school lunch

Farm to School: A Maryland Perspective

A couple of weeks ago, when my kids brought home their school cafeteria’s lunch menu, I noticed a couple of interesting items. First, the menu now noted the number of calories in every item served, from pizza to carrot sticks. My eight-year-old twin daughter and son and my seven-year old daughter are a bit young to appreciate the idea of measuring the amount of energy food provides; but it’s important to know, and I’m glad the school has introduced the concept.

Even more interesting to me was a short blurb on the menu’s inner page: “Fresh from the farm! Locally grown fruits and vegetables will be featured on the menu from September 13-17, 2010, to promote Maryland Home Grown School Lunch Week. Melons, cherry tomatoes, red and green peppers, lettuce and cucumbers are some of the Maryland agricultural products that will be served in the cafeteria.”

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What's Your Good Food Resolution for This School Year? Tell Us for the Chance to Win a Year of Free Organic Milk from Organic Valley

Ah, autumn! The leaves are starting to change color. The air is crisp and clear. School is back in full swing, with all of the excitement and change it brings each year. My family is still adjusting to the new schedule.

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Renegade Lunch Lady Ann Cooper Takes On Another School-Lunch Makeover

Last week, I stepped back in time to have lunch in a high school cafeteria. Only this time, it was with Renegade Lunch Lady, Ann Cooper. Ann built a national reputation from her work with the School Lunch Initiative to bring healthy, whole foods into school lunchrooms throughout the Berkeley, California, school district. Now she was in Boulder, Colorado, to do the same thing. As I pulled together research for my visit, I became convinced that California’s loss was Colorado’s coup. You can have Jamie Oliver, West Virginia. We’ll take Ann Cooper.

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Takeaways From the 2010 Kellogg Foundation Food & Community Gathering

I was excited to be included at this year's W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food & Community Networking Meeting, held from April 27 - 29 in Chandler, Arizona. Even before I got there, I knew I was going to be able to meet the people behind lots of amazing food-related projects and websites, hear about their progress, and connect on important issues. Advance materials from the Kellogg Foundation informed me that:

Food & Community is based on the precept that all segments of a community must work together to surround children with healthy food and routine physical activity in the places they live, work, and play.

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The Revolution Was Televised: Looking Back at Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

Over the last two months, ABC aired Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, a six-episode reality series documenting the English chef's mission to improve school food in Huntington, West Virginia. (The preview episode was the subject for one of my previous posts for Simple, Good and Tasty.) Was it a success?

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Announcing the Winners of Our School Lunch Challenge

Friends, the time has come. We laughed. We cried. (Okay, mostly we cried.) We shared great stories and strong feelings. We ate lunch with our kids and lived to tell engaging stories about the terrific lunch ladies (and cook managers) in our schools; our country's restrictions, policies, and prices; and how much ranch dressing you can put on a piece of pizza.

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Observations from a School Lunch with My Kids - and the Cook Manager

Today is the deadline for entries for the “Eat Lunch with Your Kids” contest. Thanks to all of you who have sent such terrific stories about your school lunch with your sons and daughters. If you haven't sent us your entry, please do so today -- or you’ll miss your chance to win a one-year supply of Organic Valley milk and much more!

Although I’m not allowed participate in the contest, I did commit to eating lunch at school with my twin eight-year-olds. And taking pictures and writing about it. So two weeks ago, I packed their lunches (as I usually do) and planned to meet them at 12:00 sharp in the school cafeteria -- only they would be eating Annie's organic, whole-wheat macaroni and cheese with peas; Gala apples; Minneola tangerines; local carrots; and organic lemonade, and I would be eating:

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Is Packing My Kids' Lunches a Privilege or a Pain in the Apple?

School lunches have come under some serious scrutiny as of late, and, it seems, not a moment too soon. As Americans try to find explanations for our growing obesity epidemic, the food available to children during the school day is being fingered as one of myriad culprits. I was horrified to read about the low cost, low quality, highly processed junk consistently fed to American children, day in and day out, under the National School Lunch Program. I was fired up and inspired after watching Jamie Oliver’s impassioned TED prize acceptance speech and call to arms to try to recapture our lost food culture by teaching children about cooking and eating good, fresh food.

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School Lunch Contest Deadline Extended

Thanks to a big national push and the large group of moms in Colorado who told us that running a school lunch contest during their kids' spring break was unkind, we are officially extending the deadline for school lunch contest entries until Friday, April 9, 2010. We will be posting our top entries and gathering votes during the week of April 12, and announcing the winner on April 19.

Click here to read details about our school lunch challenge, including rules and prizes (like lunchboxes and free organic milk from Organic Valley for a year). 

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Were the Good Old Days of School Lunch Really That Good?

Last week, while going through a box of old things my father saved before he died, my younger brother found this old school lunch menu. It's from Valley Stream Union Free District Thirteen in NY (my family spent several years at Howell Road Elementary School in that district), and it's dated 1976. My dad was a pretty sentimental guy, so I'm not terribly surprised that he saved a menu from when we were kids.

I find the menu fascinating, and not just because there are still union free school districts in this country. I've been thinking a lot about what was on the menu back in 1976 in the context of the some of the comments you've posted related to our article "An Open Letter to Our Children: We're Sorry About School Lunch." For example, Ginger wrote:

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