Who Hates Making School Lunch?

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Jenny Rosenstrach has a diary listing every dinner she has made since 1998. “Dinner is something tangible,” she said. Jennifer S. Altman for The New York Times Jenny Rosenstrach in her kitchen.

Jennifer Rosenstrach loves dinner. Loves it so much that Rosenstrach, a freelance writer and editor, has created a Web site, DinneraLoveStory.com, devoted to “helping parents figure out how to get family dinner on the table.” Loves it so much that she has kept a journal of what she has eaten for dinner every night for 12 years. (You can read Susan Dominus’s column about that dinner journal here.)

But when it comes to lunch, Jenny has mixed feelings. At least that’s the message you get from her latest post on her site, which is a reproduction of a contract (purportedly drawn up by the law firm “Almuerzo & Snaks” — get it?) that lays out the division of labor between Jenny and her husband, Andy Ward, when it comes to making school lunch for their two children, who are 8 and 6. You can take a look at the original here, complete with Andy’s “handwritten” commentary. But here’s a sample:

This letter confirms our agreement regarding lunch- and snack- packing responsibilities, (henceforth referred to as “The Lunch”) including, but not limited to, napkin-note writing, Tupperware lid matching, crust-cutting, for the school year 2010-2011. …

You hereby agree to be the sole and exclusive lunch and snack packer every other school day (excepting holidays, early dismissals and Pizza Friday’s) for the previously stated term of this Agreement. The other party will provide advice regarding these projects, will use reasonable efforts to assist with the packaging of leftovers during dinner clean-up, and reminders as to which class is peanut-free, which child favors the polka-dot sandwich wrap and which the striped, and will make reasonable efforts to assist if “The Lunch” packer is medically unable to perform the task…”

In his addenda, Andy (who is a book editor) puts a box around “crust-cutting” and writes: “I am morally opposed to this. Life has crust!” Then, to the list of responsibilities he inserts “thermos-filling, cucumber slicing, strawberry de-stemming, and (worst of all) morning-of mac-n-cheese making.”

In the second paragraph he goes on to put quotation marks around the word “advice” and asks in the margin: “Does “advice” here include the following questions: (A) “Is today a special day? Is that why you’re putting a cookie in their lunches?” Or, (B) “You sure you don’t want to use those cute bento boxes I bought, instead of those Ziploc bags?”

And then he draws a box around the word “medically” and asks, “mentally?”

Do you hate making school lunches as much as the Rosenstrachs do? Do you cut the crusts off the bread? Write notes on napkins? Put a cookie in every once in awhile? Just let them buy the chicken nuggets because you give up and give in?

Use the comments below to share gripes — and tips — about the school-day lunch scramble.