Healthy School Lunches: Sometimes It Takes Bribery

Over the last couple years, I’ve gradually been going green, and it’s not until recently that our efforts have been more aggressive. However, with that said, I’ve always taken time to stop and explain to my children every step we are taking, all the whys and all the hows. My children are 12, 10, and 7, so there is quite a bit they understand and can participate in. Plus, I’ve always been the kind of Mom that feels the more communication between my children and me, the better.

When I was in college last year–attempting to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up–not having to make cold lunches every morning for my kids was great. Then when I quit school and realized what my children were actually consuming at school, I nearly choked. Even though my daughters’ private school had a very conscientious lunch lady (she only had about 150 students to feed daily), I knew my girls were most likely not choosing healthy each time. And my son’s public school? Carbohydrates and chocolate milk. Everyday.

Things have changed greatly at our house when it comes to food. We’ve cut down on eating out. We maybe go out once a month now as a treat for good behavior. We don’t buy junk food ever. We began a new meal planning regime where everyone in our home gets in on dinner planning and cooking. We are eating more local foods until our garden starts to provide us with what we need. We discovered that my cow’s milk allergy had passed down to my oldest and youngest children, so rice and goat’s milk is what we drink. Now it became time for me to tackle school lunches. How do I bring up the fact to my kids that they don’t get to have hot lunch anymore without some serious whining and rebellion? My kids loved eating hot lunch. 2 out of my 3 kids will be attending school this fall, while my youngest will stay home to be home schooled again. I had to come up with something. I decided it was gonna take bribery.

And what lovely bribery it is too!

Super cool, environmentally friendly, garbage-free lunch boxes from Lunchopolis. I found these at our Boise Co-op and knew my kids would love them. Now we just needed to sit down and have a chat. We began by explaining that this coming school year, they would not be able to eat hot lunches. And we explained the why–the hot lunches, we felt, were not healthy and well balanced. And for my son, consuming cow’s milk everyday was exacerbating his asthma. They had concerns, and we discussed them.

Then I brought out their new lunch boxes. That sealed the deal. They ooohed and aaahed and listened as I told them the tinted containers and beverage bottle were reusable and left no garbage behind to be thrown in a landfill. They half-way listened to me when I told them the bag was lead-free and insulated. As they walked away during my wonderful speech, I think they may have heard me holler after them that they would be taking yummy, yet healthy lunches to school everyday.

I think that went well. I’m sure at least some of what I said went in their little subconsciouses, don’t you think?

For more on her journey into urban homesteading and sustainable living, come visit Beth at her personal blog Coming Up For Air.

Original 5 Minutes for Going Green Post

14 Responses to Healthy School Lunches: Sometimes It Takes Bribery
  1. Maria
    July 17, 2008 | 3:22 pm

    I was disappointed with their websites avoidance of whether or not the product contains bpa. They boldly cite the plastic lobby ( statement on its safety, but not whether or not it is in their product. I sent email to them. Hopefully they reply.

  2. Beth (Coming Up For Air)
    July 17, 2008 | 4:13 pm

    I would love to know what you hear from them.

  3. Maria
    July 17, 2008 | 4:19 pm

    Their response:

    “Thank you for your interest in Lunchopolis.
    Yes, our containers do contain bpa.
    We are working on developing new containers.

  4. Beth (Coming Up For Air)
    July 17, 2008 | 4:47 pm

    While my article wasn’t really meant for product endorsement, but mainly for “this is what I did”, I am saddened by this information. When a company tells you their plastics are safe, you would like to be able to trust that. I apologize for not checking into this further. It was my intention to share something environmentally friendly and fun for kids, but apparently, it’s a health hazard.

  5. Maria
    July 17, 2008 | 7:32 pm

    I am saddened too, but they are working on it, so hopefully they change quickly. :)

  6. Arianne (To Think Is To Create)
    July 17, 2008 | 8:08 pm

    Our site is not a product review site, but we are real moms who want to share ideas about products we like. Inevitably that will include something that claims to be eco-friendly, but upon further digging, is actually not healthy at all.

    We will always be transparent about what we know and why we write about products, and I hope that our readers can see that. We also rely on you all to tell us when we are missing something, and I so appreciate the comment above pointing out the truth about these lunch boxes!

  7. JAM
    July 17, 2008 | 9:04 pm

    That is really a bummer! I showed the lunch boxes to my girls and they loved them. We almost bought bento boxes last year, but read reviews that said they leaked if you didn’t keep them flat, which they can’t do in their backpacks and lockers. We ended up with BuiltNY neoprene stretchy bags, which are washable, but it’s hard to find the right mix of containers to fit them. We’re always on the hunt for the perfect container system!

  8. Maria
    July 17, 2008 | 9:07 pm

    No accusations or judging here. If I were at a co-op and saw them, I would have bought them too. I have/had the luxury of sitting at my computer looking up additional information! :)

  9. Allison
    July 17, 2008 | 9:48 pm

    My kids are on the other end, they refuse to eat the hot lunches served at their school. I don’t blame them. They are full of carbs and sugar and nothing nutritious. I have approached the principal about how horrible the school’s food is and he just states that they follow CA state standards. That doesn’t console me. We all know that gov’t standards in most arenas are lacking.
    So my kids take whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter and local honey. Water in a Sigg bottle. (I threaten their lives if they lose it. Ha Ha.) Fruit. And some cracker, sometimes homemade, organic or just national brands. Maybe cheese. All in reusable containers.

  10. Monica (Healthy Green Moms)
    July 17, 2008 | 10:57 pm

    I’m learning and learning and taking it all in! Olivia is 15 months now so we’re not quite at the lunch box stage yet, but I’m find I’m already having to get crafty on the lunches. Thanks for the info and the feedback on the boxes, I love that we are sorting these products out for ourselves, it’s very powerful :)

  11. Beck
    July 18, 2008 | 7:47 am

    My son has a Laptop Lunchbox, which is bpa-free. We’re trying to use only reusable lunchbox containers, which is our goal every year.
    As far as hot lunches go, thermoses REALLY help – you can send taco filling in the thermos, and taco shells in the lunchbox. My kids are big fans of hot soup and pasta, too.

  12. Karen
    July 19, 2008 | 12:39 pm

    I think those boxes are soo great. Next time I’m over I want a closer look. I might have you pick one up for S next time you go to the Co-Op.

  13. Jennifer, Snapshot
    July 24, 2008 | 8:44 am

    Oh my gosh–I love those lunch boxes!

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