Salisbury steak, meatloaf sandwich, sloppy joes… As Adam Sandler once illustrated in his Lunch Lady Land lyrics, school lunch menus have been in need of a makeover for a long time. Some positive changes have been made but there’s still room for improvement, namely to get more whole foods onto kids’ lunch trays. These local initiatives are on the right track. See how you can join in and support them:
- Whole Foods is raising funds to help put a salad bar in 300 schools by January. The Great American Salad Bar Project initiated by Chef Ann Cooper, “The Renegade Lunch Lady”. You can make a donation at the Devon Whole Foods Market or at www.saladbarproject.org. Even better, petition to get a salad bar at your child’s school by contacting the school district’s superintendent, school principal and/or the school nutrition director and ask them to apply for a salad bar project grant. But hurry! Deadline for applications is November 15th.
- The West Chester Area School District posts a wellness lesson and spotlights a particular vegetable and fruit along with the monthly school lunch menu and other nutritional information on their website.
- Project PA promotes Farm to School programs in Pennsylvania which “connect schools with local farms to provide healthy foods in schools, improve students’ dietary habits, provide hands-on nutrition education opportunities, foster stronger connections within communities, and support local farmers.” Farm to School initiatives in Chester County include Food for thought at Kimberton Waldorf School and the Great Valley Food Service Garden. The Kimberton Waldorf School’s main source of fresh vegetables and fruits is their own organic school garden. They also rely on local farms for fresh produce as well as locally produced biodynamic yogurt, cream, milk and organic whole grain bread and pizza dough. The Great Valley Food Service Garden in Malvern harvests produce from a garden where community members and families adopt the garden for a week in the summer. The school kitchen freezes, chops, pickles, and purees the produce and involves students as much as possible. They provide student taste tests, summer camps, nutrition activities, and scavenger hunts. The produce is also used in the Farmers Market at the High School and the Middle school.
- The Seed to Snack program is designed to help youth think about the origins of their food and to make connections between the food they eat and personal wellness. Area schools now using local produce to make nutritious snacks include East Goshen Elementary, Media Elementary School and Media Providence Friends School. The program invites volunteers of all ages to work the land a few hours during the growing season and learn more about organic and sustainable growing practices.
While waiting for your school district to get on board with some of these great programs, discover healthy lunch solutions for yourself and your children with these school lunch tools:
- Sample recipes from “Lunch Lessons: Changing the way we feed our children”
- Easy and healthy Bento lunch box ideas
- “Outside the Box” ideas from fruitsandveggiesmatter.org