Host a potluck with a purpose

Published on August 21 2009 - 3:00 PM
Broccoli-Bacon Salad
My husband laughed when I told him this, but when I “grow up” I want to be a school-lunch lady. Not the kind of school-lunch lady I remember from my school days: hairnet askew, dishing up “turkey gravy” over a pile of (surely instant) mashed potatoes. (Ew, did I really eat that?) I want to be the kind of lunch lady who cooks food from scratch and brings the kids to the school garden to pick fruits and vegetables they’ll actually eat that day.

(Get healthy eating guidelines for kids, plus recipes and more here.)

Though there are some school-lunch programs like the one I dream about, they’re few and far between. The National School Lunch Program feeds 30 million kids each day and is seriously underfunded. And the recent recession has forced many school districts to cut their budgets, making it even harder for school-lunch programs to make ends meet. Not a good thing when studies have shown that if you equip your children with healthy food to eat at school, like lunch recipes kids will love, they will be better prepared to study and learn!

If you care about how our nation’s children are being fed at school, join Slow Food USA’s Time for Lunch campaign. Slow Food is lobbying Congress to allocate an additional $1 per day per child for healthier lunch items, to limit the junk food sold in schools and to teach children about food through farm-to-school programs and school gardens. Part of their campaign asks supporters to host Labor Day Eat-Ins: community potlucks to spread the word.

Here are 3 ways you can take action!

1. Host an Eat-In! Need recipe ideas for your friends and neighbors? Our potluck recipe collection has great recipes for everything from Broccoli-Bacon Salad (pictured above) to Raspberry Bars.

2. Pack a nutritious lunch for your child to bring to school. Our kid-friendly lunch collection has loads of quick, easy, portable ideas, such as Strawberry-Cream Cheese Sandwich.

3. Plant a container garden with your kids. Salad greens are easy to grow, and kids will be able to see results right away.

A graduate of New England Culinary Institute and University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism, Carolyn pairs her long-standing love for food with writing as EatingWell's senior food editor. Carolyn’s culinary interest is rooted in her childhood; she grew up making thousands of Christmas cookies every year with her mom and picking leaves off bunches of parsley to make tabbouleh with her dad. Away from the kitchen, Carolyn enjoys seeking out rare craft beers and exploring the outdoors with her husband, 2-year-old daughter and dog.