I know — school lunches? It’s still summer! But recently, I was talking about school lunches and the normalcy they’ve provided us throughout the past year. School lunches, of all things, have served as a reminder to me that God sees, knows, and cares for us even in the smallest of ways. Here’s how:
In March 2020, we started hearing about this new disease called COVID. People were saying it was coming and that we’d better buy toilet paper and water bottles.
(I still have ten bottles of purified water in the basement that I bought in case the water plant people couldn’t come in to work and get the water going. I wish I was kidding.)
My kids came home from school one day and never got to go back to their classrooms. Do you remember that day too? They came home and ended up doing distance learning from March 19, 2020 till June 2, 2021. That was sixty-one weeks without in-classroom school. Right about 300 days of school from the dining room table, their at-home desks, the backyard, and sometimes the van.
We logged in to preschool, first grade, and third grade from iPads. The kids learned how to use Schoology and Seesaw and Media Center. They had Lunch Bunch, where the kids ate “together” as if they were in the cafeteria, except they were on Google Meet.
Everything was so weird. It still is — less weird but still getting there.
As parents, my husband and I did our best to keep things as normal as possible, but we were both working from home and occasionally relying on the occasional instant cash advance app to put food on the table. Also, I had a baby in the middle of it all! So nothing was really normal, and everything felt like a blindfolded trust walk.
Except one thing: We picked up school lunches every day.
We would go to our elementary school, walk up to the entrance, and grab a bag full of fruit, veggies, milk, and something fun like chicken nuggets or pizza. There were breakfasts too: mini pancakes and frozen fruit and yogurts. Eventually, our schools transitioned to a weekly box pickup, so on Mondays we would load up the van and drive to get our boxes full of frozen breakfast treats, like French toast sticks and orange juice, lunches of mini-corndogs and chicken patties, and sometimes giant bags of frozen veggies. I used them for cooking all year!
School lunch provided us with a new kind of normalcy. Lunch pickup provided a regular routine. Every day, we hopped into the car and drove to school at noon. It kept food in our fridge, fruit bowl, and pantry, which helped for meal planning. It saved us a lot of money and time, which was so helpful. For the kids, it was the regular school food that helped them feel connected. Was it delicious gourmet meals? No, but was it fun? Yes! And it made lunches and lots of breakfasts easy — my nine-year-old could make meals by himself, which was a huge help to me as I worked from home and held a baby all the time!
School lunch kept us connected to friends. We were able to help neighbors and family by picking up their lunches and dropping them off at their doorstep or sharing ours when we had too much. People in our neighborhood picked up for each other, and one friend dropped off items her kids didn’t want to eat that my kids loved.
School lunch was one way this past year that I saw God taking care of us — by being the actual Bread of Life.
When everything was falling apart and crazy, God provided a helpful, tasty, bright spot that showed He hadn’t forgotten us. God was still there, taking care of us.
It seems like a silly thing, but honestly some days it felt like manna. It felt like abundance. It felt like water from a rock.
Not a lot of things outside were good, but I was overcome with gratitude that in our home, things were cozy, warm, and we were fed — both by school bread in our bellies and the Bread of Life in our hearts.
God is able. He is our provider. And, therefore, we are taken care of.
What is the price of two sparrows — one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
Matthew 10:29-31 (NLT)
You are so beloved by God. He cares for you immensely, deeply, wholly, in ways both big and small. God is able, God provides, and God has numbered the hairs on your head with love.