Public school lunches don't seem to change much from school to school. They all seem to be made up of different permutations of the same fifty or so foods. I've seen the foods sold together in industrial food catalogs as "institutional meals." Indeed...

As testament to the fact that I have no life, here are some of the foods I remember from my time served in public education:

Main Course

Mr. Rib - A generic McRib, ground Grade E Meat compressed into the shape of a tiny rack of ribs.
Macaroni and Cheese - Mmm, it's yellow. Very yellow. Day-Glo. Invariably came with three or four Lil' Smokies.
Fish Fillet - With tartar sauce, served on Fridays during lent. Totally disgusting, often had grey veins going through the white meat.
Pizza - Flat and rectangular, with perfect little 6 millimeter cubes of pepperoni.
Hamburger - Called a Hamburger because Textured-Vegetable-Protein-burger wouldn't fit on the menu.
Spaghetti and Meat Sauce - Tasted like watery dirt. No shit, it had little bits of sand in it and everything. Superbad.
Grilled Cheese - Pasteurized process cheese food! Only present at the same time as Tomato Soup.
Chicken Fried Steak - By "fried," they must have meant "thawed" ...
Tacos - Greasy ground meat with a lot of lettuce and a little shredded velveeta. No spice whatsoever, but still a different color than hamburger meat. Eerie.
Chili - This looks exactly like chili, but has no flavor. None. The saltines they gave you to mix in had more flavor than the chili itself.
Corn Dog - Exact same as every corn dog you've ever had. There must be a single company that manufactures the fuckers, or something.
Fried Chicken - Ostensibly a different product than Chicken Fried Steak, though they were utterly the same. The meat may have been a hair lighter in color.
Cheeseburger - See Hamburger but with velveeta and pickles.
Salad Bar - They carted it in and out of it's own personal refrigerator. It would be fresh on Monday, limp by Wednesday, and inedible by Friday.
Turkey - Flat, thin, shredded and shaped turkey meat food product, topped with Gravy. Served with Mashed Potatoes and Stuffing to commemorate Thanksgiving and Christmas.


Lil' Smokies - Sort of like a hot dog the size of your pinky finger, magically infused with "Barbecue" flavor.
Mashed Potatoes - Powdered and lumpy, of course. Topped with Gravy.
Brown Gravy - Had that notorious Kitchen Helper taste of faux beef. Oh thank you, it's just brown and water.
White Gravy - Usually only seen at breakfast, or Breakfast for Lunch. Thick, gummy, and flavorless, with specks of pepper and chunks of some random meat.
Tomato Soup - Just like Campbell's, for real. Just as thin and unsatisfying, too.
Turkey Gravy - Translucent and sticky. Tasted like poultry, or possibly MSG.
Waffle Fries - Potatoes cut into waffle shape and fried. Even better than Cap'n Crunch for tearing your mouth to shreds.
French Fries - Like McDonalds fries, only cooked for far too long, so they were harder than a #2 pencil.
Steak Fries - Huge wedges of potato, battered and fried. Pretty good, if you were willing to risk the heart disease.


Broccoli - Overcooked to the point of tasting like nothing, but still green.
Cheese Rice - Sort of a casserole, if you made casserole by mixing broccoli, rice, and velveeta together in a floor-standing mixer.
Corn - Off the cob, baybee.
Green Beans - See Broccoli, same thing in a different shape.
Vegetable Medley - Corn, carrots, and peas, overcooked. Looked colorful on the plate, though.


Chilled Peaches - Those devious lunch ladies somehow figured out how to make innocent peaches slimy. Bleah.
Fruit Cocktail - I always felt cheated if I didn't get my requisite single half maraschino cherry.
Applesauce - Usually normal, but sometimes with sugar and cinnamon, which made it gritty. Mmm, gritty.


Cinnamon Bun - Yummy. My school actually baked these, and they were reminiscent of actual food.
Strawberry Shortcake - Strawberry fragments in strawberry sauce, over a square of hard-tack, with whipped cream.
Beatnik Cake - Looked, tasted, and smelled like a brownie. The lunch ladies assured us it was somehow made of sugar beets. God knows why, as that only made half the kids not want to eat it.


Biscuits and Gravy - Hard lumps and goo would have been a more appropriate name. Only done with White Gravy.
Pancakes - Came with a little paper cup of Maple-esque syrup, which they easily absorbed without losing any of their dryness.
Breakfast for Lunch - Once a month, breakfast foods would be served at lunch time. Concrete proof that lunch ladies enjoy acid, too.


Milk - Half pints of Skim, 2%, and Whole. If you were lucky, there'd be ice chunks in them. If you were unlucky, you would get chunks of a wholely different nature.
Chocolate Milk - Mmm, chocolaty. Favored five to one over any kind of white milk, as it had a sugar and caffeine bonus.
Orange Drink - Half pint of super-sub-generic Tang, fortified with enough chemicals to make it as healthy (?) as Milk.

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