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Tribal school lunches - Montana


There's a certain childhood rite of passage I never experienced - eating cafeteria lunches. I attended a small, religious school from 5th - 12th grade, surrounded by the same faces until graduation. There were rarely new students who transferred to the school, no new boys to flirt with, or mysterious strangers who suddenly appeared at the desk beside me. In one word, I would describe my school experience as boring. The same can be said of my daily lunches, which my mom diligently packed every morning. Usually, the lunchbox consisted of a peanut butter or ham and cheese sandwich, some type of chips and a piece of fruit. I always envied kids who had the joy of entering the canteen each day to have old ladies with hairnets shovel different food onto their tray, sometimes completely inedible and sometimes a fun game to guess what the mystery meat or slop was. It all seemed very exotic and exciting for someone who was insanely bored being around the same kids and learning environment for so many years.

During my visit to the Native American reservation in Montana last week, I met with a teacher at the local tribal school and ate with the young kids in the cafeteria. The tribe would not let me photograph the students for privacy reasons, but you can see they are eating healthy and tasty lunches. Salad with tomatoes, two servings of fresh fruit, a roll and some type of spicy soup with black beans, corn and ground beef. Btw, last week someone scolded me for using the term Native American "reservation," implying that this is a derogatory term. Perhaps this is the case in Russian, but in English this word has no negative connotation. It is used to refer to the sovereign lands upon which Native American tribes now live in various parts of the U.S., and the Indians I met also referred to their home as "the reservation." Next week, I will write a big report about their lives.

What was your favorite meal? :) Do most Russian children bring packed lunches from home, or eat in the school canteen?



( 96 comments — Leave a comment )
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Mar. 1st, 2016 04:31 pm (UTC)
Soviet propaganda always implied that the Indian reservations were akin to the concentration camps, and that the Indians were forcibly moved there and prohibited from living anywhere else.
Mar. 1st, 2016 04:32 pm (UTC)
That's why I went to visit the reservation, to understand for myself and show others how Native Americans now live. I learned a lot. :) Hopefully I can write the report this weekend. They can live, or work, wherever they want. Same as all Americans.

Edited at 2016-03-01 04:33 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - logofilka - Mar. 1st, 2016 04:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 1st, 2016 05:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - j1980 - Mar. 1st, 2016 05:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - skysheep - Mar. 30th, 2016 07:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 1st, 2016 04:45 pm (UTC)
> Perhaps this is the case in Russian, but in English this word has no negative connotation

