I attended Normandin Junior High School for three years during the early 1970s, so this article is about my experience.

Replace Normandin with Keith Junior High School or Roosevelt Junior High School – or even New Bedford High School – and the experience will likely be similar, if not the same.

Normandin was my first "full day" school experience. At Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, students were dismissed for lunch at noon and returned to school for the afternoon session. Most days, I had lunch at home.

There was no noon dismissal at Normandin. Lunch was in the cafeteria. That meant bringing a metal lunchbox or paper bag containing a mom-prepared lunch or buying what was available that day in the cafeteria.

Lunch Break At New Bedford's Normandin Junior High
Spinner Publications

There were no choices and no vending machines. You ate what was served by the kitchen staff or you went without.

The New Bedford Standard-Times published the coming week's menu each Sunday, which was helpful in preparing.

Lunch was prepared right there on the premises. In later years, the food was trucked in from some central kitchen somewhere.

Lunch Break At New Bedford's Normandin Junior High
Spinner Publications

Some of the food at Normandin wasn't half bad, and some was not half good, either. I had my favorites.

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Fifty years later, I recall the chicken with gravy on a miniature scoop of pasty rice. The chicken was usually served with canned green beans. Not terrible, especially if topped off with an ice cream sandwich and a carton of milk.

Not bad for 50 cents.

The fish sticks with creole sauce and the square-shaped plain pizza – ah, not so much.

Lunch Break At New Bedford's Normandin Junior High
Spinner Publications

It seems the kids with the Brady Bunch or Monkees lunch boxes got more and better food packed with love from their mothers, but we were too cool for school and way too cool to carry a lunch box.

We ate the pasty white rice.

Besides, the lunch break in junior high school was more about socializing and learning about the pecking order than eating anyway.

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