Every child deserves a school food program that supports their development and future success with healthy meals and food education. To help you get inspired, check out the following videos and articles to better understand what empowered and innovative schools can accomplish. When you’re ready, head over to the Parent Advocacy Toolkit to learn how to get started with your school or district.
Changing School Food: A Resource for Parents & Advocates
|Parents and community leaders in Boulder, Colorado reflect on the process of changing school food and the impact that it had on their district.|
Changing School Food!
|Chef Ann reflects on the significance of food in all of our lives, cafeterias as part of our children’s learning environment, and school food as a social justice issue.|
Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
|In just 12 minutes, Chef Ann sums up the major challenges to healthy school food AND how schools can “Do One Thing” to make an impact.|
Making The Case
|This two-minute animated video from The Center for Ecoliteracy makes a compelling case that healthy, freshly prepared school meals are not only important, but possible.|
Talking About School Food with Chef Ann
|Hear what experts in the field say about the best ways to improve school food and the results even small changes can make.|
“Undoubtedly one of the most rewarding times that I can think of was when we fully implemented salad bars in 29 of our 31 elementary schools in RUSD,” said Taylor. “It felt great because we were one of the two districts in the country that fully institutionalized the program. The critics told me that it could not be replicated, that it was not sustainable, and that it would not modify students eating behaviors. I just love doing what others say cannot be done.”
- Rodney Taylor, Director of Food Services, Riverside Unified School District
Here are real examples of innovative solutions to the challenges facing school food today.
- School Meal Programs Innovate to Improve Student Nutrition: Studies of schools in three states show that children's eating habits are improving under new USDA guidelines. Students are eating more fruits and vegetables and are wasting less food.
- Meet the First U.S. School District to Serve 100% Organic, GMO-Free Meals: School district in California ties nutrition to the health of the planet, focusing on local and seasonal food procurement.
- K-12 and Wasted Food: Innovations from the Heartland: Covers Minneapolis Public Schools' efforts to save money and protect the environment by increasing healthy foods and reducing food waste.
- The Kids’ Safe and Healthful Food Project: Highlights five districts across the country that were serving healthier meals before the new USDA guidelines went into effect.
- Not Your Parents School Lunch (CBS Denver): Follows seven Colorado school districts that are using innovation to create meals that meet the USDA guidelines AND have the kids clamoring for more.
“I have used many of the recipes from The Lunch Box since starting Good Food for Oxford Schools. As we have begun our transition to a scratch cooked menu and have been bringing in more local foods - the Lunch Box has been our go-to for new recipes such as the roasted broccoli and roasted cauliflower. We needed many new entree options for our menus as well, and love the chicken potpie and stir frys. The recipes are in an easy format for our cafeteria managers to use - they especially love the way the calculator allows them to explode the recipe to a larger size!”
- Sunny Young, Projects Coordinator, Good Food for Oxford Schools and Farm to School Oxford School District
The Proof is in the Peas
Changing school food really does make a difference in children’s health and eating habits. Here are some articles that share the good news of healthier school food.
- "How the Quality of School Lunch Affects Students' Academic Performance" (The Brookings Institution, 2017): Healthy school lunches result in better academic test scores, particularly for students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunches.
- "The Role of the Federal Child Nutrition Programs in Improving Health and Well-Being" (Food Research & Action Center, 2017): Healthy school lunches decrease rates of overweight and obesity, reduce behavioral problems, and positively impact students' mental health.
- "Healthy School Lunches Improve Kids' Habits" (The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2015): Study finds that kids prefer healthier lunches, resulting in an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption and reduction in food waste.
- "Start the School Day Ready to Learn with Breakfast in the Classroom" (Food Research and Action Center, 2013). This thorough but accessible report showcases the impact breakfast in the classroom has on children’s health, wellness, and academic success.
- Evaluation of the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative (Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, 2014): This landmark study demonstrates the positive impact salad bars have on increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables in schools.
“I knew our kids needed breakfast and only a few kids were participating in the traditional before-school program. The classroom breakfast program was simple to implement. Three pioneering principals agreed to pilot the concept. It flourished from there and has now expanded to 27 schools.”
- Jill Kidd, Director of Nutrition Services, Pueblo City Schools
Chef Ann on Facebook
Do One Thing
Changing an entire school food system seems like a big task, but you can Do One Thing today.