Monthly Archives: September 2012

I really liked the stainless steel bento box; every one we had. “Had” because each of them has met an unpleasant end. Turns-out, if your backpack is unzipped and your metal box bounces down the stairwell, the lid is not going to fit correctly anymore; and, even with your name painted on the bottom, you can still lose it. This year, we have new  Food Boxes.

So far they are working-out pretty well. (I have my fingers crossed as I write this) The new box is from a Camp Outfitter. The box is ridged plastic – the microwavable type, though I never put ANY plastic in a microwave oven.

The ‘microwavable” distinction is important because all the really bad chemicals that turn up in plastic are not used in microwavable containers. It’s made of Polypropylene. It’s BPA-free and completely recyclable. The cost is under $10 – good, because without a gps chip, it can become permanently lost, and replacing it will be far less most bento boxes.

At 5″x 2″x 6.2″, I wish it were just a little larger. Cascadian makes a larger box (6.2″x 3″x 7.8″) – but at nearly 8″ long, I think I’d find it too large.

My family does not participate in the school lunch program. This does not mean that the foods served at our school don’t matter much to me – they do. My children are members of a school community, the students in their school are their playmates and friends; at times their confidants and supporters. We care very much.

I believe the new federal guidelines have improved the quality and variety of foods served in our elementary school. My kids told me about the fruit and vegetable bar, and I was eager to see it for myself. On the day I visited, the fruit was canned and not optional, vegetables were available from the “bar”. While the container of chick peas appeared untouched, I was pleased to see the tossed lettuce salad was popular. Not surprising to me, the container of broccoli “trees” was nearly empty. Yay!

Yes, at James Monroe Elementary the new food is appreciated by parents and kids. I was interested to know how other communities feel about the changes and found that not everyone is as pleased as I am. Complaints include the meals are too small, and some entrees are not well liked. I think the upside is that kids have options; they can load-up on fruits and/or veggies from the self-serve bar.

So it seems I’m a defender. I hope everyone can keep in mind that the program is new. It is entirely possible that feedback – both positive and negative will be reflected in the 2013/2014 program.

Have you noticed changes in your school’s lunch program? Would you like to share your observations? Please leave a sentence or two in the comment space. I’m very interested in the opinions of other parents…and kids.

“People in the U.S. are placing more value on the food they eat and how it’s grown.” Local Harvest

I don’t always buy organic; I’d like to, but at times it’s just too limiting. I remind myself that the availability of local/organic foods has grown…a lot. In 2002 when my son was born, the organic section of my local grocery store did not exist. There has been a steady increase of organic, and now “local” is making a mark in the aisles of supermarkets. I’m patient. I think if an idea grows steady and slowly, it will have staying power.

Admittedly, there are times when I need to hear that I’m part of a larger community; that there are people, a lot of people, who value and believe in sustainable local agriculture.

Erin Barnett, Director Local Harvest wrote about a growing shift toward healthier foods.

Dairy gets the top spot for a few reasons: cows on organic farms eat fresh grass, so their milk is higher in healthy amino acids. Eating organic milk and dairy products also allows us – and our children – to avoid pesticide residues which make their way from the cows’ grain to the milk, and dodges the infamous rBGH (bovine growth hormone). If organic dairy is outside your budget, you would do well to look for products labeled “rBGH free.”

After dairy, Riddle recommends making sure that fruits and vegetables that are consumed raw and not peeled are organic.

No one should feel they have to eat organic/local foods all the time. All movement toward healthier foods is moving forward.

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