Read This Roundtable Discussion About School Food — Plus More School Food News!

Happy September, TLTers!

Everyone’s kiddos should be back to school by now, and I’m devoting today’s post to a bunch of school food news items I’ve been collecting over the last few weeks.

A Fantastic School Food Roundtable Discussion

Civil Eats, the excellent food policy daily, has been celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with a series of roundtable discussions on topics ranging from food safety to farm labor practices. Today, it shares the transcript of its school food roundtable, and I was honored to be part of the discussion.

I was joined in conversation by Janet Poppendieck, the Hunter College sociology professor who wrote Free for All: Fixing School Food in America (the very book that inspired me to start The Lunch Tray in 2010!); Betti Wiggins, the progressive school nutrition director who reformed Detroit’s school food and how is now working in my own district, Houston ISD; and Gay Anderson, president of the School Nutrition Association (SNA) and the school nutrition director at the Brandon Valley School District in South Dakota.

It was truly thrilling to be able to participate in this kind of free-wheeling conversation with three women I so greatly admire, and thanks to the editors of Civil Eats for giving me the opportunity!

More School Food News

And now here are other school food-related news items I’ve wanted to share with you:

  • A Reuters update on the two lawsuits pending in federal court challenging the Trump administration’s school nutrition roll-backs.  [Updated  9/10 to add: A number of leading public health and other organizations, including the American Heart Association, American Public Health Association, FoodCorps, MomsRising, and National Education Association, have also filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in one of the two federal lawsuits against the USDA.]
  • An important—and troubling—Washington Post article about how ridiculously short lunch periods are harming kids.
  • A piece in the Guardian arguing that school cafeterias should be at the frontlines of changing food policy. (The writer apparently has an entire book on this topic coming out in November, for those who are interested in learning more.)
  • A Boston Globe story from August, exploring the idea of universal school meals to prevent lunch shaming (I’m quoted.)
  • Grants are now available for school districts interested in participating in the Chef Ann Foundation’s intensive, three-year “Get Schools Cooking” training.
  • A Food Tank round-up of 16 inspiring school garden initiatives, both here in America and abroad.
  • An inspiring short video I recently came across, created by the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, reminding all of us that the Health, Hunger-Free Kids Act was a hugely important achievement for America’s children—and one that must be preserved.

Help With Lunch Box-Packing

Finally, for those of you who are now staring at an empty lunch box each morning and already feel out of ideas (not gonna lie: I really don’t miss those days!), I’ll sign off with some inspiration to get you going:

  • Six tips for easy school lunches from Katie Morford at Mom’s Kitchen Handbook
  • Five common lunch box mistakes, and how to avoid them, from Sally Kuzemchak at Real Mom Nutrition
  • 52 quick and easy lunch box ideas from Bon Appetit
  • 50+ lunch box recipes from The Kitchn
  • The Lunch Tray‘s own “It Takes a Village to Pack a Lunch” series, which ran from 2010 to 2016.


Follow TLT on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, subscribe to Lunch Tray posts, and download my FREE 50-page guide, “How to Get Junk Food Out of Your Child’s Classroom.” You can also now pre-order my new book Kid Food: The Challenge of Feeding Children in a Highly Processed World —coming out this fall!

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