I get a lot of questions about what my children eat during lunch at school. They, like many other vegan children, often pack their lunches. It's tried and true. There are some times that they just want to go through the line and buy a hot lunch.
When my older son started public school, we were working toward being vegetarian. He was aware of his choices and crossed his fingers for pizza without meat bits. Sometimes it was a little challenging, but nothing like eating vegan.
When we cut out dairy and eggs, the boys would still buy their lunches on occasion. We would study the menu and choose a day of the week when there were good sides offered. The main is almost always a meaty or cheesy thing, so we just ignore that part. Things were awkward at times with the cafeteria staff, but the boys could explain their dietary choices and work it out. Occasionally things would get sticky and I'd have to write an email, like the time they were told they must take a meat or a milk, then they could just throw it away. This did not go over well, especially with the younger boy. He cried at the wastefulness.
This year, the rules tightened as fruits and vegetables can no longer be sold a la carte. Younger son came home with a note to call the cafeteria manager. She very kindly explained the situation to me and gave me the number for her supervisor. I spoke to her and she suggested I get a note from the doctor, then send it to the school nurses. It would eventually get to her office and then they can see what they can do.
I did as requested. My husband and I wrote a kind explanatory letter to the nurses, included the note from the doctor and a vegan food pyramid with a quote from the American Dietetic Association:
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the pre- vention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the lifecycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.
I received a phone call days later from another person in the child nutrition department. She thanked me for my kind letter and asked if the boys would like to have soy milk to solve this issue. Yes! I was given the option of chocolate or vanilla, and told that it would be there in two days. So now they are able to enjoy their hot lunches again! The other great news is that she said they are working on some vegan menu items for the menus later this year or stating next school year. Hooray, Denton ISD!
The soy milk is kept behind the counter, so unfortunately it is not available to all children. With so many people affected by dairy intolerance or allergies, it seems like the kind of thing that people need to know about. So if your child would like nondairy milk with their lunches, please request it.
Thanks to the child nutrition department of Denton ISD! You've made this family very happy indeed.
Now... what can we do about those styrofoam trays? :)