My mom packed bad lunches. Instead of Ho-Hos, Twinkies, and soda pop, us kids got granola, bananas, and the ever popular date bread with low-fat cream cheese filling. Sitting at recess nibbling a super lame salmon pattie, I’d covet my friends’ Wonder Bread bologna sandwiches with yellow mustard and feel like the biggest geek on Dork Planet. My mom wouldn’t even let us have juice, and if she did, it was someone’s birthday or funeral. And you can just forget about Coca Cola and Hi-C.
This horrible, awful, no-good childhood trauma was countered by my father, who made homemade french fries, doughnuts, and potato chips. He drenched everything in mayonnaise and quintuple-fried anything remotely edible to within an inch of its nutrition-poor life. He let me eat an entire jug of Country Time Lemonade powder, and fed me butter sticks.
He never made our lunches.
How many childhood nights I lay awake, wishing my mom would allow my dad to cook for the four of us kids more often or at least let him slip a jar of mayo in our brown lunch sack, but God bless her, she knew better. She was going to raise healthy kids, come hell or Mr. Mom.
She succeeded, too, as far as I’m concerned. Because she set me on the right eating path early on, I developed a taste for whole, unprocessed foods. To this day, no one has to force quinoa or millet down my throat, and Country Time still makes me puke. As far as my three other siblings are concerned, let’s just say my dad had more sway in that area. My baby brother would kill a nun for Jack in the Box and my other brother and sister still beg my dad for his signature scrambled eggs cooked in bacon grease whenever they visit. (I admit I am not exempt from this craving for “dad’s eggs.”)
All those memories of crappy lunches have since turned into fond reminiscing. Green grapes in a little baggie while all my friends had M&Ms? Fun! Graham cracker sandwiches to my pal’s salami hoagie? Yes please! Trail mix with no chocolate chips while Gina Higgins was on her fourth Kit Kat? Give it to me, baby!
In all the seriousness I can muster, I do have to say I thank my mom for those long ago lunches. Giving a child a taste for healthy food cannot be underestimated, and I’m proud to say I’m trying to carry on the “lame” lunch tradition with my own kids. Unfortunately-for-them-someday-they’ll-thank-me lunch items include cucumber spears, hardboiled eggs, low-fat cheese sticks, and yes, date bread with cream cheese.
True, every now and then I let them buy the school lunch, but upon hearing the menu choices (cookies, french fries, chocolate milk), I don’t do that so much anymore. Choices are everything, but there need to be more nutritious choices, and less tempting ones.
This is absolutely why I’m 100% behind putting salad bars in schools. We all know good eating habits start early, so the more our kids are surrounded by healthy options, the more they might choose them. Of course, money is always the thing isn’t it? It’s not so easy for cash-strapped schools to offer more options, especially of the salad bar variety.
One recent initiative from Whole Foods Market can help. This weekend, Whole Foods stores in Southern California are donating $1 for every pound of salad to pay the salad forward, so to speak. Dubbed the “Eat your Greens to Give Some Green” day, each pound of food purchased from Whole Foods’ salad and hot bars this Sunday, September 9 will garner $1 donated to the Whole Kids Foundation to fund salad bar grants in San Diego schools.
(Did you see how I bolded that? My mom would be so proud.)
Adding to the crunchy goodness (I’m a big Whole Foods fan when my wallet allows) (For more on that, see this article on shopping at Whole Foods on a budget. It can be done), Whole Foods Market is a founding member of the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, which aims to provide salad bars to 6,000 schools across the nation by 2013.
So if you were planning to go to Whole Foods this weekend, consider waiting until Sunday (September 9) and while you’re there, get a salad to give a salad.
Here’s a handy graphic for the visual among us:
And because I’m weird about donating if I’m not absolutely sure it’s going to help (WHAT WAS WITH THAT WHOLE CALIFORNIA PARKS THING?), here’s a bit more info: Donations will be tracked and earmarked for each metro area, so the donation amount will reflect the success of each area’s campaign and will benefit schools in that specific metro area. Schools that apply for the grant in each metro will be eligible. The donation will be made to the Whole Kids Foundation, which will manage this process with the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative.
Also, any item purchased by the pound from a salad or hot food bar on Sept. 9 from opening to closing qualifies for the donation. To determine the final donation, all pounds of salad/food purchased from the day will be added and then rounded up to the next pound to determine the final donation amount.
IN ADDITION, if you want to know if your school has already applied for a grant, check it out here: http://saladbars2schools.org/school_finder.
So let’get more salad bars in schools and pack lame lunches…TOGETHER.
Because eating healthy might suck for your kids now, but they’ll thank you later.
(Even IF my dad’s bacon-scrambled-eggs make you see Jesus.)
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Whole Foods Market, but as you know if you read me, I don’t really do “sponsored” posts unless I’m into the cause, product, service, or salad.