Schoolkids and lunch . . . Every parent’s nightmare

The Chronicle

Raymond Jaravaza, Showbiz Correspondent

IT’S a Monday morning, the usual school day rituals that have become part of the Sibanda family are playing out, but Primrose, a mother of two, is slowly losing her patience because one of her children is ‘threatening’ to boycott school.

“It’s a daily battle that we go through, but on that particular day, I found myself losing patience because I thought my daughter was being unreasonable. She was threatening not to go to school because she hated the food that I had packed for her lunch,” Primrose told Saturday Leisure.

For most parents, packing food, be it snacks, sandwiches or fruits for their school kids is fast becoming a nightmare that gives them sleepless nights. The hard economic conditions prevailing in the country are worsening the situation as it is becoming a daily struggle just to put food on the table, let alone the extra burden of making sure that children have food to eat at school.

For Primrose, convincing her seven-year-old daughter that as a mother, she is doing the best she can to provide for the little girl, is akin to expecting a cat to bark.

“It’s easier dealing with a grown up than trying to convince a little girl that the food you packed for her is the best you could find as a parent. On that particular morning, she was angry that I had packed bread with peanut butter for two consecutive days.

“She was threatening not to go to school because her friends would laugh at her at break time,” narrated Primrose.

She is not alone in confronting the worst nightmare of preparing food for kids to take to school every morning. It’s a battle that knows no social standing or wealth as even the well to do are finding themselves in the same predicament.

Businesswoman and former beauty queen Lorraine Maphala-Phiri is not spared and she this week started an intriguing conversation on social media on how she navigates the battle of packing food for her two kids.

“I can’t really keep up with the prices. I run out of ideas for my babies for packed lunches and mince pies always fetch me a lot of hugs and kisses from my kids,” she posted.

Maphala-Phiri even suggested that parents must be innovative when packing lunch for their kids and do away with giving them money to spend at school.
Songstress Lee McHoney – real name Linda Nyauchi – a fast-rising star in the music industry, said she would rather eat an undesirable meal just to save money so that her child can take to school a good lunch.

“My daughter is in Grade One and it’s always difficult packing lunch for the little girl. I always say I’d rather eat the worst food during the day just to save that extra dollar so that I pack a meal that she will take to school,” said the songstress.

Because of the runaway inflation that is eroding parents’ incomes and their ability to buy basic commodities, packing lunch for school kids is one battle that leaves the grownups feeling like they are caught between a rock and a hard place.

“I think it’s important for us as parents to try and understand how our kids feel when their friends laugh at them for bringing to school the same meal every day. It’s not easy (the economic situation), but I find it much cheaper to buy items such as polony and cheese in Botswana and South Africa so that I pack a variety of foodstuffs for her during the week.

“As mothers, we should work hard and try to set aside a budget for our kids so that they don’t feel ashamed of their lunch packs,” said Lee McHoney.
Sibekiwe Ndlovu, a local businesswoman whose daughter is enrolled at a private school, agreed with McHoney saying it is important to set aside a budget for lunch packs.

“Kids generally don’t like lunch packs with bread so it becomes difficult trying to figure out what to pack in their lunch boxes. I find it easier to set aside a weekly budget for my daughter and try to spice up things by packing various items for her lunch so that she doesn’t feel that she takes the same food to school every day,” said Ndlovu. – @RaymondJaravaza