Tag Archives: school lunches

Back to School

Hard to believe the summer is slowly coming to a close. For some, school has already started. For others, it’s coming up in a week or so, and for most of us in New Jersey school starts in September. Since school is creeping up on us, I thought I’d take time to share some things that have helped me get lunch prep for school days easier.


One thing I have learned is that preparation is key. Nothing beats reaching into the freezer and pulling out a ready-made lunch. One of the best things I do is purchase bread and lay the slices on the counter. Half get peanut butter, the other half get jelly. Into a zip lock bag they go and get stacked in the freezer. Sure, you could buy those Crustables, but why spend the money on something you can do yourself, and you can control the health of it too (whole wheat bread, organic natural peanut butter and organic jelly).

The other thing I do is to break down a bag of snacks into individual portion sizes. I will take pretzels, organic popcorn and package it so that when I prepare lunches the night before all I have to do is grab a bag.

ImageOne of my most favorite “tools” for packing lunches are these Fit to Fresh sets (I buy mine at Home Goods). They have freezeable packs that fit into the containers. I will pack sandwiches, fruit, pepperoni and cheese, whatever needs to stay cold in these the night before. In the morning, I slip in the freezer pack and throw in the lunch bag.

Another thing I have purchased are the re-usable sandwich and snack bags. I purchased these white and purple ones at Target (similar here). You can wash the insides and even throw in the washer.

I also know, one of the hardest things is trying to come up with lunch ideas to keep things interesting. Who wants the same boring thing in their lunch? The following blogs have some great ideas:

50 Lunch Box Ideas

10 Ways to Switch Up Your Kids Lunch

I would love to hear any tips or tricks you have to make mornings easier.


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Pyschology to Make School Lunches More Appealing

Schools are trying to make healthy food more appealing to students.  Seems bans on junk food and soda have been backfiring. And we all know, presentation matters! Schools are trying to make healthy food appear more interesting and exciting. Makes you wonder what’s going on in your schools, doesn’t it?

Taken from news.yahoo.com

By MARILYNN MARCHIONE, AP Medical Writer – Tue Oct 12, 9:21 pm ET

Hide the chocolate milk behind the plain milk. Get those apples and oranges out of stainless steel bins and into pretty baskets. Cash-only for desserts.

These subtle moves can entice kids to make healthier choices in school lunch lines, studies show. Food and restaurant marketers have long used similar tricks. Now the government wants in on the act.

[Related: 7 marketing tricks you’re falling for at supermarket]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced what it called a major new initiative Tuesday, giving $2 million to food behavior scientists to find ways to use psychology to improve kids’ use of the federal schoollunch program and fight childhood obesity.

A fresh approach is clearly needed, those behind the effort say.

About one-third of children and teens are obese or overweight. Bans on soda and junk food have backfired in some places. Some students have abandoned school meal programs that tried to force-feed healthy choices. When one school district put fruit on every lunch tray, most of it ended up in the garbage.

So instead of pursuing a carrot or a stick approach, schools want to entice kids to choose the carrot sticks, figuring children are more likely to eat something they select themselves.

Click HERE to read entire article.


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Bringing Better Food to Public Schools, One Farm at a Time

At the last Farm to Cafeteria Conference held in Detroit, Michigan last week, keynote speaker Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary for the Department of Agriculture reassured America that the health of our children is a top priority. Obesity prevention is a legitimate undertaking of the Obama Administration (specifically the cause of our First Lady) and it all starts with what you put on their plates in that multi-purpose room.

THIS, a typical school lunch in America vs...

According to the Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch Project, the trailblazing most-successful program of its kind, enthusiastic food service and education is the key. Cooking and bringing enthusiasm to fresh produce  should be the bridge that makes these children want to eat their veggies instead of loathe them. If there are willing sources of good nutrition, and schools in need, than what’s the problem? How come farm-to-cafeteria programs haven’t been institutionalized to a greater degree?

Delving into the National School Lunch Program and common school district policy may reveal answers. Consider the following truths (of which I’m sure many readers can think back to and remember): Lunch periods, especially in elementary schools, are usually limited to approximately twenty-five minutes. Labor is the largest expense in the food service industry.

Consequently, schools can only afford to buy pre-packed, frozen meals (fun fact: most school district vegetable plans include only ready-to-eat peas, sliced carrot pieces and shredded lettuce) instead of procuring fresh produce and actually cooking meals.healthy-school-lunch

However, there are plenty of people championing for the cause. Take Chef Ann Cooper, dubbed fondly by the media as the Renegade Lunch Lady. She keeps up an amazing blog about her work to change the school lunches. Her dedication to what she calls the Food, Family, and Farm program have resulted in transforming Berkeley, California’s public school system from 95 percent processed foods to 95 percent hot meals made from scratch! In her latest blog entry she writes, “Might as well say it straight up: Kids don’t like vegetables…The chefs in Berkeley are sneaky. They load 125 pounds of fresh onions, carrots and celery into every batch of marinara sauce they make for their pizza and pasta. Could the solution to our national angst over getting kids to eat more vegetables possibly be mirepoix?”

The pairing is a win-win situation. What it starts with are two negative situations: the dying industry of individual/family based farms as well as the sub-par and often times unhealthy nutrition offered to children in America. Farm-to-school programs help alleviate both of these issues. Obviously, farm products are fresher, and you know what you’re getting which isn’t alwasy the case with processed foodstuffs. It also benefits these farms by giving them a new market and a connection to the communities. Also interesting to note is the atmosphere of equality high-quality food brings to these public schools. Families of all incomes and all backgrounds attend public schools and being able to have access to the same food every school day is a considerable form of social justice.

If you serve it, they will come.

To read the full Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch Report, funded by the USDA as well as the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, click here.

Taken from Globalshift.org


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