the art of the school lunch

The Art Of Packing A School Lunch

I’m not sure if it’s still true today, but those little meals you carried to school were more than just nourishment, they were a status symbol. We judged each other not only on the contents but the method in which you carried it

My mother secretly kept Little Debbie snack cakes in the washing machine. With five kids in the house, she had to find “hidey holes” for school lunch items or there would be nothing left. She confidently and correctly decided that none of her children would ever think to open the washing machine.

I’m not sure if it’s still true today, but those little meals you carried to school were more than just nourishment, they were a status symbol. We judged each other not only on the contents but the method in which you carried it:

  • · A little paper bag might be acceptable if you don’t have a Holly Hobbie lunchbox (Holly Hobbie was IT in our day).
  • · What is your sandwich made of? Bologna or PB&J was acceptable – as long as it was on Wonder Bread.
  • · Pudding cups, little bags of chips, and Little Debbie snack cakes were cool and tradeable.
  • · You were cool if your drink was in the cute little matching Holly Hobbie thermos, or you could grab a little carton of school chocolate milk.
IMAGINE MY LITTLE KINDERGARTEN MORTIFICATION WHEN I OPENED MY SCHOOL LUNCH EVERY DAY AND...
  • · My lunch came in whatever my mom could find to put it in. A giant paper bag that came from the grocery store or one of my dad’s metal lunchboxes!
  • · No Wonder Bread here. My homemade bread sandwich would be made from last night’s roast beef.
  • · If chips were on the menu, they came in those little fold-over sandwich bags (Ziplocs weren’t invented yet).
  • Cookies were homemade.
  • Little tin fruit cups were a possibility.
  • Occasionally God smiled on me and I got a Little Debbie snack cake.
  • ·No Holly Hobbie thermos for me. I tried to drink the chocolate milk to be cool but secretly hated it.

Obviously, today I’m grateful I never went hungry. My mom was an excellent cook and these days I would love to have a slice of her homemade bread! I’m confident she told 5-year-old me to quit whining and be thankful for what I had, but what 5-year-old trying to be cool wants to hear that?

Fast forward to junior high. We had an open campus for lunch every single day so we’d walk to my friend’s house to eat. We made Oscar Mayer bologna sandwiches on Wonder Bread with mayo, mustard, and crisp iceberg lettuce. I was in heaven!

In high school, I had a friend whose mom would make giant meatballs. We’d walk to her house for lunch, slice up that meatball and make the best sandwiches – on soft Wonder Bread. Again, heaven in a sandwich for 15-year-old me.

Today, Wonder Bread is the last thing I’d consider heaven in a sandwich. Homemade bread is a delicacy, not a torture test. Chips and Little Debbie’s are rarely indulged. As we grow up, our tastes change, but often, we carry on the same patterns of living. In The Art of Living, are we giving thanks for what we have and celebrating with everyone around the table (Instead of worrying about what is in our symbolic “school lunch box” or the container it is in)?

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, and I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 1 Corinthians 13:11


Veloris is a mother and grandmother. Her and her husband, Rich, own and operated Shady Acre Motel just down the road from Silver Dollar City near Branson, MO. She is the writer for our Editorial column, The Art of Living. You can read all her posts here.

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