Connor is not a fan of food. He does not seek it out and he rarely tries new things unless told to do so. Helen, on the other hand, is more adventurous with food. As a result, I'm learning a lot about how the lunchroom at the elementary school operates.
1. The Sharing Table - according to Helen, there is a table in the lunchroom called "the sharing table". The table is near the trash bins, and the idea is that you may leave behind any whole fruit or packaged item that you have not started to consume. At first, Helen told me, she thought the sharing table was just for "all those kids in wheelchairs who come into the cafeteria who always forget their lunch money". Until one magical day, a friend of hers who was at the school in Kindergarten told her that anyone may take anything off the table. KA-CHING! This sent Helen into a bit of a frenzy, collecting items that looked particularly appealing. But, the catch is, you have to peer at the table from your seat - because "the mean lunch ladies do not like it when you leave your assigned table" - and then make a dash for whatever food item you want. Helen almost always brings her own lunch, so she's not actually a contributor to the sharing table - she's just a taker.
Connor's comment when asked about the sharing table: "I guess there's one. I never look at it.".
2. Try New Foods - a few parents run a campaign to "Be Your Body's Best Friend". The campaign centers around improving nutrition; teaching children they need a lot of sleep, few sugar drinks, and limited screen time; and improving exercise habits by encouraging children to walk to school on certain days and run a 1-mile or 5K run at the end of the school year.
One component of the nutrition piece is to encourage children to try new foods. Moms show up in the cafeteria regularly with post of soup, vegetables, and other nutritious offerings and the children my have a sample. They also bring recipes in case the children want to know how to make the food at home. The number of times Connor has approached the new foods table is probably one - enough to learn it was an activity he didn't care for. Helen? She's crushing at the new foods table and even won a pencil last week - which she loved - for knowing some facts being focused on in the campaign.
These moms, by the way, are saints - and the person heading it up graduated from culinary school, which I think is amazingly cool.
3. If you bring your lunch and your friend buys her lunch, you can try and spread out a lot when you get to your seat so that your friend may squeeze in when s/he acquires lunch. Tried and tested by years of students, including both Connor and Helen.
Helen and I used to visit Connor for lunch one or two times a year. With two children, my visit to the cafeteria will be a lot longer, which might do me in.