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Hello! My vegetarian daughter, age six, used to always take a lunch from home to school. But now the school has a new seating procedure that segregates the lunch-from-home kids from the hot-lunch kids. (As far as we know, the only reason they do this is so the lunch-from-home kids don't have to stand in line with everybody else and therefore have more time to unpack and eat.) Now, because all of her friends eat the school-provided hot lunch, she's refusing to take a lunch I would pack for her because she can't sit with her pals. But we know she's not eating the entree that's served to her, just the side dishes. They've offered to give her a peanut-butter sandwich, but she won't eat peanut butter, either. So she comes home from school cranky and upset because she's eaten virtually nothing since breakfast.
My question is this: What's the best way to ask the school to provide a vegetarian alternative for her? I suspect it would be very easy for the school to whip up a grilled-cheese sandwich or pasta with marinara sauce once in a while. And I'd be more than willing to pay for boxes of veggie burgers and bean burritos that they could keep on hand. I'm just a little apprehensive about asking the school to do this, since we're not vegetarians for religious reasons. We just don't like meat! Any advice you could pass along would be appreciated.
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It's too bad the school decided to segregate the kids. I don't see why the hot-lunch kids can't go sit with the lunch-from-home kids after they pick up their trays. If you can talk to the school about that, it might be a good place to start. Surely there are other parents in the same situation.
But if that doesn't work, here are a few more options:
1. Could your daughter buy a hot lunch, avoid the main dish, eat the side dishes, and also whip out a sandwich you've sent with her from home? Would they allow the kids to sit together under those circumstances?
2. During the Nutrition/Recess break, do the kids eat snacks? If so, perhaps your child could fill up during that break instead of the lunch break. Then maybe she wouldn't be so hungry once she got home. She could probably eat her sack-lunch pretty quickly during that break.
3. If you want the school to provide a vegetarian option in the hot-lunch program you've got to make it as easy on the cafeteria workers as possible. I would offer to provide food that they could serve your daughter. For example, what if you sent over a big batch of pasta at the beginning of the week and asked them to put some on her tray as the main dish? Or other leftovers like stew that are super easy to reheat? It's doubtful the school will buy and prepare a main dish just for her.
4. Lastly, see if you can get vegetarian options for everyone. Many moms have had great success getting their schools to adopt a Healthy School Lunch Program. Go to www.pcrm.org and look for their program. My daughter's grade school here in Nevada not only offers a vegetarian meal option daily, but every Wednesday they offer a vegan option!Also read this article: The Time Is Right For Getting Veggie Meals Into Schools