Sep 17, 2009

Cafeteria Food

Soy Hamburgers. If you’ve never tried one, you didn’t grow up in the Creighton School District in Phoenix, Arizona. I’m sure they were healthy. I am sure that some school board member thought they would improve our diet. But the Soy Hamburgers that were served at Squaw Peak Elementary School were the worst food I have ever eaten. You couldn’t add enough ketchup to make them palatable.


Some of you may actually like soy burgers. In today’s healthy world, people actually go out of their way to eat soy burgers. But this was the 60s. They hadn’t yet invented healthy food that tasted good. This was still the experimental stage. And school kids were the guinea pigs.


It’s not that I’m picky, either. The school also served slimy meatloaf, half-cooked tater tots, and Department-of-Education-approved fish sticks. These were all tolerable. But my father was the king of the hamburger. Once a week my mother would create home-made hamburger patties – sometimes with onions and other fillings added. Dad would cook these on the grill. It was the highlight of the week. The only resemblance that my dad’s hamburgers had to the ones served in the school cafeteria was that they both were served between hamburger buns.


Now the hot dinner rolls, however, were out of this world. Starting about an hour before lunch, the smell of freshly baked bread began to waft over the whole school. By the time we were in line, our mouths would be salivating. With a little dab of pure butter, this was the highlight of lunch. We couldn’t wait to get through the lunch line… only to have a soy hamburger placed on our lunch plate, too.


The school would allow seconds if your plate was empty. So on the days that they served hamburgers, we would stuff the little patties into the half-pint milk cartons and wipe off the evidence. We would then go back through the line and grab more dinner rolls. We were never caught. I’m guessing the teacher-monitors were sympathetic to our cause.


Today’s cafeteria food is much better. I think they’ve figured out that it is better for kids to eat the food than to stuff it in an empty milk carton. Who knows? Maybe my generation grew up and had pity on the next generation.


I should be grateful, however. At least I had a hot lunch. In many places around the world kids don’t have that luxury. When mankind was kicked out of the Garden of Eden, God said, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground”. That we have to work for food is a constant reminder of the good that we lost to sin.


So I suppose that soy hamburgers are really a reminder of original sin. Ain’t that the truth! Soy hamburgers remind us that we live in a fallen world removed from the one that God created for us. They remind us of our need for a Savior. But they should also make us salivate for the time when, because of His love for us, we will live with Him forever at the eternal High Feast.




Pastor David Hook


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