Homework: Your school district’s menu(s)

You have homework. I want to know what your school district is serving to students. Please post a link to your school district’s menu(s) in the comments as well as a brief review and commentary: good, bad, or ugly. Menu is plural because there might be differences within a school district (for example, the menus could be different in elementary school versus high school)

If you can’t find the menu(s), what can you find out about your school district’s nutritional guidelines on their website? Do they have a Local Wellness Policy (as mandated by the Child Nutrition Act)? Are they adhering to their own policy?

Readers email me links and menus as attachments all the time. In fact, a reader suggested this post. Let’s compare and contrast!

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242 thoughts on “Homework: Your school district’s menu(s)

  1. Our school lunch (for all schools in the district): http://www.newark.k12.ny.us/73910918144424113/site/default.asp?739Nav=|&NodeID=426

    bad: this menu shows all the basic meals they prepare – so there is not any variety at all.. no matter if its the start of the year, middle of winter, or the hot/humid spring/summer at the end of the year weather. The food always seems "heavy" and warm, which might be good for the long cold winters here in NY… not so much in may/june when your sweating and swear your dying form how hot and humid the school buildings get.

    good: they are really good about making sure there is fresh fruit, and the vegetable isnt ALWAYS the french dry, they do have salads that are edible.

  2. Our school district is a K-8 and it appears that each school can set their own menu.
    They do have a nutritional breakdown of lunch and breakfast items in excel that you can dowload from this page.

    Here is the menu for May

    We are on a "balanced calendar" meaning that we have a 2 week fall and spring break and a shorter summer. At the other school in our district, this would be the last week of school.

  3. Here is ours, they open as a pdf. They only show the elementary and I think that is because the high schools have mainly a buffet of junk instead of prepared lunches.


    My oldest rarely eats lunch at her middle school. I try to get her to take at least a granola bar (she loves the nature valley ones) to eat if she doesn't like what is offered.

    My youngest (3rd grade) keeps track of the things she knows she doesn't like and we pack a truly healthy lunch on those days. If there is something new she tries it. The pizza and chicken nuggets are her least favorite. The pizza is greasy and soggy, it is a cheap brand of frozen pizza. She also says the chicken nuggets are soggy and never eats them. The salad option is not a true option. It is a bowl of lettuce salad mix and some dressing. Her favorite item is the cheeseburger which is just cheese and the burger so she tends to take her own toppings to add to it like lettuce, tomato, pickle, sometimes even jalapenos lol.

  4. I'm going to answer your question in two parts. I do not have a child in the local school system (Albemarle County, in Virginia) and had a hard time finding their menus. They have to be downloaded as PDFs, but if you want to take the time, they're located at http://schoolcenter.k12albemarle.org/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectiondetailid=11156&

    I asked one parent whose child was enrolled at a local elementary school for two years before they pulled her out to attend private school, and this is what he said:

    "Compared to what i used to eat in school, public school food is much better than it used to be, better nutrition consideration, better options…but it can also be improved, but knowing the budget constraints public schools operate under, I feel that do a very good job managing the nutrition requirements for children based on available money. … When (daughter) was in public school, I was happy with their menu. I had no issues with it. It is what it is for public schools. of course I wish it was better, but that is not where the budget goes"

    I then asked him about the food at his daughter's private school, and he said that it makes the public school meals look like food stamps. The private school food is professionally catered, all organic and very nutritious. But I was SHOCKED when he told me that the meals range from 6 to 12 bucks! Even for a private school, that seems pricey.

    So part 2, I grew up in Virginia Beach and attended public school there K-12, graduating HS in 2001. I see from looking at the menu that the elementary school entrees haven't changed much, though they do offer vegetarian options and they don't seem to offer french fries nearly as often (we had them probably 3-4 times a week): http://www.vbschools.com/food_services/menus/05elem.pdf

    In high school, I had a LOT of options, some of which were quite healthy or could be made healthy: entree salads, sandwiches (they added a Subway-style sandwich line my senior year), fresh fruit, cooked vegetables. But pretty much got a burger, chicken patty or pizza with fries, though the sandwich line did become pretty popular. I knew many people who ate a slice of pizza and fries every day for lunch. They also sold canned "fruit" drinks with no actual fruit and lots of HFCS that were popular. No soda in the cafeteria, but it was sold in vending machines after school hours.