Oh really? Can i call negroes negroes then in your comments?
Mar. 1st, 2016 04:48 pm (UTC)
You can call them whatever you want, but you sound like an idiot if you use this term in America. Like you're still a slave master on the plantation. :)
(no subject) - whiteeye - Mar. 1st, 2016 04:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 1st, 2016 05:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
as a matter of fact, no - creaze - Mar. 1st, 2016 05:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: as a matter of fact, no - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 1st, 2016 05:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - creaze - Mar. 2nd, 2016 04:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 2nd, 2016 01:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
yeah, that, other one did actually - creaze - Mar. 2nd, 2016 04:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - skysheep - Mar. 30th, 2016 07:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 1st, 2016 04:54 pm (UTC)
Looks like a decent food, but I doubt that kids in reservation enjoy it. From my observation, public and Indian schools usually offer fries/burger/pizza/pasta kind of meal, especially, if they provide subsidized lunches. My kids are attending a charter school now, and it is slightly different: they have ethnic food assigned to each day of the month, with some repeats. Chinese, Greek, Mexican, Japanese, Italian, Indian, All-American (meaning bbq chicken and burgers, usually), etc. These lunches are catered by local restaurants, so school does not cook anything. We pick up the days and pre-pay on-line, and on other days 9let's say, if it is "taco Tuesday") they bring their own lunches. We are blessed with a very diverse student body, so nobody treats you like a weirdo, if you eat buckwheat or pirogi.
Mar. 1st, 2016 05:13 pm (UTC)
I guess the menu varies each day, but on this reservation that had a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. This is true even of the commodities building I visited, where they ration out food for the tribal members each month. I need to visit my nephew's school one day for lunch. I think healthy options always exist, it's just a matter of whether a kid will pick them. If they are faced with pizza, burgers or some other junk food, most will pick that over a salad.
(no subject) - logofilka - Mar. 1st, 2016 06:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 1st, 2016 04:57 pm (UTC)
Иногда в столовке разнообразней питаешься, чем дома.
Mar. 1st, 2016 05:10 pm (UTC)
ава ок
Mar. 1st, 2016 04:59 pm (UTC)
My school cafeteria memories are horrible. In a last decade of USSR existence we had disgusting cold sweet tea and two days old bun with piece of some pastrami parody. Most of my childhood memories are clear from negative episodes. But I still recall with disgust that cafeterias.
Mar. 1st, 2016 05:14 pm (UTC)
This does not sound tasty. You did not have hot soup or buckwheat? :))
(no subject) - romanklimenko - Mar. 1st, 2016 06:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 1st, 2016 05:42 pm (UTC)
Hi, Russian kids don't bring lunch to school. There are healthy food in Russian schools. But in NYC OMG, only junk, maybe once in week kids get something about healthy. Fried potatoes, nuggets, burgers. All go to garbage. They call that healthy food)))
Mar. 1st, 2016 05:50 pm (UTC)
What do kids eat in Russian schools? I've seen some photos online. This food does not look healthy or tasty either. Some type of mystery meat and sweet juice, with buckwheat on the side.
(no subject) - inescher - Mar. 1st, 2016 06:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 1st, 2016 06:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inescher - Mar. 1st, 2016 06:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - iamschik - Mar. 2nd, 2016 03:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 2nd, 2016 01:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bopobyc - Mar. 1st, 2016 06:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ksiuniko - Mar. 1st, 2016 06:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inescher - Mar. 1st, 2016 06:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Mar. 1st, 2016 10:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inescher - Mar. 1st, 2016 11:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - theodorexxx - Mar. 1st, 2016 07:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inescher - Mar. 1st, 2016 07:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - theodorexxx - Mar. 1st, 2016 07:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inescher - Mar. 1st, 2016 08:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Mar. 1st, 2016 10:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inescher - Mar. 1st, 2016 11:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ksiuniko - Mar. 1st, 2016 06:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 1st, 2016 05:54 pm (UTC)
Купер, Джеймс Фенимор
The ancestors of these Indians were disgusting commies, who had no private ownership of land and had universal suffrage. Hopefully now they abandoned these delusions and replaced them with more advanced ideas - to vote for Republicans and to build aircraft carriers. That's what progress is.
Mar. 1st, 2016 05:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Купер, Джеймс Фенимор
No, now they live under a sort of socialist scheme with the Tribal Council as leaders, and U.S. government to a certain extent. Not so bad. They can sit all day on their asses, and still collect food, or loiter in the alley and drink their lives away. But there are many good people there, trying to preserve the Native traditions with the youth and make the communities better.
Re: Купер, Джеймс Фенимор - iamschik - Mar. 2nd, 2016 03:54 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 1st, 2016 06:31 pm (UTC)
My son eats in the school and also we give him some food like yogurt.
Mar. 1st, 2016 07:01 pm (UTC)
I love yogurt!
(no subject) - theodorexxx - Mar. 1st, 2016 07:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 1st, 2016 07:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 1st, 2016 06:35 pm (UTC)
I don't know what's going on in Russian school now. During my childhood, in USSR, we didn't bring our own lunches in school. It was prohibited. Kids could bring the snacks only. But sometimes it was the sandwiches with different type of meat products (bologna typically but some kids from richest family could have salami), or cheese+ fruit (apple 90% of time). This snack could cover the lunch for some kids. But little kids had to use school lunches (in my school it was mandatory).
The typical school lunch contended soup (I hate it. I like homemade soups but what they did in cafeteria... :(((), some kind of "meat" portion (kotleta, meatball, frankfurter, etc. Interesting, but boiled chicken was available for our teachers only.) or fish (fried fish, like pollock with bones, or fish kotleta), some garnish to this (pasta, mashed potatoes, barley, rice, wheat), and "salad". In my memory there were only 2 types of salad. One is sour cucumbers/pickles with onion and sunflower oil; another one (my favorite) fresh cabbage, cucumbers, sunflower oil. Also the meal offer a drink. Sweet tea, or kompot (the drink similar to fruit punch but sometime made from dry fruits). Also sometimes we had kisel (the drink with potato starch in). Oh, yes, I forgot about 1 or 2 pieces of gray bread. This is typical school meal from my childhood.
Mar. 1st, 2016 07:04 pm (UTC)
What do you mean? Rich kids ate different foods than the ordinary students in the school? Fresh cabbage and cucumber salad sounds tasty! I'm very picky with meats, so I would probably avoid them in school cafeterias.
(no subject) - inescher - Mar. 1st, 2016 07:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 1st, 2016 07:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inescher - Mar. 1st, 2016 08:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 1st, 2016 08:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inescher - Mar. 1st, 2016 08:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 1st, 2016 07:09 pm (UTC)
It's not a salad if vegetables aren't chopped, And knowing you hate the mayo I don't dare to mention it
Ha! You already wrote about school lunches a year ago.
Perhaps my english fucks me but what you called a roll looks like a typical булочка I ate in school. Lots of bread and 1(one) raisin in it
Mar. 1st, 2016 07:11 pm (UTC)
There is no raisin in this bread. It's just a typical American dinner roll. I can't imagine putting mayo on any of the items on this tray, and yes I hate it. I eat everything plain. I don't like salad dressings, or any condiments like mayo, ketchup, mustard...
(no subject) - theodorexxx - Mar. 1st, 2016 07:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 1st, 2016 07:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inescher - Mar. 1st, 2016 09:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 1st, 2016 07:43 pm (UTC)
I did work in English school canteen once, just 1 week. I've found this job very enjoyable. I made 100 sandwiches in 20 minutes. I liked also how high were standards of hygiene there, just perfect. But kid liked fast food and sweets much more than healthy options. Now Jamie Oliver is campaigning a lot for a changes in schoolchildren meals, for new tax for fizzy drinks. In Soviet time all children used to have the same meals in school canteen, no lunchboxes whatsoever. And almost no choice
Mar. 1st, 2016 08:15 pm (UTC)
100 sandwiches in 20 minutes - impressive! :)
Mar. 1st, 2016 08:18 pm (UTC)
Soviet school canteens were the most terrible things in Soviet schools. Except for the political information regarding the vicious West and gore-thirsty United States.
Mar. 2nd, 2016 01:46 pm (UTC)
I don't want to know what they told Soviet students about the West...I remember almost no discussions about the Soviet Union or Russia during my school or university days.
Mar. 1st, 2016 09:25 pm (UTC)
I used to study at several Soviet schools - most had hot lunches, but one only had a stall where students could buy snacks and hot drinks. But normally, even though food was of, well, institutional standard, it adhered to strict health and nutrition standards regarding the meals' caloric and nutritional content (% of carbs, fat, protein, etc.) It was boring but hey, don't get me even started on French hospital food (I had a few quality stays in French hospitals) - it's absolutely _abysmal_ .

