Thursday, January 24, 2013

School Lunches

(another of my posts found under my Drafts)

Frieda has posted lately about one of her favorite desserts as a child in elementary school.Peanut Butter Bars.We had a similar dessert, which was my favorite in grade school,also,but without the oatmeal. I,like Frieda, had to take my lunch, except when I was old enough to work in the cafeteria, then I got free lunches.That was before they started the free lunch program for low income families. I would work for maybe an hour or two, helping the lunch ladies, then eat my lunch for free, with my class,when they came through the lunch line. Years later, I went on to work for the school system,with the same county in which I grew up. I retired from that job in 2005,after  27+ years of service.

I have saved many of the recipes we used before the schools went to their new programs. Now all of the baked goods are produced at a Central Baking Center. There are one or two schools which are centrally located in the county,that have all of the state of the art equipment, and they have a crew that comes in nights to do all of the baking for the entire county.Twenty plus schools.Then a truck loads the baked goods and delivers them to the schools by serving time, whether it be breakfast or lunch.Each school turns in a list of all of the baked goods they will need for the following month.The lists are all combined and the ladies know what they are scheduled to bake that night.Then they are separated and labeled per each schools requests.It is an amazing program, but since the lunch ladies at each school no longer did the baking, the recipes became obsolete at each school. Since I worked there so many years ago, I had access to some of the recipes, and,too, many of the same recipes have shown up in local cook books all over the country.School lunches get a lot of flack from many kids and their folks, but personally, I have always enjoyed the school meals. I guess if the truth be known, some folks are just plain spoiled and have never ever been truly hungry.

One of the programs our schools use is dealing with commodity foods. The schools are given many food items, furnished by the government.The schools have always had lots of support that way. The school then lines up big Name brand companies,like Tony's Pizza for example, and have them to utilize the government product that we supply from our school program, whatever it might be, and make it into their final product. Thus our kids get Tony's Pizza, at a lower price to our school. Many of the food items coming through our schools today have been processed by big companies in a similar manner. The spaghetti sauce, the chili base,
the sloppy joe, the barbeque, and many others come prepackaged in five pound packages. The lunch ladies only need to assemble the remaining ingredients to make the final dish.I have always been amazed at our county's School Lunch Program.We had one of the best programs going in that area. We had a great Director. She retired a year after I did, and she is now working in Washington,D.C., working with the school lunch programs nationwide.

Brendie, maybe she will get to visit New Zealand, one day, and give you all hope for your lunch programs there. You never know.

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