    It looks like the options haven't changed much: http://www.vbschools.com/food_services/menus/05secondary.pdf

    I would be curious to know if more students chose the healthier options now than they did 10 years ago. A couple of years ago, there was a big uproar when they announced they'd be upping the price of fries by something like 10 cents, a sort of a "fat tax." I thought it was a great idea, but I'm not sure what became of it.

  5. ( http://www.google.com/calendar/hosted/oacsd.com/embed?src=oacsd.com_rceu7c6f5947etnsd6ogpiu32g%40group.calendar.google.com&ctz=America/New_York )

    I do *love* the "cook's choice" for 3 weeks straight. I understand its the last 3 weeks of the school year. But…it makes me wonder what freezer burned, expired food they are feeding to the kids.
    To see the food of the day you have to rollover the "lunch" or "breakfast" words. its a lot of the same: pizza, chicken patties, popcorn chicken. I don't even want to look at the breakfast foods. When I was there 7 years ago it was a lot of "Breakfast pizza" which was sausage and eggs on bread with some other things. Kinda like an omelette served on soggy bread. it was disgusting. From what I'm seeing the menu hasn't changed since I attended the school. Doesn't surprise me, though.
    Onaway is a small town in Northern Michigan. Its Rurual-Ville America. I had 54 kids in my senior class, we started with about 100 freshmen year. That a 50% drop out rate. The median income is somewhere in the 30K a year slot. There isn't alot of money in this district, but there are a lot of kids (That drop out rate is partially due to teenage pregnancy…)There were 3 elementary schools in the district, but 2 of those have been shut down because of funding issues. k-12 is in ONE building. k-12 shares the cafeteria and teh gymnasium…and the library. They did share the band and art rooms until they decided to phase those programs out this year.
    The lunch program is just one of the many casualties of a poorly funded school system. My belief is "If we can't spend money on the education and well-being of our children, than we reap what we sow." Why shouldn't we spend our money on our kids? We can't we better their lives, enrich them in ways ours never were? Give me a good, valid argument and I may desist in mine.

  6. Here is the link for our school district menus, you have to scroll down the page. http://ccsd.net/foodservice/1-Menus.html

    They also have a nutrition info page:http://ccsd.net/foodservice/FSFiles/Documents/Nutrient%20Counts%2051010.pdf

    Some of our elementary schools have "dish up kitchens" where they heat the food at the school and all of the others where the food it delivered and re-heated.

    My son is in middle school and according to his school lunch account, he has eaten a cookie and a bottle of water almost every single day for lunch for the entire school year. Basically, he hates the food and won't take a lunch (it's not "cool").

  7. Here's the menu for K-8 schools. I used to attend a K-8 school in that district so I thought it would be appropriate. And please note, this is from a city that's poor and has mostly "ghetto" kids. This is NOT some rich, "middle-class" district.


    And what infuriates me is that people here are whining about fruit cups, when there are so much more important things to be worrying about! Like EDUCATION!!! This district is experiencing lots of budget cuts and teacher layoffs. I think you should research more on schools in the city, not in some small ol' school out in the Mid-west.
    I appreciate what you are doing, Mrs. Q. But I still think this is a bunch of BS.

  8. Breakfast


    This is what my stepson gets to choose from everyday. Our elementary schools tried a new idea earlier this year called "go, slow, whoa!" and color-coded the items on the lunch menus- green for things that you can eat anytime, yellow for things to only eat sometimes, and red for things that should be a once in a while treat.
    But really I don't think alot of kids paid much attention. I tried to sit down with my stepson and my nephews and talk to all of them about their lunch choices and more often then not they would pick the red"whoa" items that were served at least once a week.

    And for anyone who doesn't know and is curious- Pancake on a stick is a sausage link, dipped in blueberry pancake batter and fried like a corndog. It's served with syrup for dipping.
    It is complete junk on a stick and the kids love them.

    Most days I cannot beleive this is what is fed to our children.

