Reporter's Notebook: Sampling a new-millennium menu

Thirteen years after I was graduated from Rosemont Middle School, I returned for lunch this week to sample the school's lunch options as mandated by new federal rules.

I joined seventh-graders Isabelle Avanosian, Ian Dankowski and Anna Shim, and eighth-grader Nina Kim.

For $2.50 we each had whole-grain pasta, chicken or meatballs, salad, grapes, peaches and, for some, sliced cucumbers.

The lunch was one of the most balanced school cafeteria meals I may ever have eaten, and everyone cleaned their plates. But lunch wasn't the only reason I came back.

When I was here from 1997 to 1999, we indulged in icing-covered cinnamon rolls and greasy chocolate-chip cookies during the morning break.

At the time, we could have ordered soda with any snack or meal. When I told today's Spartans this, they were in disbelief. Glendale schools expelled soda before they began kindergarten.

But they didn't seem to miss what they never had. Ian spoke with pure joy about green juice he adores at home with “handfuls of spinach and kale.”

“It's really good,” he said, and Isabelle agreed. “My mom bought a juicer, too. It's really good.”

The cinnamon rolls and cookies we devoured back then are obsolete.

The whole-grain cinnamon rolls of today don't melt in your mouth; they take longer to chew. The sprinkling of icing tastes like an afterthought. The chocolate chip-cookies are smaller and less buttery, and are injected with fruit puree.

Both treats do well to meet government requirements and retain delicious qualities, but it's apparent that a compromise has been dealt.

Still, some things do stay the same. On banking days, when students arrive one hour later than usual, I'm told some still stop at the closest Starbucks — just as we did as students — to arrive with caffeine and sugar pumping through their veins.

Cucumbers and whole grains aside, some things do last, even for the kids of today.

Follow Kelly on Twitter @kellymcorrigan.

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