WALLA WALLA - Carolina Dietsch, who has two children in district schools, packed sack lunches for years before deciding this year to open meal accounts.
She's learned from her 10-year-old daughter, an Edison Elementary student, that burritos and corn dogs are good, she prefers salad most days, and that jalapeos are among the choices.
"I thought it was comical," Dietschsaid about the jalapeos.
To get her daughter and 13-year-old son ready for school meals, she offered some practical advice.
"I tell them whenever you get food, just make sure you get what you're going to eat," she said.
Brenda Anliker sometimes packs a small lunch at home, but still lets her daughter and son eat some things from school.
"I think some people haven't thought about that, about taking a little bit of your own and eating a little bit at the school," she said.
Her kids are new to Prospect Point Elementary this year, and also new to public school lunches after years at a private school.
Anliker said she doesn't worry too much about the choices her children are making, because she knows they'll eat well at home, and that even sack lunches don't always get eaten.
"To me it make sense that they're making food the kids eat," she said. "They could make super healthy food and the kids will just dump it in the garbage."
Another bonus for Anliker is that some items are offered every day. Her 10-year-old son, who has Asperger's Syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder) will eat chicken nuggets every day.
"That's actually a bonus for me," she said. "For kids with AS, they like consistency. They don't like change at all. For me that's good."
Anliker said she remembers her own days of being served lunch in public school.
"Lunches are different now," she said. "They get more choices. We didn't have choices. It was like, today is spaghetti."
On the other hand, there may also still be room to improve even with what is offered.
"They do kind of have a lot of choices," she added. "Three is a nice number. Sometimes you give kids too many choices, and everything takes longer."
Maria Gonzalez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8317.