  9. Hello. This is a menu for the school my daughter is going to attend in the fall. They have an on-site kitchen, where they freshly prepare all the meals for the children. I was actually pretty impressed when I went to look over the cafeteria during our orientation. There is a fresh fruit and vegetable bar every day!!

  10. http://www.willowsunified.org/Departments/Food-Services/index.html

    This is the website for our school district in Northern California. There are breakfast menus that are consistent across the district for all schools. The lunch menu for the elementary kids doesn't include the "mini combo" choice which I think try to imitate fast food. There are many items on the elementary lunch menu that are really good. They aren't pre-packaged in the way that Mrs. Q's are although I have been at schools that have lunches like that. We do serve fresh fruit and vegies very often. The salad which is offered to kids is really nice – fresh GREEN lettuce, sliced cukes, tomatoes. It's very tastey. However a lot of our kids ignore it because it isn't swimming in ranch dressing. If we serve prepacked raw carrots or fresh broccoli the kids always ask us for ranch. They will eat them when we serve Ranch with it, if not they don't touch the broccoli.

  11. STRYOFOAM TRAYS! ICK! We have used them for a few years now and it drives me crazy! I was told we don't have the budget to pay for someone to wash the old trays so we switched to the stryofaom ones.

  12. Here's the Round Rock ISD menu. http://www.roundrockisd.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=22939 We're in Austin, Texas.

    The thing that seems the easiest to fix and which is not really listed as part of the menu is the "extras." We have giant bottles of strawberry and chocolate mik that clock in at over SIXTY grams of sugar each. I have seen almost 15 kids in a kinder class drinking these. Also we have ice cream, chips, and popsicle-type things daily.

    As far as the lunches, there is usually one choice out of the three that is good. Definitely much better than yours! However, lots of times the vegetarian option is things like "fruit-blend yogurt" which has crazy amounts of sugar. The breakfasts are the worst if you ask me. Cinnamon stick, french toast, syrup? Yikes! Don't even get me started on the sausage wrapped in a pancake served with syrup for LUNCH.

    There are a few of us (teachers and parents) inspired by your blog and by Mr. Oliver who are banding together to see if we can't institute some change here. Starting with the extras!

    Keep up the great (and IMPORTANT) work!!

  13. So proud of Lafayette, Louisiana! Have a look at October 14th’s fare – “burger trimmings” YUM! /sarcasm


    I could get on a rant about how they serve the kids the most disgusting versions of their so-called “food”, then have the nerve to charge the parents a transaction fee for paying the child’s lunch account online, but we’d be here all day.

  14. I came across your GMA interview on Yahoo News. I watched it and then came to your site. Very interesting. I make my kids’ lunch, but I do let them buy one day a week.

    Here is our elementary and middle schools lunch calendar…

    Oriental Chicken Salad
    Baked Ziti
    Frito Pie
    Fish Nuggets
    And so on. They have 2 choices a day. We do tend to not buy on Thursdays (Mexican Food Day). The food just never smells right.

    Here is our high school menu…

    Similar to above, but a little different with WG (Whole Grain) option.

    They also serve breakfast at all of our schools.

    And then a link to our ISD’s Nutrition Department.

  15. This is the menu for breakfast and lunch in Caledonia School District, Michigan. Just click the links under the school names. I have never seen the actual lunches yet, just from what I read from these flyers. I certainly hope that it is not as bad as the ones you found, Mrs. Q.

    Thank you for creating this blog and letting us know as parents what’s going on behind those closed door at school. Hopefully the school system can serve better foods that does not contain so much preservatives, artificial food coloring and taste, highly processed food, high fat, high carbs, high sodium, and meat that comes from animals treated with hormones and antibiotics.

    Keep on the good work, I wish you success in transforming this country’s school lunch system for the betterment of our children’s nutrition.

    PS: No wonder so many kids are obese nowadays, they don’t eat food that are natural, fresh, and healthy for them. Most of the food sold at stores are highly processed foods with all the above violations.

  16. This is my son’s lunch menu at the elementary school in NJ. I do pack most of his lunches.


    This is my daughter’s menu in the middle school.


    Let me know what you think. I’m not a big fan, but I also seem to be one of the few that still actually does my own cooking.

