School Lunch

School Lunch

As kids try to focus on homework, many adults are thinking hard about school lunches. Read on for lots of kid-centric food news, plus a few enticements for the grown-ups…


See how Charlotte Peale (a frequent contributor to this newsletter) makes her own creative school lunches in her back-issue article, Obento!

See how Charlotte Peale (a frequent contributor to this newsletter) makes her own creative school lunches: Obento!


Beefing Up the Case for Healthy School Meals


As school swings back into session, busy parents aren’t the only people thinking about school lunch. The Center for Ecoliteracy announces a new video: Making the Case for Healthy, Freshly Prepared School Meals. This two-minute animated presentation is ideal for people who want to improve student health, academic achievement, school finances, and the environment. It’s part of a set of resources to help make the case that healthy, freshly made school meals are not only important, but possible. Other materials from the Center a research PDF summarizing growing evidence about why improved school meals matter and a customizable PowerPoint presentation to help make the case to school leaders. Info: here


Bring Your Class to the Garden!


Schedule your Foods of the Americas tour and visit the marketplace of native crops from North, South, and Central America between October 2 and 17. Discover the cornucopia of food crops, from chocolate to quinoa, that originated in the Americas thousands of years ago. Class groups tour the exhibition marketplace and the Crops of the World garden, with groups scheduled at 9:30am and 11:15am. Tours fill up fast, so reserve your spot now. The deadline to book a tour is September 15. Many other school tours and programs are also available, and the garden offers a free in-class program plus a free garden tour monthly to underserved schools. General Info: here Tours: Contact Grace Pegan Weltner at or 510.643.7265.


Celebrate the Black-Eyed Pea!


Saturday September 20, 11am–6pm
Oakland’s First Black-Eyed Pea Festival
Mosswood Park, 3612 Webster St, Oakland

All are invited to the Black-Eyed Pea Festival, a celebration of African and African-American culture. The event features traditional musicians, artists, and storytellers as well as art and craft vendors and community resource information. Take a class in meditation, yoga, or dance. A children’s crafts area includes t-shirt painting and rattle making with black-eyed peas. Enjoy a variety of foods from Oakland’s Freedom Farmers’ Market, plus dishes with a black-eyed pea theme. Free. Info: here or 510.332.5851.

Farm-to-Table Dining in Danville

Saturday September 20, 5–9pm
Seasonal Supper: A Field to Fork Dinner
Hap Magee Ranch
1025 La Gonda Way, Danville

The Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association hosts Seasonal Supper: A Field to Fork Dinner at Danville’s Hap Magee Ranch. Proceeds benefit participating farms and Fresh Approach, an organization that connects low-income families with California-grown food. Local farmers will speak about their crops, how the year has been, and how the drought has affected them. Each course, crafted by Chef Mario Hernandez, features the seasonal harvest from Tomatero FarmFrog Hollow FarmHappy Acre Farm, and other producers who sell at the Danville Farmers’ Market. Glennhawk Vineyards provides tastings and menu pairings from their local wine selection. Purchase tickets at the Danville Farmers’ Market or at

Food grown by Matt Sylvester and Helena Tuman, owners of Happy Acre Farm, will be part of the Seasonal Supper. (Photo courtesy of the Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association.)

Food grown by Matt Sylvester and Helena Tuman, owners of Happy Acre Farm, will be part of the Seasonal Supper. (Photo courtesy of the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association.)


Female Chefs Get Cooking for Girls Inc.

Saturday September 13, 5pm
Taste: A Culinary Experience Benefiting Girls Inc.
Rotunda Building
300 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland

Girls Inc. announces Taste, led by founding chef Sophina Uong (Picán and Captain & Corset), Dominica Rice-Cisneros (Cosecha), and Amy Murray (Revival Bar + Kitchen and Venus) and an extraordinary lineup of female culinary stars. Tanya Holland (Brown Sugar Kitchen and B-Side BBQ) is honorary chef and also chairs the event; proceeds support academic achievement programs and community mental health services for thousands of underserved girls and their families in Alameda County and San Francisco. Tickets start at $250 for the charity event. Info and tickets: here

Pictured above are Oakland chefs Dominica Rice-Cisneros of Cosecha (left), and Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen and B-Side BBQ. Featured in

Pictured above are Oakland chefs Dominica Rice-Cisneros of Cosecha (left), and Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen and B-Side BBQ. Featured in “Any Females in the House?” Sarah Henry’s article in our Winter 2013 issue, they are now participating in the Girls Inc. fundraising event. (Photos by Stacy Ventura)


