Tired of poor lunch choices, we were contacted by a parent who was interested in finding healthier school food options for her children. As a small operation, we hadn’t even considered creating a school lunch program, but parents were so eager to provide better food options for their children that we created a program unique to the school’s needs.
Surprisingly, we found that the kids were just as interested in eating healthy options as we were to provide them. Our menus were similar to standard school offerings — easy and kid-friendly, with recognizable selections — except for a distinct difference in the quality of components: pizzas with whole wheat crusts and local organic vegetables, whole grain pasta with hormone-free meatballs, non-traditional menu items like cous cous, brown rice, baked non-breaded chicken bites. Interestingly, in spite of the gaps, we obtained routine praise from parents excited over their kids ‘ interest in healthier food items. Kids who had never enjoyed certain foods were starting to ask for them at home.
Many developed a preference for foods they had never tried before. Over the course of the two years, word spread about our small program, with nine additional regional schools inquiring about creating similar operations. Though we were too little to ease all of the requests, it was clear that there was both a need and a desire within the community to provide healthier school lunches.