Three elementary schools were named the winners of the 2015 National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day contest, each receiving $1,000 grants from KIWI magazine and the Whole Kids Foundation to improve their lunch programs.
Hundreds of schools across the country participated in Lunch Day, giving parents an opportunity to eat lunch with their child in the school cafeteria and learn more about what goes into putting together a healthy, balanced meal.
To enter the contest, representatives of participating schools explained why they took part in Lunch Day, highlighted the school’s existing sustainability efforts, and explained what they would do with the grant money if they won.
Let’s meet the 2015 Lunch Day winners:
East Elementary Jackson R2 Schools
The Jackson R2 school district held its first Lunch Day to “change the norm from Happy Meals and french fries to healthy meals and friendly smiles,” as its entry essay states, and to showcase the great foods being served in its schools, including locally sourced produce and dairy and bread products. Through the district’s “Eating from the Garden” program, students at several of the schools receive biweekly nutrition education and gain hands-on experience as they plant, weed, water, and harvest the crops in their eight-bed garden.
The district will use the grant money to establish a salad bar with fresh fruits and vegetables for East Elementary students and staff and to provide a free meal for all parents attending Lunch Day 2016 with a goal of further expanding the event.
Hopewell Elementary School
Hopewell, New Jersey
At Hopewell Elementary, meeting students’ health-related needs is crucial, and Lunch Day allows the school to reinforce its commitment to offering children nutritious meal options. Its new organic menu features local produce when possible, with many of the herbs and vegetables grown in the school’s own organic gardens. Hopewell offers three different after-school garden clubs and each year hosts a Farm to School event, where local farmers and chefs offer educational demonstrations and food tastings for students.
The Lunch Day grant will allow Hopewell to sponsor additional events throughout the year and expand its partnerships with local farmers and chefs.
Magnolia Montessori School
Students and staff at the Magnolia Montessori School always eat family-style lunches with healthy, farm-fresh ingredients, but Lunch Day gives the school an added opportunity to invite parents to share a healthy meal. Magnolia Montessori has its own backyard garden and maintains relationships with eight area farms to provide local food. The school also embraces hands-on education: Each week the elementary students help budget, plan, purchase, and prepare the snacks for the entire campus and help weigh the school’s recycling to determine how efforts compare to previous weeks.
Magnolia Montessori plans to use the grant to purchase more child-size kitchen tools so the kids can be more involved with food preparation. The school also intends to build a bulk food system so it can purchase fresh foods during their peak season and store them, thereby extending its food budget and helping to teach children how to make healthy food last beyond its season.
Congratulations to the winners and to all the schools that participated in National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day! For more information on Lunch Day 2016, please click here.