I’m pretty freakin’ fortunate to have time during the school day to dash down the street for vegan gluten-free food when I don’t pack a lunch. When “dashing out” results in a meal like this, I feel pretty lucky.
Backing up… Every other school where I’ve taught has given teachers a whopping 30 minutes for lunch. And every teacher in America knows that dropping off kids at the cafeteria takes a few of those precious minutes right off the front end, especially if there are some special someones who need a little extra “support”. After walking down to the teacher’s lounge, waiting your turn at the microwave, returning an email to a parent on your phone, and trying to remember if your lesson plans are ready for the afternoon, you might be able to sit, shovel, and have a few minutes of adult conversation. After scarfing down a few bites, you zip up your half-eaten lunch mid-conversation, and you speed-walk down the hall to promptly pick up your students in order to stay on the good side of the lunch aides. Turning the corner to the buzzing cafeteria, you silently curse, or school appropriately curse aloud “oh, banana grams!” when you realize that you’ll be hopping ’til 3:30 because you didn’t factor in 90 seconds to use the restroom. Forget a mirror to check for lettuce in your teeth. No worries, your kids will find it for you. Conclusion, teachers have an average of 10.5 minutes to eat lunch.
Speeding forward… My current school gives teachers 50 blissful minutes. Just shy of an hour to heat up a lunch, eat a gigantic salad while actually chewing, make a personal call, have a conversation with a colleague, look over afternoon lesson plans, and even use the restroom. To top it all off, we are actually allowed to walk out the front door like other free Americans to spend our lunch time however and wherever we want. We can go out for lunch! And there are days, like today, when I take full advantage of that option.
Today I walked a few blocks to Juice Generation. Instead of grabbing a salad from their selection of raw food goodies, I opted for vegan sushi. The spicy mango roll with black rice, green mango, sweet potato, watermelon radish, and cayenne pepper was exactly what I needed to spruce up my lunch rut.
Washed down with “The Professional” and I was ready for an afternoon of fourth grade acrobatics.
(What is it about me that was attracted to a juice called “The Professional”? Clearly the marketing genius who came up with this name was targeting those of us who aren’t satisfied with a green juice of apple and kale. The professionals go all the way! The more greens the better!)
Thankfully I remembered I needed an afternoon snack while paying for my lunch, and I was so glad that I had looked in Juice Generation’s gluten-free vegan goodie case when I headed back to my quiet classroom after saying goodbye to my charges. This almond butter muffin was not only delicious, it supported my “highly effective” lesson planning this afternoon.
Feeling thankful, well-fed, and highly effective, I’m calling it a day. Teachers, how long do you get for lunch? Are you allowed to leave the building?