends and I often worked in the cafeteria, serving the students then helping with the dish washing, etc., in return for our lunch. All the food was prepared there, on site. So I either carried my lunch from home or worked in the cafeteria for it.

    Rusty

  • HU-583819518
    12 days ago

    Rusty, what a novel idea, kids working for something special.


  • chisue
    12 days ago

    Grammar School -- Neighbors and I walked (later biked) 8 blocks to school, home and back for lunch, home after school. Very few working moms in my school district in the years immediately after WWII. (I bet teachers today would prefer this arrangement, giving everyone an hour to decompose.) We also had recess at least once a day.


    Junior High -- This school was 8 blocks in another direction, but no one went home. No cafeteria lunches; bag lunches from home. Free white or chocolate milk in cartons. Ice cream cups for a nickel.


    High School -- Huge township school (900+ in my class). Cafeteria open early and late to accommodate the split shifts we were on my last two years. (Now there are three big campuses.)


    What I ate...I have no idea, although I remember the steam table smell. Regardless of what it was, it was our job to complain. A fat kid was rare. Eyeglasses were rare, too. (Look at your class pictures, if you still have them.)

  • Kathsgrdn
    Original Author
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    Bpath, I remember Space Food sticks now that you mentioned them. I actually liked them.


    The second school I went to in San Pedro, the cafeteria was outside

  • hounds_x_two
    12 days ago

    I ate in the school cafeteria 1st-12th grades, 1955-1967. I remember that hamburgers were always disappointing. Hey! No way a school cafeteria can compete with Whataburger!

    Enchiladas, beans and rice were wonderful.

  • marilyn_c
    12 days ago

    I remember that school lunches were 35 cents. When I was a senior, I was working at the Malt Shop after school and weekends, and saving every penny....including the 35 cents that my mother gave me every day to buy my lunch. When I saved up $100, I bought another horse. I also managed to buy my own clothes, putting them on layaway at a shop called Lerner's.

  • Bookwoman
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    I have no memory of what the food was like, only that as seniors (1975) we were allowed to smoke in the cafeteria and buy one 6 oz. bottle of Coke. I never smoked, but I did enjoy the Coke!

  • roxsol
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    I never stayed at school over the lunch hour until grade 10. We had a school cafeteria in highschool, that I never ate at. And yes, we were allowed to smoke in the cafeteria. We called it The Pit. I never went there.

    From Grade 1 to Grade 9, we walked home for lunch, about 6 blocks, no matter the weather. (LOL, I’m pretty sure it was uphill both ways, too)

    I never rode a school bus. I didn’t know anyone who did. (about 1963-1975)

  • eld6161
    12 days ago

    I never bought school lunch. I went home for lunch or brought a bag lunch.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    Elementary school- I recall alternating/rotating between the cafeteria and a brown bag lunch. My mother made pretty good lunches but I like the variety.

    Jr High- I learned after just a few months it wasn't considered cool to eat in the cafeteria so social animal me stopped eating there. There was an alternative to buy lunch, windows outside like a counter at a stadium that was called the "hash line". Limited choices to replace bringing your own lunch. The windows were manned by uppergrade students who got a free lunch for doing the work. I remember the limited offerings included bologna sandwiches, hamburgers, chips, and cookies. There was also an outdoor fruit vending machine nearby that had fruit, whether apples or large organges, that seemed to always be good. I again alternated between buying and bringing what my mother would prepare for me.

    High School - Just a hash line. I usually got lunch from that and rarely brought it from home.

    Only my elementary school would have been close enough to go home to lunch from but all schools were closed campuses and leaving was never permitted.

    I'm a bit surprised by the comment about having diverted lunch money for a different purpose, it seems more than a bit dishonest to me. I think if either of my parents had learned I took money given to me for lunch and used it for something else, I would have experienced unfortunate consequences.

  • roxsol
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    In highschool, I had to make my own lunch at home to take to school. Or I could buy my lunch with my own money. Sometimes I went to the store with friends and bought junk food. I usually brought a piece of fruit or something really simple from home. My mom and dad didn’t give us money to buy lunch.

