From the Kitchen

What’s on the Menu for School Lunch?

School has begun, my kids just started this week. So far, it’s all going smoothly. When the kids get home from school we talk about their day. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth trying to get them to remember what they did all day. It’s usually a story from recess! But I always try to talk to my kids about their lunch. My kids eat school lunch. I’ve been really happy with the lunch system in Seattle, so out of convenience and all the choices they offer, I’m a believer.

But I know school lunch gets a bad rap. So I’ve partnered up with the School Nutrition Association (SNA) to shed a little light on what is on the menu for school lunch these days. The SNA is a national, nonprofit organization that represents more than 55,000 members. They help to train and educate their members, mostly school district members, to provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. While the SNA is more for the school side of things, they’ve now created a new site called Tray Talk for parents to learn more about school lunch.

This is a fabulous resource. I’ve spent a lot of time checking out everything and what they offer. You can get the facts, watch a video on how parents can learn more, even visit the Tray Talk Facebook page to get involved. Share a story, ask a question, and have quick tips shared from Facebook.

For a little “tray talk” at home, from what my kids tell me, they are choosing salad (yes, amazingly), kiwi’s, watermelon, low-fat milk, and a turkey and cheese sandwich. We’re pretty nutritious in our meals at home, and we talk to our kids about what is and isn’t considered healthy, so hopefully they are learning to choose healthy options on their own at lunch. We look at the menu and talk about what they might pick for the day, so they know what they will be faced with in line. Sometimes that line goes fast and it’s a zoo, so it’s good to arm them before hand.

And even though it may say pizza on the menu, our school serves it with whole wheat crust and low-fat cheese. So as the choices on the menu still say some of the same things from years past, the ingredients are changing. This past July, the USDA came out with new guidelines requiring all schools to implement this year, including serving 1/2 cup of fruit or vegetables and food with whole grains and lower in fat.

If you’re still not sure about what is on the menu for school lunch, do a little research, visit Tray Talk, and even join your kids at lunch to see first hand what they are having. You might be surprised. And if you’re not happy, get involved. Go to your School District’s website, find the meal program or nutrition services to see what they are up to and how they are implementing the new USDA guidelines. There should even be a number to call and talk with someone on the phone.

Hopefully you find Tray Talk helpful, answering your questions and concerns. And here’s to a happy and healthy school year!

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post by, but all opinions and the choice to eat school lunch are my own.



  1. this issue is so interesting to me. our school district has a very low percentage of children who qualify for subsidized food, so they can cover the costs of those students and opt out of the government lunch system and do their own thing. our lunch come from a local company – everything is organic, blah, blah, blah. on the one hand I really appreciate that this is the option we have because I know the ingredients going into the food are high quality. on the other hand, they are not beholden to the USDA guidelines and I do find that I wish there were more fruit and veggies with some of the options, which they would have to do under the guidelines. I don’t know which system is better – pros and cons to both, but I DO know that I am soooo happy to see that things are moving in the right direction to improve food for our children. it’s very heartening! organizations like SNA are fabulous and are what will help to continue to push things for the better.

    and I love what you do with the kids at home, helping them know what will be available ahead time, etc…great idea!

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