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.

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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.

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Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!

I imagine this is the sound of rabbits eating my garden.
All through the month of June my son has been choosing one book more often than any other: “Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!.” It is possible he is trying to persuade me that my struggle with the bunnies, who are devouring my peas and carrots, is futile – and until I “get” the message inside this book, I’m going to be asked to read it again, and again?

It’s also possible that as I read, I give extra emphasis and drama to the words spoken by poor Mr. McGreely.  I can certainly relate. As McGreely endeavors to regain control of his garden, confident and hopeful McGreely is out-witted by three tiny bunnies. With each new barrier; two fences, a trench, and a high brick wall, Mr. McGreely’s self-congratulatory phrases become more amusing. Each time the bunnies thwart his efforts, and pause for giggles.

As the wooden wall goes up, Mr McGreely boasts:
“Those flop-ears will never get over it….
no bunny can get into my garden now!”

Grins and giggles all around as I turn the page; we know, as
“The sun went down. And the moon came up…”
The bunnies were not deterred.

I like this book as a read-to-self book for very early readers. Kids build reading confidence, as nearly every page has repeating phrases and rhymes. I hope your children enjoy it as much as mine.

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming and G.Brian Karas

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