School Food Memories: Part I

School cafeterias: heavy on nostalgia!

This is the first in a series of blog posts about school food memories; food, and the act of eating, leave indelible memories for us and school food is no different. Today I am sharing my own memories of food and school—and food in school!—and over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing school food memories written for me by high school students in Upstate New York.

When I think about school food I think about my very favorite hot school lunch: Turkey a la King, or simply “The King.” At my high school this hot meal was deceptive in appearance: shredded turkey and cooked vegetables in a slightly florescent yellow gravy, all over mashed potatoes. But the gravy wasn’t just spooned over the mashed potatoes; our lunch ladies (today referred to as School Nutrition Specialist)  would take an extra moment to create a well in the potatoes with the back of their ladle, and then pour the turkey gravy over the top. Yes, please! It was so hot and warm and satisfying, and for all of its slight florescence, it tasted very much like Thanksgiving leftovers. At my school, the King ruled—literally and figuratively. I think the school nutrition staff liked King Day as much as we did–it made them happy to see us so happy, and that’s why I think they took that extra moment to create the King Volcano in the mashed potatoes.

I also have to confess that I let myself fall into some bad habits with school lunches, mostly because I had a very rigorous academic schedule in addition to a busy extra-curricular schedule. I cringe a little when I remember how much time I spent in the a la carte line, but I’m thankful that I had staff  who would actively encourage me to make healthier choices, pointing out the fresh fruit that was next to the chips, or telling me what was for sale in the longer “hot lunch” line that day. I was–and remain–a big milk drinker, so even on days that I wasn’t making the healthiest choices for myself I was still consuming 1-3 of those small cartons of skim milk each day at school. I “got milk” way before it was cool!

Do you have school food memories? Share it with us in the comments!

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