3 Ways to Celebrate National School Lunch Week

With an ability to bring joy, share love, and pull people together, food is a powerful force of nature and nurture. That’s why we do what we do, right? 

National School Lunch Week is coming up October 10-14, and we think the theme is right-on: Peace, Love & School Lunch

Are you ready to celebrate?

Here are a few ideas to help you get into this year’s groovy theme followed by some exciting news about a new grant opportunity to receive up to $150,000 from USDA Food and Nutrition Services.

Caring for the Planet and Themselves

Today’s students are more health conscious and environmentally aware than ever before. They tend to be more receptive to trying new foods, especially if they consider those foods to be better for them or show love for our planet and community.  

Transform your serving line, salad bars, or merchandising carts into a showcase of foods student can feel good about.

  • Plant-based foods
  • Locally grown food bar
  • “Ugly” or misshapen produce bar that shows different can be kind of cool

Equipment Tip

Versa Food Bars by Cambro provide a flexible merchandising solution to serve cold menu items like the ones listed above anywhere on campus. 

This portable and non-electric system keeps food cold for hours without ice. It’s easy to keep clean, and provides years of reliable service for everything from fresh salads to baked potato toppings to prepackaged sandwiches and single-serve beverages.

Building Connection with Global Cuisine

Exposure to a variety of global foods can help build connection, appreciation, and acceptance amongst students of varying backgrounds. Easy-to-prepare foods are a great place to start to build staff’s confidence in preparing international cuisine and introduce students to global foods.

Students will peace out over foods like these delicious global treasures that show we have more in common than we might think.

  • Hummus and carrots
  • Guacamole on toast or with dipping veggies
  • Chicken and yellow rice

Equipment Tip

The Compact Vegetable Prep Machine CA-21 by Sammic provides a quick and consistent way to prepare fresh-made international favorites like guacamole, hummus, and tzatziki sauce. 

See how this versatile tool works to help you make fresh foods tailored to your students’ taste in this video.

Adding Comforts of Home

Just imagine the aroma of fresh baked goods in the cafeteria or wafting through the halls and corridors! Your students will be feeling the love with a fresh-baked treat as a snack or part of a reimbursable meal, whether it’s baked from scratch or heated and served.

A few homestyle crowd-pleasers to consider:

  • Buttermilk biscuits
  • Cornbread muffins
  • Whole grain rolls or cinnamon rolls

Equipment Tip

Retherm Ovens by FWE provide high volume heating and finishing of pre-cooked foods, without overcooking or dehydration—perfect for heat-and-serve biscuits, rolls, and breadsticks that will bring joy to everyone’s day!  

These versatile retherm ovens are offered in a variety of models and sizes for cooking and holding food on various sizes of trays and pans in the kitchen, cafeteria, or alternate serving areas.

Grant Opportunity Alert!

USDA Food and Nutrition Services has announced the Healthy Meals Incentives grant program to aid small and rural school districts in meeting or exceeding school nutrition standards. Grant recipients will receive up to $150,000 each to help them overcome various challenges, including the rising cost of food, staffing shortages, lack of space, and outdated kitchen equipment.

The awards program will also recognize schools that have made significant improvements to the nutritional quality of their meals, such as:

  • Exceeding nutrition requirements for sodium and whole grains;
  • Reducing added sugars in school breakfasts;
  • Implementing innovative practices in scratch cooking and nutrition education; and/or
  • Providing meals that reflect the cultures of their students.

The request for applications is open to all nongovernmental organizations through Nov. 28, 2022. For more information about the Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative, the following link provides valuable resources such as important dates, application request link, and an informational webinar registration link: https://www.fns.usda.gov/grant/hmi-recognition-awards-sfas-cooperative-agreement

We wish you a fun and successful National School Lunch Week. We’re proud to be a resource for you as you prepare for this special week and as you manage your program all year long.

If you have questions or need help brainstorming additional ideas and equipment solutions, contact us!