I pack Mr. B and the girls their lunches nearly every morning. Mr. B’s customarily takes a cup of Tillamook yogurt, a piece of fruit, and some kind of leftovers to heat up in the microwave at work. The girls most often get a “cold lunch”: a sandwich or other hand-held high-protein item, fruit, nuts or a granola bar, maybe some yogurt, and a little treat. Nothing fancy, but nutritious and hearty enough to get them through the day. There are kids in their schools who go hungry though. (Yes, even here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.) Each of my five girls, at one time or another, have told me about kids they know who don’t have anything to eat for lunch. Kids they share their lunches with. I don’t understand, what with free lunches being so easy to qualify for and all, how this happens, but on many occasions over the years I’ve packed a child of mine a much more substantial lunch than usual, because I know it will be shared with someone who needs it. I can’t fix the bigger problem of childhood hunger by myself, but I can help one kid for one day.
Personally, I’ve never known real hunger. I did not know, when I was a child, how precariously close our budget balanced on the line. I did not notice, back then, how my mother picked the big pieces of tuna out of our casserole and set them carefully on my plate saying she didn’t want them, or how she made a pot roast last for four or five meals. I did not know that other people didn’t have chipped beef on rice three or four times a month. Still, First World problems. We always had something to eat. We weren’t rich by American standards, but we were by most of the rest of world’s – there was never a day in my childhood when I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from.
Hunger, though, was only a generation away. My father, a Depression era migrant child straight out of The Grapes of Wrath, knew hunger often. He told me with no self-indulgence of many times going to bed without anything to eat, and watching his mother scrape and scrimp and go without to feed her children. He made me understand, as I grew older, just how lucky – how bless – our family was.
Today’s post is all about feeding one child for one day. Or a hundred for a year. It’s your call. Because today my post is dedicated to The Lunch Box Fund. The Lunchbox Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a daily meal for extremely poor and at-risk school children in South Africa. A country where more than 35% of the population is devastated by poverty and AIDS. These children, if properly nourished in body and mind, have the potential to change their lives – and their country – for the better.
Please consider donating to the current Lunch Box Fund campaign through The Giving Table. Give according to your means. Just $10 can feed a child their only meal of the day. For my part, I am donating $5 per child for each of my own children – I encourage everyone who reads this post to do the same.
Now, in recognition of both childhood and lunch, I thought I would share my favorite grade school cold-lunch sandwich with you: Peanut butter, dill pickle, and Miracle Whip. (NOT mayo. That would be gross.) It isn’t fancy and it isn’t hard to make, but it has provided me with countless stick-to-my-ribs and get-me-through-the-day lunches (and a few dinners) over the years. (Confession: I had one for breakfast this morning. It was not the first time.) Now, I know what you are probably thinking, so I’m just asking – give it a chance. (Remember the first time someone offered you sushi?) It is fantastic. I like it best with home-canned dills, but Mrs. Neushins Dill Pickles also work in a pinch. Just stay away from Kosher dills – they are far too salty.
Interesting story: I had a birth-family reunion about seven years ago. The first time we got the whole family together, we had a picnic at Multnomah Falls, and it was there that I learned that my b-mom and I share this unusual favorite sandwich. I mean, really – ask 100 people what their favorite cold sandwich is. How many do you think will say that it’s PB, Dill pickle & Miracle Whip? Not many, I guarantee! So much for that theory that “Nurture” is everything.
More great lunch Ideas from What’s for Dinner, Mama!
- Spanikopita is one of my favorite lunches ever! I eat it cold and in-hand more often than not. I like to make a tray, cut and wrap in single servings and freeze. Then I just take one out the night before, pop it into my lunch bag for work, and I’m all set with a healthy, savory lunch.
- Caprese Sandwiches are fast, easy to make, and wonderfully satisfying.
- We all love to take dip with pita and raw veggies for lunch. Walnut-Pomegranate Dip (Muhammara) is deliciously filling and keeps very well in the fridge for at least a week.
- Chimichangas travel well and are delicious hot or cold!
- 10-Minute Summer Salad can be made year round, and adapts easily to whatever you have one hand. A batch will last for a week, and can be used in lunches as a main dish or side.
- If you have a thermos or microwave available, soup is always a great choice for lunch. Loaded Baked Potato Soup and Chicken Enchilada Soup are a couple of my favorites.