Hey lunch lady, I'm really not crazy about the choices I have today. They're a tad better than yesterday (I can see that the chicken patties today aren't swimming in grease like the hamburgers were) but geez, it would be nice to have a choice that didn't take a month off my life or add an extra three pounds to my hips. Choices for today's menu seem to be a breaded chicken patty sandwich or some sort of weird casserole with hashbrowns and brown stuff--maybe meat? beef?-- mixed in. I'm gonna have to choose the chicken patty sandwich, but you already knew that, didn't you, since the last five kids have passed up that weird hash brownie thing. Okay, on to the sides. This is my favorite part because of the offer versus serve policy. Oh, I know that I have to make it until three today on the food I eat and it's only ten right now (just my luck that my group has first lunch shift @@) but at least I don't have to have any crap on my plate that both of us know I won't eat. Hmmm, let's see...my choices...aha! French fries! I thought I saw those yesterday too. Actually, who am I kidding? They're one of the great standbys here. Okay, what else is there...some kind of wilty cooked carrot coins. Did those come from a can or were they frozen, do you know? Can? Industrial sized for sure...never eaten that at my house before. And hmmm...oh, every kid's favorite fruit, pineapple. Ugh. I'll take the fries and pass on the other two.
On to the drinks...oh yes! The classics that I remember my parents talking about! The cartons of milk. What should I choose...there's so many! There's the red (whole--my mom doesn't give us that either), the blue (that one is skim and tastes like milk-flavored water), and then there's the great compromise! The one percent CHOCOLATE milk!!! Yes! Gimme one of those. I love it. It's even better than the grape juice I drank this morning with my sausage and egg biscuit.
Okay, punch in my number. Does the government know about this part? Do they track what I'm eating? Oh, I get it. They just track that I am eating a lunch on their dime. Gotcha. Well, I guess if you want to call it a lunch.
Sit down with my friends. Let's review--chicken patty sandwich, fries, and chocolate milk. Oh yeah, there's that salad bar up there. I could get some real carrots from there if I have time. Oh stop it, Sasha, you know the lunch lady will make us all shut up if you're squishing the ketchup like that. Time, time...shoot...down to five minutes and I just sat down. How fast can I force this stuff down? Well, the chocolate milk should help. Geez, can't this kid stop asking me questions? I'm trying to eat here...still got a third of a sandwich and haven't touched the fries and I have three...no, two...minutes before I have to dump my plate. I realize it's not the healthiest meal but it's gonna be at least five hours before I eat again so I'd like to get something in me...
Chocolate milk. Sweetness for the soul. My mom was talking about the amount of unnecessary sugar in our foods and how too much sugar and processed foods contributes to diabetes. I am so not going to be a diabetic like my uncle. Anyway, everyone knows a kid deserves a treat like chocolate milk after working so hard in the morning. And I don't want to not eat anything, like that girl Trish over there...she's skinny as a post. Not crazy about the thickness in my belly even if my mom tells me it's baby fat. She doesn't know what I eat here anyway...she thinks I'm choosing salad. Ha. She's talked with me about good choices and I know she thinks I make them. I try but it's hard.
I asked her once if I could pack my own lunch and her face fell and she just looked sad, just for a minute, before shaking her head and explaining to me that she doesn't have the extra money right now to pay for breakfast and lunch for me and my little sister. Maybe once she got her raise, she said. That was before the economy tanked, as my social studies teacher says. At home we eat a lot of beans and rice, some fresh fruit and salads when the stuff is on sale. My mom says they're good for you and water's the best drink of all. I feel a little guilty drinking my chocolate milk, but it's not like I have extra money to go to the local fast food place after school with my friends--
Ugh. Lunch way over--dump the fries and the rest of my milk and head on back to class. I'm always tired in the afternoon and my classes later in the day are too hard. I hate having math late. I can't even concentrate. Too tired.
I can't wait to get home and eat some of the oatmeal my mom leaves for us.