Recent Divine Discussions

Thursday, August 14, 2008

School Lunch vs Packing Lunch

To all my fellow mommies out there:

Is it better to pack your kid's lunch or let them get lunch at school?

I am on the fence with this one. My daughter starts school this coming Monday and I am not sure which one I want to go with.

On Monday I was set on letting her get her lunch from the school cafeteria, especially since I was told that I would need to set up a lunch account through the school. I called the company that handles the lunch accounts and based on what they said, I am not sure on the idea of it now. I would not have any control on what my daughter eats. Giving a 5 year old free reign on what exactly she gets to it is not a good idea. On top of that there is no way to control how much is charged to the account. If Sweet Pea wanted to buy 3 lunches and 10 snacks she could. The lunch account is charged via a card (like a debit card) and supposedly the teacher is given control of the cards. Not to sure I like this idea. I have no idea where the cards will be kept and who besides the teacher will have access to the card.

On the other hand I could pack her lunch and not have to worry about any of the above. I would be able to control what and how much she ate..........well not really but I would have way more control than going with school lunch.

Lets look at the $$ side of this:

Note: Sweet Pea will get her breakfast and an afternoon snack from her daycare so I don't need to include those in my calculations.

School lunch is $2. At $2/day that is $10 for the week. I can definitely do that or less by packing her lunch.

I am leaning towards packing her lunch myself. I just want to make sure I am not missing anything. I am new to this whole school business. Feel free to drop some knowledge or your opinion in the comment section.


HisHersMoney said...

Your daughter is going to want to "fit in" with her classmates. If most everyone buys their lunches then she's going to want to buy her lunch. If everyone brings their lunches then she's going to want to bring her lunch. While you don't want to get into the whole keeping up with the Jones thing, you also don't want to start her whole school social experience as being the odd girl out at lunch.

Ask her what she wants to do to start with, maybe ask the teacher what most kids normally do and go with it. I would suggest re-asking the question again after the first and second weeks to see if maybe she has changed her mind.

It seems doubtful that she would charge 10 lunches to the account each day. The biggest concern is making sure she likes the food and is getting a balanced meal.

My parents always went with the buy your lunch but all the cool kids brought their lunch I always wished I could have a yummy packed lunch that I could unpack with the cool kids.

{Kay Kay} said...

They watch the kids closely. Lunch at the elementary school level is ran very tight at most schools. They go through line (only allowed once) sit, eat, leave. There are people who specifically help them go through line and walk around the table monitoring the kids while they eat. The teacher won't let anything happen to those cards.

I agree with HisHers. My son was excited about being able to take his lunch. He took it for the first few days. Everyone else was buying lunch so after that he took it maybe 2 more times the whole year.

Plus school lunches are hearty, hot, and nutritious meals. So I agreed to let him buy lunch thinking its way better than a turkey sandwich I pack or pb&j or lunchable. You know he can eat and dinky sammich, chips, fruit, drink does not do the job! I ended up spending much more to FILL his lunchbox so he would be satisfied. I imagine 'Sweet Pea' will feel the same way unless u can find something filling that will last in a lunch box. That girl can eat. lol.

Melissa said...

I agree, if she wants to buy lunch with friends, she's going to want to regardless. Of course, my mom's rule growing up was I could choose one day a week to buy (usually pizza day was my choice) and the rest of the week she packed me lunch. Maybe you could try something like that at first and see how it goes?
Also, I nominated you for a blog award..

The Rauths said...

we don't have kids yet, but your post struck me because my parents dealt with the school lunch program really well, i think, when we were growing up. in elementary school, we were allowed to buy lunch once per week. we had to choose the day over the weekend so mom could grocery shop accordingly -- for some reason, we always bought the breakfast for lunch! anyhow, in middle school, we were given $5 per week and were allowed to spend it as we wished -- breakfast burrito, lunch or a snack on the walk home -- it was our choice. i do recall that my parents always asked what we bought (and of course, i figured out pretty early that i could save the money and buy something better than food at the end of the month!). anyhow, maybe a mix of both is good for kids. i think nutrition is important but i also think teaching kids responsibility (whether that's helping pack lunch or choosing healthy selections at school), it's good to teach kids from a young age about nutritional responsibility. plus, it is a really great memory from my childhood-- buying that hot lunch once per week and being able to get frozen yogurt on my walk home with friends if i wanted. good luck!

Anonymous said...

I am new to your blog but I thought that I would comment because I am in the same situation as you are! What I have found with my kids (6 & 7) are that they enjoy eating lunch at school because they are offered a wide variety as opposed to the limited number of foods I can pack. They also enjoy "hot" lunches. As far as not having any control over what they eat, this is true; but it is highly doubtful that they will get 15 desserts! The lunch crew is pretty helpful in ensuring that their meal is well balanced. Usually at lunch, after all the kids are served, there is a call for seconds. It is at this time the kids are allowed to go back through. Personally I would just play it by ear and see what your daughter likes. If you ever have the opportunity you can go in and have lunch with her and observe how it works!

Its No Joke, I'm So Broke said...

I wanted to comment on this post. As a kid I brought lunch, the school lunch was so gross (gray food) and honestly my mother just thought it was too expensive especially when I would get home from aftercare and eat everything in sight.As a elementary teacher,(taught pre-k - 2) we honestly just hold the cards for the kids, the system is monitored by the mean old lunch ladies and staff. Your child unless it was a sting operation would not be allowed to buy multiples. I would ask her what she wants to do. Maybe send her with lunch for the first week and then see how it goes.

SavingDiva said...

I'm not a mother, but my mother is a health teacher for the public school system. She was talking about how many calories school lunches have and how horrible the nutritional facts are...I would pack!