Normally, Soviet-time school meals consisted of a soup (cabbage soup, borsch, chicken noodle, whatever), a second course (usually meat patties, gulash, stroganoff with buckwheat, potatoes, pasta, etc, on the side); sometimes it was - oh horror - fish, always fresh-water with lots of bones in it; I still can't stand fish and it takes all my willpower to eat it when I absolutely have to. It was followed by a very primitive "dessert" - normally a sweet drink like "compote" (a drink of stewed dried fruit) ot "kissel" (runny fruit jelly). No fresh vegetables, but then again, not many Soviet Russians had them out of season, anyway: they simply weren't available. Lots of black and white bread for students to help themselves. The food was extremely basic and tasted bland and institutional but it was sufficient and definitely not as junky as all those horrible deep fried school meals I saw in Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. The meal on your photo actually looks very healthy. Which is a very good thing, considering the obesity epidemic among Native Americans.

Edited at 2016-03-01 09:28 pm (UTC)
Mar. 2nd, 2016 01:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the detailed answer. :) Yes, there is an obesity epidemic amongst Native Americans, and a lot of prevention measures and propaganda to avoid diabetes. I saw it on the reservation.
Mar. 1st, 2016 10:06 pm (UTC)
In my school in Moscow during the Soviet days, we had two types of lunches. "Student lunch" cost 28 kopeks. You could also buy supposedly much better "teacher lunch", which cost 32 kopeks. I don't recall much difference, other than the portion being a bit larger in the case of the latter.
Typical menu was some kind of soup (schi or borsch) with sour crear and grease floating in it. Rye bread was also available. Then "kotleta" made out of mystery meat with a spoonful or two of mashed potato. And then "kompot", a fruit drink. Not terribly tasty (except for kompot:). And probably not very healthy, either.
Mar. 2nd, 2016 01:49 pm (UTC)
I love kompot - tasty. :) Greasy foods are disgusting, so if it is floating on top of the soup, I could not eat it, unless I had to for survival.
Mar. 1st, 2016 10:39 pm (UTC)
I love Starbucks' protein boxes. I think if I was still going to school I would have preferred to eat something like that. In my school in Russia we used to get food stamps every month, that would allow us to buy a kotleta or a hot dog wrapped in dough and kompot. But if you used 2 tickets, you could get "vtoroe", which would be a serving of rice with meat or fish. since russian schools are usually 8am to 1pm, students would rather spend their stamps on a snack than a full lunch and then go home to eat. If you had an extra curriculum, parents would give you some money for "real lunch".

Also! You have technology classes, where they teach you to cook, so you can eat there. And usually that food was good too!
Mar. 2nd, 2016 01:50 pm (UTC)
Yes, the protein boxes are good! I'm now back on a low card diet and buy them sometimes when I'm in a rush in the mornings.
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