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The Lunch Box: School Lunch Recipes for Healthy Kids

Every child deserves a nourishing lunch at school. For some kids, it's their only real meal of the day. We'll make it a good one.

The School Lunch Dilemma

A movement is growing slowly but steadily across our communities: the demand for healthy school meals. Faced with greasy fries masquerading as vegetables and nachos drenched in neon cheese, many parents have turned their back on school nutrition. But some families depend on school food to help feed their children, and EVERY child deserves a nourishing meal at school.

Schoolkids don't need to be eating this...Schoolkids don't need to be eating this...

That's why all of us at the Food Family Farming Foundation (F3) are fighting for food that nourishes kids' bodies and minds. To grow and to learn, children need fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins that support - not sabotage - robust childhoods and sustainable food systems.

They need to be eating this!
They need to be eating this!

These days, even the USDA agrees. This year, they instituted new guidelines for school meals that limit things like fat and salt and set a minimum for fresh vegetables. But most schools know what they should be feeding children. The obstacle is how. For schools that have spent decades serving lunch out of industrial-sized cans and microwaves, scratch-cooking fresh food for hundreds each day is a daunting and, at times, seemingly impossible task.

The Recipe Project

That's why F3 created The Lunch Box -- Healthy Tools for All Schools back in 2009. The Lunch Box provides schools, parents and advocates with the tools and resources they need to change their school nutrition programs.

Our most popular tool on The Lunch Box is our recipe database. Lunch ladies (and gents!) across the country have used it to find easy-to-prepare recipes that kids love. They can scale the recipe to any size group, find out how much food they need to order, and what size pans to use.

The new USDA guidelines, however, have schools scrambling to create healthy and delicious meals that fulfill the standards. Too often schools aren't succeeding, and the kids aren't eating the food. It shouldn't be that hard, and it's not going to be.

To solve this crisis, F3 is revamping our recipe database. We're adding 100 new recipes that meet the guidelines and taste great!

The obesity crisis in this country leaves no doubt that our children need to eat healthier now. But unless cafeterias have access to healthy, delicious recipes that they can create in their own kitchens, they're going to go back to serving kids frozen pizza and wilted lettuce.

Bad school lunch contributes to the obesity crisis.
Unhealthy school lunch contributes to the obesity crisis.

Help us get our nation's school cafeterias on the right track. Help us to banish ready-to-heat salty, fatty, and preservative-laden food products from lunch trays. Help us to create healthy eating habits for life. Help us to build our Recipes for Healthy Kids.

What your Donation Funds

This is a big project. It takes a lot of work to find recipes that meet the guidelines, to create a nutritional analysis, to make them scalable to any size group of either the little (elementary) or big (high school) eaters, and to make sure kids love the food. 

Your donation will fund staff who will collect and modify kid-tested school lunch and breakfast recipes so that they are easily accessible and scalable online. And your donation is tax deductible! Not only will you be helping schools succeed in serving healthy lunch, your donation will pay you back at tax time.

Who We Are

I am the Renegade Lunch Lady Chef Ann Cooper. I founded F3 in 2009 with my colleague Chef Beth Collins.

Together, we have 25 years of school food experience between us and we have reformed school food programs in Berkeley, CA, Boulder, CO, and Traverse City, MI. We won't stop until every school in the nation is serving healthy food, and healthy school lunch is no longer considered "renegade."  Join us and our team in the school food fight.

Team on This Campaign: