The recent, but short-lived Twitter hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama, was one more in a long series of efforts to vilify U.S. school nutrition programs. I’m not exactly sure why school meals continue to be a favorite target, but I do know that it’s now time to recognize the improvements and support the #RealSchoolFood enjoyed in thousands of school cafeterias every day.
The 2010 Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) – with new nutrition standards and revised meal patterns – means that schools are now leading the charge to improve the eating habits of American youth. And, the HHFKA is just one of many ‘ingredients’ making school meals something that lunch ladies and ‘food dudes’ are proud to serve from coast to coast. As Health Assistant Marlene Gleim says about Manager Loli Preciado and staff at Woodard Jr. High (Yuma (AZ) Child Nutrition Department), “These ladies cook as if you were going to eat in their actual home. Food made right from the heart!”
Does every school nutrition program deserve a five-star review? No. Is every school meal perfectly balanced? No. While there is room for improvement in some districts, bashing, blaming and pointing fingers doesn’t help. It merely perpetuates a stereotype that no longer represents the norm in school lunch or any other meal.
For the next 31 days, every day of December, School Meals That Rock will tell the #RealSchoolFood story with photos – from breakfast to supper, soup to nuts, farm to school, seed to salad bar and much more. Have concerns about food in your district? We’ll offer more specific ideas about what you can do to enhance the food served in any cafeteria.
Why? Because 20 million American children eat a free or reduced price school lunch every day. I believe that they deserve the best nutrition possible to fuel their education and their future.
I would love to be apart of this and share menus and photos from our outstanding program! My staff and I have a real passion for feeding our students. They have some great eating habits. We try to be innovative and expose them to new things.
Laura: I would love to share your menus and photos. You can send them to SchoolMealsThatRock@gmail.com. Thanks for everything you do for students! Dayle Hayes
That’s great! I will work on putting some together and send them along as soon as I can. Thanks, my staff and I are excited to share them with you.
I consult for my local district, and it has taken me over 5 years to make even the smallest of changes, but it is happening now! I write a monthly newsletter that goes out to every family in the district, and every month, I provide the food service director with two new, from-scratch meal ideas to go on the menu. This month, we are doing Macaroni and “Trees” (broccoli right in the mix) and a Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad. Last month, the Apple Harvest Chicken Salad Wrap was a hit! I am excited to follow #RealSchoolFood and get new ideas.
Thanks for your kind comments … and HARD work!! Please send photos … we would love to share your successes! Dayle