A Dad’s Opinion of Public School Lunch

Every year, my wife and I try to have lunch with our kids at their school on their birthdays. We bring a special meal for our kids to enjoy and spend the time talking and enjoying one another.

This year, for my son’s birthday, I decided to take a different approach and try a meal from the school cafeteria (I still bought my son his special meal).

I grabbed a tray and proceeded to enter the serving line. As I approached the lunch lady, I felt like a grade school boy again.

“Hot dog or pizza?” She asked. “Pizza, please,” I said. The lunch lady cut out a modest slice and placed it on my styrofoam plate.

“Do you want vegetables?” she asked (the fact that she asked makes me think that many kids opt-out of the vegetables).

“Of course,” I said pointing to the steaming tray of mixed vegetables. She placed the food on my plate and directed me to the fruit and salad station.

“You get a salad and one piece of fruit,” she said.

I moved down the line, grabbed a small garden salad, a slice of watermelon and a bottle of water.  By this time, a crowd of elementary students had piled in behind me. I slid my tray towards the cashier and proceeded to pay.

“That’ll be $2.75,” she said. I pulled out three wrinkled bills and handed them to her. Three bucks for a hot meal wasn’t too bad.

When I sat down at the table with my son, he was perplexed.

“Daddy, are you really going to eat that?” he asked.

“Yes, I am,” I said. “Don’t you eat it?”

“Yeah, I do,” he said. “But grown-ups usually don’t.”

I must admit that I didn’t have high expectations for the food’s quality. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste. It wasn’t a four-star meal, but it was much better than the lunches I had when I was a kid.

My son’s school does a good job of preparing made-from-scratch, healthy meals. They have a selection of five entree salads, fresh fruit and a variety of meal choices to accommodate various dietary restrictions. I was also pleased to see that they offered water as an alternative to milk (my son is lactose intolerant) instead of sugary drinks.

Although the public school lunch program still needs to make many improvements, my son’s school district seems to going down the right path.

Stay Strong,

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Question: Have you ever tried the lunch at your child’s school? If so, what was your impression?

P.S. – While I was eating, the lunchroom manager approached me and asked if there was a problem. I told her everything was okay. She said that she was worried because she saw me taking pictures. I assured her that I was not an inspector, only a blogger.

About author

Frederick J. Goodall

Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at or on Twitter at

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