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Loving Others at Lunch Time

Loving Others at Lunch Time

Lunch time in the school cafeteria can be both a positive and negative experience for children. On the one hand, it is lunch, and food often makes us happy, but it’s also social time with friends. It’s exciting to see our buddies after a long morning of learning, but what happens when our children don’t have friends, or when the other children make them sit alone because they’re just not cool enough. Let’s face it, lunch time can be really hard for children who feel like they don’t fit in.

If we’re not careful, the school cafeteria can become a dreaded place for the child who doesn’t know how to fit in or whose lunch isn’t as delicious as the child next to them. The traditional school mashed potatoes aren’t as pretty as the carefully iced sugar cookies that mom packs in the lunch bag, and the school pizza cannot top the Domino’s pepperoni leftovers. Also remember that some children live in high poverty homes where mom or dad don’t have money for lunch, so the child is stuck with a simple peanut butter sandwich every day and never receives cute stickers or encouraging notes on the lunch napkin.

Because of the challenges presented by the cafeteria, it’s critical that we teach our children how to love and accept those around them. We want our children to develop the heart of Christ so they are inspired and willing to sit down next to the child who is feeling left out and share a meal. Or, we hope they have the guts to say, “Why don’t you eat with us today? I don’t want you to eat alone.”

As parents, grandparents, and mentors for children, let’s help our children understand that some of their friends are very hungry because they don’t have food at home. If they notice that a child never has classroom snacks or devours the school lunch hurriedly, maybe that’s a sign that shared food would be a great way to bridge a new friendship.

Most importantly, let’s teach our children that Jesus often ate with others. He took the time to sit down and talk with families and individuals, feeling most comfortable in people’s homes and at their places of business. Jesus always went to where the people were, and he loved the ones that people thought didn’t measure up. The New Testament Jesus is a great model for knowing how to approach old and new friends in the cafeteria, in the park, at the mall, or even in the movie theater. Let’s encourage our children to regularly notice those around them and to share both food and fun conversation so that nobody feels left out. That’s what Jesus would do!

By: Dr. Lori Brown is a southern educator and writer who enjoys inspiring families to remain grounded in their faith.

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