    I liked playing volley ball in the gym during lunchtime, mostly.

  • Elizabeth
    12 days ago

    I never ever took tuna or egg salad sandwiches to school for lunch. No refrigeration was available and they stunk by lunchtime.

  • HU-144972567
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    The elementary school I went to from K (half-day) though 3rd grade did not have a cafeteria. Kids went home for lunch. After we moved, that school had a 'cafetorium', but it was just the gym with tables; no food was served. Jr High was at a brand new school, but I never had hot lunch. By my last year in Jr. High my sandwich was always in a plastic sandwich box. in a paper bag. A favorite was cream cheese and olives. In high school I think I only had hot lunch several times and really liked the "American Chop Suey", a pasta-hamburg dish with an unfortunate name. Although older than the poster with glass milk bottles, even in both elementary schools, we would have a daily milk break at our desks and had cardboard milk cartons. The earlier school's cartons had punch holes for the straw which were sometimes hard to open.

  • amylou321
    12 days ago

    I went to he same Catholic private school K-12. My mom packed my lunch for the first couple years of school, and they were laden with comfort things because starting school was fairly traumatic for me. When I started buying lunches they were pretty good. I remember the spaghetti and bread they served in elementary school. It was a favorite. We got a choice of regular or chocolate milk. I always got chocolate. By middle school, the quality of the hot meals went kind of downhill. I remember in the morning hey would take a tally. Who wanted the regular "hot lunch" and who wanted a salad bar and baked potato. We had that option daily. I loved the baked potato and salad bar combo. There were lots of toppings. Lunch in middle in high school came with (just in case we forgot we were in the south) sweet tea. And it was in a room with lots of vending machines to augment as we chose.

  • arcy_gw
    11 days ago

    I spent First-third grade at Hollman AFB in New Mexico. We were served enchiladas that were to die for. I am still chasing the flavor of those enchiladas. I have yet to find the ingredient that meets that memory. FF to the year I was teaching in small town MN and found they served breakfast as lunch once a week or so--French toast/pan cakes etc. BLEW MY MIND. School lunch was food adults told us to eat so we did. The same way I ate what my mom served for breakfast and supper. Choice was not a part of the equation.

  • marilyn_c
    11 days ago

    Yes, Elmer. I was an incorrigible thug when I was in high school. Saving my lunch money to buy a horse. How dishonest of me. My parents obviously cared little about me for that to go unnoticed.

  • functionthenlook
    11 days ago

    Marilyn, I was a thug also. I saved my lunch money and allowance for months to buy my boyfriend (now hubby) a watch for a special occasion.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    11 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    Of course you thought it was okay, it's what you decided to do. There are other ways to look at it. It's not a big deal.

    An allowance is money to spend as the recipient chooses. "Here's $X for what you'll need for Y" is different. The money is returned if not spent for the intended purpose.

  • roxsol
    11 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    This was a pretty interesting thread.

    I am amazed at how many did not go home for lunch.

    While I was in elementary school our local TV station ran a half hour noon program ”Buckshot and Benny”. We had enough time to go home, eat lunch and watch the show.

    In junior high, we had enough time to go home, eat lunch and change into another outfit. 👗

    To get to my junior highschool, I had to cross a small suspension bridge. The boys would hide in the bushes at both ends, wait for a few girls to get to the middle of the bridge, run out and start bouncing the bridge. It was great fun!



    Elbow River foot bridge.

    The floods took it out in 2013☹️

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    11 days ago

    "I am amazed at how many did not go home for lunch."

    My grade school was about a mile away, junior high a mile further away than that. Just not practical to go home for lunch. High school - the only one that offered a bus - was at the opposite end of town and away from anywhere easy to get to for lunch. It wasn't until you could drive and have use of a car that you could leave campus for lunch.

  • roxsol
    11 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    Gardengal, my husband said he never went home for lunch as he grew up on a farm. Yes, it would have been much too far to walk.

