New Recipes and Local Foods on the Menu for Lunch Week

October is a special month for school food, with National Farm to School Month,  celebrations for National School Lunch Week and National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day. Some districts celebrate these events on different days due to fall vacations and holidays, but the message is all the same – healthy and local ingredients are on the menu in schools across the US!

Many schools show their love of local by offering taste tests of new products and recipes, incorporating farm fresh produce and making school lunches from scratch.

In Utah, Provo City School District (PCSD) locally grown potatoes were used in a baked potato bar, where students could customize their lunch with whatever toppings they chose on a baked potato PCSD also featured locally grown pumpkins in an educational session about local farming and ways to use the seeds, called pepitas, as easy, nutrient-rich snacks. A farmer visited Provost Elementary School to talk about the harvest process and PCSD dietetics intern created lightly salted pumpkin seeds for students to try.

Chelsea Public Schools (MA) featured local pears for the Harvest of the Month during NSLW.

Chelsea Public Schools (MA) created creamy pear puree and popsicles using locally harvested pears as part of a Massachusetts School Harvest of the Month program.

In addition to using local ingredients, schools also debuted new recipe and menu options for students. Heard County High School (GA) offered delicious pulled pork over hickory fries, complete with sides of baby carrots, green beans and milk. A macaroni and cheese bar featured some amazing choices for students at Greenville County Schools (SC), including turkey meatballs, ground Angus beef or spicy chicken toppings. Hickory Hill Milk from nearby Edgefield (SC) was used to make the macaroni and cheese for the menu. And in De Pere School District (WI), a bounty produced by school gardens was featured in a wheat pasta dish with sauce made from their own tomatoes and basil.

School meals must meet school food nutrition standards, oftentimes that means making healthy modifications to classic favorites or regional specialties.

School food service staff In Livingston Parish Public Schools (LA) created homemade, healthy Cajun gumbo for its students during NSLW. In Henry County School System (TN), scratch-made poppyseed chicken was on the menu for Lakewood School students and staff.

Another favorite event is National Take Your Parent To Lunch Day, where parents and guardians are invited to the enjoy the cafeteria experience with their child firsthand! Some schools host a Take Your Grandparents To Lunch Day, while others host picnics so that parents can check out their student’s school meal options. Schools like Gilles-Sweet Elementary  in Fairview Park City Schools (OH) created a video to invite parents down to eat lunch with students.

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