School Lunch Revolution & a Recipe for a Healthy Hero (Podcast #102)

Over the past few months, we’ve been absolutely wowed by the growing momentum behind school lunch reform. Both of us have spent time in the “trenches” working to improve the school lunch options in our children’s schools, so we understand the time and commitment it takes to bring positive change to the system. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, we dish about several of those efforts and chat about the role we see for ourselves in the movement.

If you watched the last episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC, you may recall his disappointment when some of the kids brought brown-bag lunches filled with candy, chips, and soft drinks. We were disappointed too, so from now on, we will be making a greater effort on our website and blog to provide our readers and listeners with tips and recipes for adding ease, nutrition, and fun flavors to kids’ lunches. Under the Mealtime Tips section of our main site, we have a fact sheet on Brown Bag Boredom Busters, and we have some helpful articles you may want to check out too: Think Outside the Lunchbox and Smart Snacking. Read on for a lunch box Healthy Hero recipe and links to some of our favorite school lunch reform websites.

Healthy Hero

Makes 4 Servings

  • 1 cup packed baby spinach or romaine lettuce
  • 1 tablespoon lite or regular Italian salad dressing
  • 4 teaspoons honey mustard
  • 4 whole wheat submarine rolls, halved
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced roast beef
  • 4 sandwich-cut dill pickles
  • 1 medium tomato, thinly sliced, optional
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced reduced-fat cheese (mozzarella, American, Swiss, or provolone)
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced low-sodium deli turkey

1. Combine the spinach and salad dressing in a bowl and mix well.

2. Spread 1 teaspoon of the mustard on one side of each roll. Layer evenly with the roast beef, spinach, pickle, tomato as desired, cheese, and turkey. Place the remaining roll halves firmly on top. Slice in half or pack whole.

Nutrition Information per Serving:  350 calories, 11g fat (4.5g saturated), 870mg sodium, 39g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 28g protein, 15% vitamin A, 25% calcium, 15% iron

Print Recipe

We could spend all day going from website to website reading about the people and organizations working to improve what our kids eat in school. Here is just a brief overview of some of our favorites:

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution: Jamie Oliver offers recipes, tips for reforming the school lunch program, a petition to save cooking skills and improve school food, and lots more!
Two Angry Moms:  Two moms make a movie about their quest to improve their school lunch program and provide tools to help you bring change to your district.
Let’s Move: More than 31 million children participate in the national school lunch program, and Michelle Obama, through her Let’s Move initiative, wants to make it a whole lot healthier.
Chef Ann Cooper: As the self-described Renegade Lunch Lady, Chef Ann’s life work is to transform how we feed our children in school each day, from highly processed to highly nourishing food — one school lunch at a time.
Farm to School Initiative: The USDA encourages schools to buy produce from local farmers.
Fed Up with Lunch: Blogging anonymously under the pseudonym, Mrs. Q, this third-grade teacher from the Midwest is eating school lunch just like the kids every day in 2010. Her photos and insights are a real eye opener!
Moms Inc.: A group of concerned moms provides tips and tools for helping fellow parents approach school administrators and food service directors with the goal of improving the nutrition in school lunches.

What’s happening in your community? Do tell!

8 responses to “School Lunch Revolution & a Recipe for a Healthy Hero (Podcast #102)”

  1. momgateway says:

    so glad this school lunch revolution movement is picking up…our kids need it so bad.

  2. Maria says:

    Great sandwich! I always load my sandwiches with veggies!

  3. Kim in Minnesota says:

    As a mom and also a Dairy Council staffer (full disclosure), I am excited about Fuel Up to Play 60, a program that brings the star power of the NFL together with the nutrition expertise of the National Dairy Council… promoting all food groups to encourage, healthier school environments and the need for physical activity. I encourage you to check out for more details about how individual kids, moms, or schools can get involved.

  4. Kristin says:

    This sandwich is great, always a hit in our house, multiple generations! I too am thrilled that more and more attention is being paid to what our children are eating. Just sent an angry mom letter to our district superintendent to say just how man I was about what my second grader and preschooler were being offered. Just today, cheese stuffed breadsticks with marinara were an entree’!

    Thanks MMM…..

  5. Such great references you share here. Love your healthy sandwich suggestion.

  6. mandy says:

    Great references, we really need to keep getting the word out! Happy Mothers Day to you two lovely ladies!! I’m definitely going to get involved, especially because I’ll have two kids in school next year.

  7. Jessica Holoubek says:

    I’m a mom to a 2 year old, so I am just gearing up on battling the brown bag boredom and haven’t a clue the status of my public school system lunches (my guess, not good!) Have you considerd a podcast about lunches for kids under elementary school age? My son goes to nursery school and I pack his lunch every day–has to be finger foods he can pick up with his chubby little hands, but I end up going back to the same ol’ same ol’. Would love some inspiration from you gals!

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