  17. The following is my son’s elementary school lunch menu for a two week period. The amount of sodium has generally been at or above an average of 100% dv. What is really sad is when a parent complains we are advised that our children do not have to eat it [school provided meals]. The problem is that the children that need these meals the most are generally approved for Free/Reduced lunch–if we could afford to pack their lunches we would but we cannot! I, for one, will not spend $2.50 on mystery meat that fast food chains would not even use!


  18. Lunch cost is $ 1.65 (includes entree and three sides) in our Elementary school. We have an Alternate and PBJ sandwitch each day and a different salad each day as well. They offer Milk at 1% or skim, Choc milk fat free, and 100% fruit juice (4 oz). Fruit is fresh or chilled, vegetables hot or fresh.
    I have a problem when a student is receiving reduced school lunch and they go over by three meals they are given PB&J sandwitches weather they eat it or not.

  19. Below is our local District (Lancaster ISD Lancaster, TX) Menu and a link to the Texas Public Schools Nutrition Policy

    The school lunches are MUCH better than 2 years ago. More whole grain is offered. French Frys must be baked not fried. Elementary students are allowed one serving.

    Low fat milk is now offered and I think flavor milk has ended.

    Being a parent, PTA President and Girl Scout Dad, I am very concerned about the lunch offering.

    Lancaster ISD Lancaster, TX

    Texas Public Schools Nutrition Policy

  20. http://www.smuhsd.org/file/1218758587773/1257605326962/5297581810941903842.pdf

    This was my high school district. In both middle school and high school, we had junk food (pizza, burritos, nachos etc) offered to us, but I noticed that the quality of the junk food in middle school was better. Dominos and Taco Bell delivered mini pizzas and burritos to our school. In high school, the food was considerably worse. I graduated middle school over ten years ago, so I’m not sure if they have the same lunch offerings. In high school, we had a cafeteria, and also food carts. The standard hot lunches were sold in the cafeteria, and the lunch carts sold most of the junk food. One of the most popular snacks to get during morning break was hot cheetos and cream cheese (I never partook in this, since I do not like hot cheetos). But I remember getting a bagel sandwich (A full sized plain bagel, with ham or a sausage, cheese and egg) for snack, and a pizza, or a burrito, or anything else that isn’t good for you at lunch. Now that I am more conscious of what I eat, I shudder at my former eating habits. I’m also surprised that our district allowed such junk to be sold to the students. We also had vending machines on the high school campus (not sure if those are still there). Maybe its my mindset now, but I always pack my lunch and bring it to my college campus with me when I’m spending all day there, versus buying something at the coffee carts or at one of the various cafes. I like to know exactly what I’m eating, and I don’t feel that’s possible when I buy something at school.

  21. http://udfs.wikispaces.com/file/view/October+Menu.pdf

    I am a student teacher in the Upper Dublin School District (Philly suburb, PA) and apparently the elementary schools made a HUGE change to their menus since last year. The food I see being served to the students looks and smells delicious! They still have things like cheeseburgers and french toast sticks, but they are intermingled with whole wheat pasta (their tomato sauce is made on the premises and hides a bunch of nutritious veggies), turkey wraps, and baked chicken fingers. They also feature fresh fruits and vegetables with low-fat dips. I’ve purchased salads from the cafeteria and they are delicious!

  22. http://www.uscsd.info/lunch_menu.cfm

    Our schools’ menus are the same each month. Unfortunately, I don’t agree that some of the items are on the menu (fries, processed chicken, spicy taco mean, nachos). These items are high in calories and not very healthy for the kids. I don’t see a lot of “real cooked” items – mostly canned and frozen heat and serve.

  23. I have one student in middle school and two in elementary. Our middle school lunch menu is much worse (according to me at least) than what is offered at the elementary schools. You can see that the limited fare is even more limited by the fact that the menu rotates every two weeks. Chocolate milk is the drink of choice by most of the kids in the district. Checking the milk cooler, the number of chocolate milk cases beat the white milk 4:1.

    I am a vegetarian, while the rest of my family considers themselves flexitarians. They eat meat for dinner only once or twice a week. The rest of the week we are meatless or use fake meat. We have control over what the kids eat at home and we pack lunch for each of the kids at least twice a week. What they choose to eat for lunch on those other days makes me shiver with fear.

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