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Changing Times: Back to School Lunch Menus

August 16, 2012 Le Cordon Bleu Le Cordon Bleu 0 Comments

Changing Times: Back to School Lunch Menus

If you went to grade school and high school sometime prior to the 2000s, then you likely share a school lunch experience that you and others would like to forget. Sickly iceberg lettuce that was passed off as salad. Worn out and over-salted canned vegetables pretending to be nutritious. Slices of pizza that were tougher than the soles of your shoes. And everything filled with enough preservatives, fat, and sodium to give a cardiologist nightmares.

And I won’t even touch on the topic of taste. Let’s just say that most of the stereotypes about school lunches are deservedly true. I don’t know who was responsible for these travesties masquerading as lunches, but I’m certain they weren’t culinary school graduates.

Changing Times for School Lunches

Recently, however, there have been big changes in school lunch programs. School districts have begun to embrace the idea of local, seasonal, and organic foods. Administrators and nutrition directors are realizing that school districts have failed students when it comes to nutrition in school lunches.

In more and more schools students are finding new additions like salad bars, organic milk, whole grains, organic vegetables, and grass fed meats. They are also not finding some of their old favorites. Many school districts have removed chocolate milk, baked confections, and sugary sodas.

Taste is also improving as many school districts are hiring experienced chefs and cooking school graduates who are dedicated to improving school lunches. Hopefully, these dedicated nutrition and food specialists will help to put a dent in the alarming increases in childhood diabetes and obesity.

New School Lunch Options

As school lunch programs are improving many parents are also taking care to send their brown bag lunches that are more nutritionally sound. We’ve put together a few ideas on how to improve those back-to-school brown bag lunches:

  • Plan lunches together – Kids are more likely to eat what they’ve picked. Take them to the grocery and let them pick their own tasty nutritional treats.
  • Balance is key – Lunch should be just as nutritionally balanced as any other meal of the day. Be sure that each lunch has at three of the main food groups: dairy, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  • Don’t make lunch into a snack – Avoid “treats” like cookies, chips, candy, and other empty calorie food fillers. Replace them with whole food solutions like nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies.
  • Keep it fun and exciting – Even if Junior loves soy nut and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat, he won’t like it if he gets it every day for a month. He’ll be trading that sandwich for the first pudding or Hostess fruit pie that comes his way. Provide a variety of foods so that boredom doesn’t set in at lunch.

When in doubt, just be sensible. Don’t stuff empty calories into those lunch bags. Making healthy choices for kids’ lunches will not only help them nutritionally, but also academically.

This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu. Le Cordon Bleu offers culinary arts, pâtisserie and baking, hospitality and restaurant management training programs across the United States. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu for more information.
Find disclosures on graduation rates, student financial obligations and more at www.chefs.edu/disclosures
Le Cordon Bleu® and the Le Cordon Bleu logo are registered trademarks of Career Education Corporation. Le Cordon Bleu cannot guarantee employment or salary. Credits earned are unlikely to transfer.


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