Lunch Time at School, what’s in a school lunch?

Recently I bumped into some photo series about school lunches around the world kind of like this one.  They had interesting pictures of what is included in school lunches in other countries.  Since my kids have never been in school in the US< I have idea what the state of school lunches these days is.  I do know that even when I was in school (and processed foods were a tad harder to come by), they weren’t bastions of nutritional greatness.  Then today a friend who teaches at a school in town posted a picture of her lunch.  It was a rice dish with some lovely meat and potato sauce, coupled with stir fry.  She also posted a picture of the lunch line.  It got me thinking about school lunches.

In Jordan, schools don’t typically have cafeterias in the American sense.  They have open courtyards.  The kids either bring lunch or purchase a sandwich from a kiosk.  To be fair, though, most kids actually eat lunch at home.  My kids were the odd balls because they weren’t having breakfast (at 10 am like the rest of their classmates).  They ate breakfast before heading to school.  And the later break (usually 11:30 or so) was lunch for them.  So, instead of kiosk-driven food or a small snack, my kids took PB&J sandwiches, and grape leaves, and mansaf.  The looks they got (and the conversations I had with a particular teacher who seemed to think that she should direct my daughter on what she could/could not bring (no string cheese, no macaroni and cheese, etc.) were legendary.  And then we moved.

Here, peanut butter is outlawed due to children with nut allergies.  Sigh.  So they take other things.  Now they also have a cafeteria that prepares lovely food fresh daily.  Still they typically take their lunches, but they do clamor to buy lunch on fish days.  This is especially true on the days they’re serving grilled fish.  For a snapshot into these lunches, here’s the menu for three of the days this week:

Day One

Tomato Soup

Chicken Shawarma (live cooking)

Creamy mac n cheese

Baked potato

Roast vegetables


Bread roll

Day Two

Minestrone Soup

Fish tagine

Freshly made hamburger

Potato wedges

Sauteed cabbage


Bread roll

Day Three

Lentil Soup

Butter chicken

Stir friend beef

Vegetable rice

Broccoli & Carrot

Banana Custard

Bread roll

Now I don’t know about you, but we never had soup served at school.  And choice for main wasn’t between butter chicken or stir-fried beef, it was between pizza and burgers.  None of it was freshly prepared.  We were always happy on spaghetti day.  And vegetables were definitely from a very large can.  The other thing that I really like about the school is that they offer a salad bar.  So, if the kids aren’t into the meals, they can always get either a side salad or a lunch salad.  How awesome is that?  So, although my kids rarely eat the prepared food in the cafeteria (we’re much more likely to send left-overs to be warmed in the bank of microwaves (again, hot food from home!), if they do need to eat at school I know the choices will be healthy, tasty, and a relatively inexpensive $4.10.  It makes me wonder, what would they be having if we were in the US?


One thought on “Lunch Time at School, what’s in a school lunch?

  1. Nothing nearly as good as that! I eat with my students at the elementary school when I substitute teach. They seem to really like to give them the baby raw carrots these days. VERY FEW of my students will eat them. That goes in the trash. I have recently been given a corn dog. (Wasn’t very good, believe me), there are often fries – not fresh, probably frozen-heated, sometimes a whole apple (good but hard to eat in 20 minutes if you’re eating anything else). Just not a very good selection nor combinations. They are often told you can have ___ or ____. When that is the case, most of the time one of the selections goes in the garbage. I’ve even been seeing cartons of milk unopened, going in the garbage. You can try to give them the right foods, but they often won’t take them or eat them. Discouraging!

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