  • Kathsgrdn
    Original Author
    11 days ago

    Until high school I lived too far away from school to go home for lunch. However, only rode a school bus in grade school and part of jr. high when we first moved to Fallon, NV. The base was pretty far from town. When I lived in San Pedro the school was pretty far away from home and we walked back and forth, but would have been too far to go home for lunch.

  • nickel_kg
    11 days ago

    Even 'walkers' at my schools were not supposed to leave the school grounds at all during the day, only when the first dismissal bell rang. By the time I got to high school, older kids were allowed to leave before the end of the day with their parent's permission. Mostly these kids had cars and after-school jobs.

    Unlike my DD's experience 30 years later, we were allowed plenty of time for lunch -- maybe 45 minutes, if I remember correctly. Plenty of time to eat, socialize, and study at the last minute for afternoon tests. DD had 20 minutes -- kids that had to wait in line to buy their lunches barely had time to scarf anything down. Silly.

  • cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)
    11 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    At my elementary school (50s-early 60s), we had real home-cooked meals cooked in the school kitchen. They were delicious, but my favorite was the vegetable soup with PB&J day. I wish I could make such a good soup-it really was amazing. Now, schools only heat up lunches (at least in Fairfax County, VA where I taught) that come from some central distribution center. Not even close to what I had.


    ETA: In high school and middle school it was the same. I don't remember specifics from M.S., but I went to a private school for high school and we had a lovely dining room (main building was an old home before it became a school) and home-cooked lunches that were again delicious and really quite nutritious.

  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7
    11 days ago

    This thread has been a fun read (with the exception of Elmer's uncalled for comments) and a sweet trip down memory lane. We had a cafeteria in elementary school but I don't remember meals being served there, just milk or fruit. Lunches were brought from home, wrapped in wax paper or served hot in a thermos. Mother always packed some sort of fruit or treats, too.


    In junior high, we experienced the cafeteria food for the first time and I have to say it was pretty darned good! My siblings and former classmates all agree wholeheartedly and reminisce fondly about the homemade soups, pot roast, chili, chicken and dumplings. Their deserts were unreal; it was torture as the aroma of homemade gingerbread, apple pie, or chocolate chip cookies wafted through the halls in the late morning.


    I was close enough to walk home for lunch in high school and sometimes took friends home for grilled cheese and tomato soup. Occasionally, I took my tray to the art room, my home-away-from-home, where a little collection of like minded classmates gathered for our meal.


    After lunch, we played music and danced in the halls, great fun.




  • PRO
    My Biz
    11 days ago

    My 4th and 5th grade Grands have free school lunches again this year. For everyone. It's a Covid paid program (our tax dollars.) They usually bring theirs from home again this year. Healthier and what they like.

  • littlebug zone 5 Missouri
    11 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    I started school in 1960. My family was very poor and so qualified for free lunches. Everybody had to have their lunch ticket punched in the lunch line. Kids who bought their tickets had pink tickets, but free-lunch tickets were yellow. I was embarrassed to bring out my yellow ticket to be punched every day. WTH was it necessary to give different color tickets??

    But aside from that, I loved school lunches. Much better and healthier food than we got at home. I especially loved the fish sticks on Fridays. I had never had fish before.

  • Kathsgrdn
    Original Author
    11 days ago

    The kids here have free lunches too, due to covid. They aren't very good though. Even when my kids went to school they were awful. I remember attempting to eat a semi warm/partly cold chicken patty once when I went to eat with my daughter at school one time years ago. The high school isn't much better based on what the kids have told me over the years. It's kinda sad.

  • sjerin
    10 days ago

    Gardengal, it kind of sounds like we went to the same schools. :) I grew up in the Portland area and rarely "got" to buy hot lunch--yes, 35 cents--but boy, oh boy, when I was allowed to choose one lunch a month it was always spaghetti and cinnamon rolls. The recipe for those suckers was in the Oregonian once and I'm sure I or my mom cut it out, but it's long gone. They were delish.