Student Wellness

5-Minute Film Festival: Building a Better School Lunch

National School Lunch Week is October 14-18. To help schools celebrate, Edutopia’s VideoAmy has collected videos and resources to encourage students and teachers rethink healthy eating.

October 11, 2013

If the thought of school lunch brings to mind soggy tater tots and hamburgers in cellophane bags, you're not alone. Many schools only offer highly processed foods, high in salt and fat -- whether for budgetary reasons, convenience, or simply habit. But the National School Lunch Program has been taking small steps towards insuring better food for the kids who need it most, and the upcoming School Lunch Week celebrates and raises awareness about having good food in our schools. So I've joined in and gathered a variety of videos about nutrition -- and you won't find any dry films about the food pyramid here, just great resources to help inspire you and your students to eat healthier during School Lunch Week and every week.

Healthier Food for School Lunch Week!

Watch the first video below, or watch the whole playlist on YouTube.

  1. Changing School Food (03:26)

    This short video by "Renegade Lunch Lady" Ann Cooper's organization, Food Family Farming Foundation, challenges us to re-think the way kids eat. Check out her website The Lunch Box for useful resources for educators.

  2. The 26-Ingredient School Lunch Burger (03:28)

    This earnest and fun video from NPR's Tiny Desk Kitchen investigates the reasons why some school lunch burgers have so many impossible-to-pronounce ingredients. Fascinating stuff!

  3. Clint Smith - "Place Matters" (03:42)

    I was absolutely floored by this powerful spoken word poem by high school English teacher Clint Smith -- he describes how his students' lives are impacted by having to navigate the food desert of urban Washington D.C.

  4. The "Big Rig" Mobile Teaching Kitchen (02:37)

    British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has found fame by shaking up the food industry, but did you know he also has a nonprofit foundation with a special focus on revolutionizing school food?

  5. Mrs Q's School Lunch Photos from Fed Up With Lunch (01:05)

    Teacher Sarah Wu made headlines in 2011 when she committed to eating school lunch every day and shared her experiences on her blog Fed Up With Lunch. Wu continues to be an activist for healthier school lunches.

  6. wRap (02:16)

    Real Food For Kids helped a high school in Virginia open a new serving area that featured a salad bar, deli sandwich bar, and soups. The students celebrate their new "Statesman Station" café with this charming rap.

  7. Join the Edible Schoolyard Project (01:21)

    Not only is Edible Schoolyard Project an amazing organization that brings food education into urban schools, it's also a thriving online community for people to share garden-based learning resources.

  8. What 2000 Calories Looks Like (01:52)

    While not specific to school lunches, I found this video (from Buzzfeed, of all places!) a fascinating teaching tool to show kids how various foods measure up to the daily allowance of calories.

  9. Martin County Schools: Making Healthy Food Fun (02:40)

    Whole Foods clearly has a vested interest in promoting healthy food, but I liked the heart in this video profile they produced about schools in Appalachia. Find more videos about kids and food on their channel.

  10. Michael Pollan: School Lunch (02:11)

    Food journalist and activist Michael Pollan takes school lunches to task in this interview from the Nourish educational initiative.

  11. FoodFight Movie (02:01)

    FoodFight is a teacher-founded New York-based org trying to change the way schools think about food, and this short shows their teacher training. Watch a video on their classroom programs.

  12. School Meals Get Healthier: Students and Experts React | Pew (02:23)

    In February 2013, the USDA proposed new nutrition standards for snacks, foods, and beverages sold in schools -- the first updates in more than 30 years. This video from the Kids' Safe & Healthful Foods Project takes a look.

More Resources on School Lunches and Nutrition

We still have a long way to go before every kid has access to healthy and appealing lunches -- we're not out of the mystery meat woods yet. But don't lose heart; there are many wonderful resources to help you get started. Share your ideas on how to encourage healthy lunches at school in the comments below!

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