Thankful for Students, Schools Provide Holiday Lunch Celebrations

Ask anyone about their favorite school meal as a child and the Thanksgiving turkey lunch usually comes to mind. The love of the turkey day meal remains, but much has changed about what it looks like today. Schools have created new recipes and ways to incorporate turkey in their meals, with a variety of trays, bowls, dishes or curbside pickup containers needed to deliver holiday traditions. Through soups, pot pies, sandwiches, whether carved, sliced, roasted, cubed or diced, turkey is still the star of the show.

Thanksgiving school meal sides include everything from whole grain rolls, mashed potatoes, sweet potato mash, roasted potatoes, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, salad, sweat peas and yams, to seasoned corn, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, broccoli and fresh fruit.

Autauga County Schools (AL) uses compartment-style shell containers to keep holiday meal components in their space, careful not to let the turkey gravy run into the veggies. Individual sweet strawberry pies get their own container as well. The district has four meal distribution sites through the month of December to reach students learning remotely.

Autauga County Schools (AL)

Gilmer County Schools (GA) served 630 in-person Thanksgiving meals this year, featuring turkey, mashed potatoes, seasoned corn, green beans, homemade dressing, homemade sweet potato soup, spinach salad, harvest fruit salad and apple cobbler.

Gilmer County Schools (GA)

Dessert is always a fun way to end a traditional Thanksgiving meal and school lunch is no different. A variety of fruit pies, cranberry dishes and muffins have become student favorites. Ralston Public Schools (NE) have made a tradition of their secret-recipe cranberry fluff, something students look forward to every year.

Ralston Public Schools (NE)

Sandwiches and turkey noodle soup are among the ways schools take the traditional Thanksgiving meal to new heights! Whether their students are learning remotely, in-person or in a hybrid situation, school nutrition professionals across the country have worked hard to maintain beloved traditions for their students and staff.

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