People Who Packed “Cultural” School Lunches Share How Their Classmates’ Reactions Impacted Them

People Who Packed "Cultural" School Lunches Share How Their Classmates' Reactions Impacted Them


“From kindergarten to seventh grade, my abuela packed my lunch. (My family is from Spain and Cuba.) While most of my meals weren’t outrageous, they weren’t the regular PB&J sandwiches or Lunchables. There was one thing, though, that was like an orange soup. Some sort of animal fat made it greasy. I can’t remember much about it except that it was orange from coagulated fats, smelled strong, and tasted amazing. Of course, I didn’t win any friends by opening a unicorn Lisa Frank thermos full of this pungent, strange soup. I’ve begged my mom to help me figure it out, but we don’t know what it was. I would give anything to taste Abuela’s cooking one more day.”

“I don’t have kids, so it’s easy for me to be an armchair quarterback, but I think food diversity is great. I also think there’s a lot of processed food out there. I can’t judge anyone who packs that for their kids; I don’t know their circumstances. 

But if I had the opportunity, I would continue sharing different foods. Food is a human necessity, and it’s a great way to learn about each other. I also loved visiting my friends’ houses and trying foods from their cultures. I still make the bitter melon soup my Taiwanese friend’s mom made when it was hot outside, and my Arab friend brings over a gorgeous, spiced rice and lamb dish every Nochebuena.”


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