The Well at the New York Times has been discussing school lunches and kids’ nutrition a lot lately, and yesterday’s was another good one.
In the Army, the drill sergeants used to tell the recruits that they should be eating in the chow line, eat on the way to the garbage can, if they’re eating fast enough they don’t even need to sit down… leaving more time for shining their boots and cleaning their rifle.
And that’s what a school lunch is like these days. In our district kids get 20 to 30 minutes, and half that time can be spent waiting in line. One of two things happen: either we’re teaching them that food should be shoveled into their gullet, or that they need to look for even faster meals like McD’s. Neither are especially good messages.
It’s hard to slow it down. We all live further and further away from the place where we work than we used to, and the kids have a thousand places they need to be besides the dining room. Homework, sports, extra-curriculars… they all add up, and making dinner a hour of sit-down instead of just fifteen minutes and then off to whatever, that can be a lot to ask.
But every little bit helps. If you are currently running helter skelter each and every day, then adding one slow, deliberate meal to the week is a huge first step.
In that vein, next weekend I’ll share a nice, slow dinner: Irish stew with cheddar scones. Stay tuned… back in a few days with that one.