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Don’t mess with the lunch ladies

There is something quite intimidating about going through the school lunch line when you’re a young child. There are so many things to manage all at one time – your food, your tray, your silverware, your money.
Who knows how many children have stayed awake at night worrying they might drop their lunch tray and bring mounds of unwanted attention to their second-grade self?
Then there are the lunch workers themselves. I was terrified of the lunchroom workers when I was a young child. I’m not sure why, but I always felt like they were waiting to yell at me, or at least admonish me to eat my broccoli.
They never did either, of course. I’m sure they were perfectly nice ladies, all of whom were just doing their jobs.
Still, the combination of hair nets, white uniforms and heaping scoops of powdered mashed potatoes and brown gravy were enough to scare me to death. To this day, I try to avoid school lunchrooms or if I’m forced to go to one, I make sure to smile, thank them for their work and eat two servings of broccoli.
And that brings me to this story. A high school in Atlantic City has had a problem with food fights. To solve the problem, the lunchroom workers decided to offer a single item – cheese sandwiches – until the students acted right. The simple meal was all that was offered for three days.
Parents complained (“Nutrition is the most important thing!” one outraged mother said.) The principal remained firm in his support of the lunchroom workers’ menu.
“We’re not going to tolerate it (the food fights),” he told the questioning press.
The community also seems firmly behind the lunchroom workers. A local T-shirt shop teamed with the school’s art teacher to produce a line of shirts for the lunchroom workers. The front of the shirt contained the school’s name and the phrase, “Home of the Cheese Sandwich.” The real message was printed on the back in bold, black letters: “Don’t Mess with the Lunch Ladies.”
I don’t know if these particular lunch ladies normally wear white uniforms and hair nets. I don’t know if they dish out potatoes and gravy and soggy broccoli. If they do, however, I bet every kid takes their serving, balances it precariously on their tray and pays their money with a smile on their face.
I know that’s what I would have done.

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