By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook
Pictures of school lunch in the past were usually a horror show. Rarely did you see anything you'd describe as "pretty." But look at this meal served in D.C. schools yesterday. It's obvious that the work our food services staff have been doing the last few months is paying off.
Intead of a desert of browns, we have a symphony of greens. The lasagna is so much more welcome than the re-heated chicken nuggets or "beef crumbles" of the past. (Note to Chartwells menu writers: We know this lasagna isn't "homemade." Please give a real descriptor, like what's in it.)
And look at the salad. Not that factory iceberg from California, but real Romaine lettuce with a creamy dressing. The peas don't look cooked to death, as the broccoli and carrots usually are. And most prominently we have a seasonal peach, and a "local" peach at that. It was picked at Crown Orchards in Batesville, Va., according to the D.C. Public Schools website.
(My daughter reported that what she got with her lunch was a nectarine and it was "great," though still a little hard.)
I'd be very curious to know whether this kind of meal is more expensive than what our schools were serving last year. The "Healthy Schools Act" passed recently by the D.C. Council allots 10 cents more for each breakfast and each lunch served, to be paid from sales taxes on sodas.
Now, not all of the kids were especially taken by the spinach lasagna. One little boy I noticed wouldn't touch it at all because it was "too green." And while the peas looked lovely, only a few of the kids were really digging into them. Vegetable side dishes are a tough sell in a school cafeteria. As much as adults would like kids to eat healthier foods, vegetables and whole grains are their least favorite.
Still, you'd be pressed to find a school meal that looked better than this. The kids were getting an eyeful of what real food made with care should look like. And all the kids were drinking plain milk--no more chocolate or strawberry here.
9 months ago