On May 25th last year, I had lunch with my writing group and tentatively raised an idea that had been niggling at me for a week or two. I’d recently joined our district’s Food Services Parent Advisory Committee (reluctantly because, after all, my own kids won’t even eat school food), and then, realizing how much I had to learn about the byzantine National School Lunch Program, I’d read Janet Poppendeick’s Free For All: Fixing School Food in America — a consciousness-raising experience. Between what I’d learned from my reading and what I was hearing at our PAC meetings, suddenly I felt like I had a lot to say.
“Um, I’m not really sure, but think maybe I want to blog about school food?” To which fellow writer Jenny Staff Johnson replied with complete certainty, “Of course you should.”
Buoyed by her reaction, I went home and searched for a domain name and the next morning, May 26th, The Lunch Tray was born. For a person who’s not very spontaneous, it’s funny how little forethought I gave to what would turn out to be an all-consuming project.
And when I say “all-consuming,” people, I’m not kidding. Guess how many words I’ve posted on TLT to date? Ballpark estimate: over half a million. Holy (organic) guacamole.
OK, now everyone raise hands if you can remember when the blog looked like this:
If your hand is in the air, you absolutely win the “TLT Early Adopter Award” since that first, ugly layout was replaced within two weeks, proving some things actually do improve with age.
In the intervening year, I’ve “met” so many people, from dedicated readers who’ve shared their insights and experiences, to experts, fellow bloggers and even a few celebrities doing some really amazing things in the kid-and-food world. It’s been such a nice surprise that writing for my own pleasure would ultimately introduce me to a community of engaged and stimulating people who have taught me so much more than I could have imagined.
So thanks to all of you who’ve made this past year so fulfilling. In return, if you’re moved to leave a comment on this momentous occasion (and really, how could you not be?), I’ll use a random number generator at 12pm CST tomorrow (May 27) to award three readers the prize of their choice — a highly-sought-after Lunch Tray fridge magnet, or a genuine, vintage school lunch tray (yeah, I just might have a few of those left over from the recent lunch tray photo shoot.)
And now I’m off to celebrate TLT’s first birthday with a vanilla cupcake from my fave cupcake shop.
And no, I will not be eating it in a public school classroom.
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