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Old 08-27-2010, 09:56 PM
 
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Just would like to take a little informal survey--

for those of you with kids in middle school, do your kids typically bring their lunch, buy it, or a combination of both?

I used to pack lunches for elementary school, letting them buy lunch 1x week for a break. However, once they started middle shcool, it became logistically awkward for them to pack a lunch. In elementary, they left their lunches in their homeroom. Now that they have lockers, they complain the lockers are too small to accomodate a lunch box (and I agree). Also, its a timing thing, by the time they run to their lockers, get their lunch, then back to the cafeteria, most of the lunch period is gone. It just didn't work out anymore, so I let them buy their lunch.

Problem is, those lunches are so small. for the basic tray, $2.30, there's barely enough for a kindergartner. Its more like samples. I thought it was ok, reading the menu, until I happened to see a tray, that's not enough for a growing teen! And the drink is so small, just a little carton of milk. They end up buying extras, like bottled water, which costs 75 cents, or soda, then, extra items because they're simply hungry. They end up spending $4-$5 day, per kids, which is outrageous. Still, they can't go hungry.

Our finances are strained to the max, but we don't qualify for free or reduced lunch. This is simply unsustainable, any suggestions? Mainly, I'm interested to know how many middle school kids buy or bring their lunch?

Perhaps I could pack a small bag with bottled water and a few extras, let them buy the standard tray, but that still doesn't address the problem of the timing, the cafeteria is way on the other side of the school, the kids spend literally most of their lunch period running their lunch bag around.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:12 PM
 
Location: Denver area
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When my kids were in MS, I allowed them $5/week - I figured that would pay for 1-2 lunches depending on how much they ate....if they wanted to pack their lunch every day, they could pocket the money. When my DD was in MS she wanted a cell phone and proposed forgoing her $5/week and putting her money toward the cell phone (which at that time was a $20 add on to our plan)....we agreed and I never gave her more money for lunch...her choice. If they wanted to spend more, then it came out of their own money not mine. I made sure to keep a variety of things in the house so that packing was a viable option. Once they were out of elem. school I no longer packed their lunch (OK every now and then if they had tons of homework or something but not often). Lunch boxes didn't work in MS. They packed their lunch in Walmart/Target bags. They had Nalgene or stainless water bottles they filled with ice and cold water each morning. My kids Middle School had no lockers so everything had to stay in their backpacks all day anyway and be carried around. They did not like wasting their lunch period standing in line for food.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maciesmom View Post
When my kids were in MS, I allowed them $5/week - I figured that would pay for 1-2 lunches depending on how much they ate....if they wanted to pack their lunch every day, they could pocket the money. When my DD was in MS she wanted a cell phone and proposed forgoing her $5/week toward the cell phone (which at that time was a $20 add on to our plan)....we agreed and I never gave her more money for lunch...her choice. If they wanted to spend more, then it came out of their own money not mine. I made sure to keep a variety of things in the house so that packing was a viable option. Once they were out of elem. school I no longer packed their lunch (OK every now and then if they had tons of homework or something but not often). Lunch boxes didn't work in MS. They packed their lunch in Walmart/Target bags. They had Nalgene or stainless water bottles they filled with ice and cold water each morning. My kids Middle School had no lockers so everything had to stay in their backpacks all day anyway and be carried around. They did not like wasting their lunch period standing in line for food.

How did you keep their lunch cold? I use an insulated bag with an ice pack, try as I might I simply can't find one small enough to fit in those lockers. BTW, we're in TX, waaaaaay too hot to carry a lunch around half the day not insulated, it stays hot here until about Nov.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:21 PM
 
Location: Denver area
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Nothing in their lunch needed to stay that cold. Even a sandwich with a bit of mayo isn't going to go bad in a few hours in a backpack (unless you are making homemade mayo...then you might have a concern). Besides, the building is air conditioned. The lunch was packed the night before, stayed in the fridge overnight and lunch was at 11 or so. It's not like it was sitting in the sun for hours.

ETA - you can find small ice packs that you can throw into a bagged lunch...the kids just have to remember to not toss them in the trash when they are done with lunch....I had a few that were only like 3X5.....

Last edited by maciesmom; 08-27-2010 at 10:59 PM.. Reason: correction
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:23 PM
 
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My son has made his own lunches since middle school - brown bag. He makes peanut butter and jelly so keeping it cold is never an issue.

He's never wanted to waste time standing in line for lunch. For him, getting to a locker to get it wasn't a huge deal - just plan your time well and don't goof around.

Now in high school, since starting to drive, he comes home sometimes and the rest of the time, still makes his own lunch.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:23 PM
 
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Aren't they allowed to carry backpacks around during the day? That's where my kids kept their lunch bags. I bought the soft-sided bags that could handle a bit of scrunching, and added either one of those blue ice packs or a frozen water bottle to keep things cold.

I have always hated making school lunches. I would have been happy to pay the price, but the food was lousy, and they much preferred a sandwich from home. Once they reached high school, they had a food court set-up with lots of choices, so they went back to buying.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:27 PM
 
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Pack. School lunches are a nutritional nightmare. Brown bags fit in lockers. A sandwich, some carrot sticks, and a piece of fruit doesn't have to stay cold all day.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryleeII View Post
Mainly, I'm interested to know how many middle school kids buy or bring their lunch?
My son and one of his female friends are in the room with me. I asked them what percentage of children packed their lunches when they were in middle school. They debated it and decided that approxiately 30% packed their lunches in elementary school, 15% in middle school, and VERY FEW students packed their lunches by 8th grade.

We never packed lunches, but I did try to get my son to pack in 8th grade because he was making unhealthy choices. He was leaving his packed lunches in his locker and always forgot to bring home the 'box'. He did everything he could to not eat a packed lunch. He would borrow money from friends before he would eat a lunch I packed. One time, I went to his locker after school to collect all of his hoodies (he left 6 hoodies at school and none were at home). I pulled his lunch box out from the bottom of his locker, opened it and all sorts of bugs started flying out of it!

If you must pack a lunch for financial reasons, by all means, do so. Just tell your kids that it's an absolute necessity. Do your best to create healthy meals that they like.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Mattie View Post
Aren't they allowed to carry backpacks around during the day?
Many schools forbid backpacks in the classrooms because backpacks are considered a safety issue.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:40 PM
 
Location: Denver area
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hopes View Post
Many schools forbid backpacks in the classrooms because it's considered a safety issue.
LOL - that was one of the reasons my kid's middle school took out the lockers when they underwent renovation. What a nightmare having to lug a humongous backpack everywhere all day was. Not to mention the expense of 2 sets of books for every class. One to remain in the classroom and one to be kept at home for homework/study....
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