By Tamieka Muns, Public Affairs Specialist, Food and Nutrition Service
School lunch sometimes gets a bad rap. But I am here to tell you that school lunch is amazing and looks a lot different than what you may remember if you’re a kid of the 90s, like me.
Last week, I volunteered at my son’s school. As lunchtime approached, the students were lined up in two lines: packed lunch and school lunch. The teacher announced, “Today, the cafeteria is serving popcorn chicken!” Immediately, several kids jumped from the packed lunch line to the school lunch line. That’s when I knew I was in for a treat!
As we were walking towards the cafeteria, my son’s teacher told me to try the zesty meatloaf. I was already excited for popcorn chicken, but I decided to take her advice.
This is not what school lunch looked like when I was kid. The meatloaf did not disappoint and neither did the mashed potatoes and broccolini. I can say with certainty that the school lunch my son receives is far more nutritious than anything I would pack for him.
There was also a fantastic salad bar featuring locally grown produce. Kids were piling their plates with fruits and veggies…especially cucumbers. Did you know that FNS awards grants to support schools in purchasing equipment like salad bars, to allow them to serve nutritious meals to students? You can learn more about these equipment grants.
I happened to be visiting during Virginia’s Farm to School Week. USDA’s Farm to School Program awards grants to help connect students to the sources of their food through education, taste tests, school gardens, field trips, and local food sourcing for school meals. Schools and other eligible organizations looking to improve access to local foods in their child nutrition programs can apply for a Farm to School Grant between now and Jan. 6, 2023.
Since I communicate about school meals as a part of my job, I know that they are the healthiest meals kids receive each day. But now I know firsthand just how tasty they can be!
Outside of the amazing food I ate, the other standout was the amazing food service staff. They serve the children with such pride, patience, and love. So, to all of the school nutrition professionals out there, Happy National School Lunch Week! We salute you!