Meet the author of The Culinary Imagination

at Mrs. Dalloway’s

Thursday September 11, 7:30pm
Sandra M. Gilbert presents
The Culinary Imagination: From Myth to Modernity 
Mrs. Dalloway’s
2904 College Ave, Berkeley

Renowned scholar Sandra M. Gilbert explores the poetics and politics of food, from the recipe novel to the celebrity chef. The prominent critic, poet, and memoirist examines our relationship with food and eating through discussions of literature, art, and popular culture. Focusing on contemporary practices, The Culinary Imagination traces the social, aesthetic, and political history of food from myth to modernity, from ancient sources to our current wave of food mania.



Book Reviews

Pack ‘Em Up! 
Reviews by Kristina Sepetys

Raise your hand: Who out there loves cooking, but preparing and packing school lunches…not so much? Maybe I’m in the minority, but the day-in, day-out effort of finding something nourishing that can be quickly prepared in the busy morning hours to entice a child’s palate can be a challenge. Leftovers are always good. But best of all is finding recipes for appealing, accessible, and healthy items that will tempt kids to explore their culinary likes and dislikes, experiment in the kitchen, and create their own meals. I’m a big believer in the old adage, “Give a kid a fish and feed her for a day. Teach her to fish and feed her for a lifetime.”


The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet: Make Lunches Your Kids Will Love with More than 200 Deliciously Nutritious Meal Ideas 
by Laura Fuentes 
(Fair Winds Press, 2014)
With seven chapters, recipes to suit every age, and sections to record likes and dislikes, Fuentes presents nearly a full school year’s worth of simple, healthful recipes for lunches and breakfasts. Recipes include entire lunch meals that are gluten-, soy-, and/or nut-free. The author, founder of the healthy school lunch site,, shares recipes like Smashed Chickpea Sandwich, Baked Raviolis, and Oatmeal Raisin Granola Bars.


Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love 
by Katie Sullivan Morford 
(Chronicle Books, 2013)
Quick and simple solutions for wholesome, balanced meals developed by a registered dietitian, mother of three, and award-winning blogger. The 65 recipes are easy, delicious, and packed with nutrients for well-rounded lunches and snacks like Deconstructed Caprese Skewers, Easy Cheesy Thermos Beans, Pesto Pita Pizza, Cinnamon Wonton Crisps, Parmesan Kale Chips, and Crispy Applewiches. Colorful, close-up photographs will appeal to children and adults.
Special Day Cooking, a Life Skills Cookbook 

by Beverly Worth Palomba
(Special Day Publishing, 2013)
This excellent book has grown out of Palomba’s long tenure developing and teaching a life-skills curriculum at San Ramon High School for people with developmental challenges making the transition into independent living. It will appeal to people with autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, ADD, and other disabilities as well as young people who simply want to learn to cook on their own. All 60 recipes, presented in large type with concise, easy-to-follow instructions, can be prepared with only a microwave, toaster, or blender and a plastic knife in one hour or less. 




Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks: Create Extraordinary Dishes from the Ordinary Ingredients in Your College Meal Plan
by Priya Krishna
(Storey, 2014)
If your college-bound California foodie child is worried about the quality of dining hall fare, tuck this book in with the lava lamp and beanbag chair. Using 100 basic foods available in most college dining halls, Krishna offers instructions for creating 75 tasty dishes like Eggs Carbonara, Asian Lettuce Wraps, Black Bean Hummus, and Peach Cobbler. The author, a recent graduate of Dartmouth College, created dishes from the à la carte dining hall offerings and documented her discoveries in a weekly column for her school newspaper. She currently writes for 
Lucky Peach.


Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious
by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
(Readers to Eaters, 2014)
A charmingly illustrated biography of Alice Waters, written for children, chronicles her “Trip to Delicious,” a search for healthy, nutritious, and sustainable food. Some tips from Ms. Waters: Grow your own food (If you grow it and cook it yourself, you’re going to want to eat it); taste and taste again—who knows what you’ll like; always eat in season; if something is truly delicious, you don’t need to eat so much to be satisfied; and cook with your friends! 






Veggie Nuggets

Photo courtesy of Laura Fuentes

Photo courtesy of Laura Fuentes

Reprinted with permission from The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet by Laura Fuentes. (Far Winds Press 2014)

1/2 large cauliflower
1 broccoli crown
3 eggs
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons taco seasoning*

Steam the cauliflower and broccoli until they are soft. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.  Preheat the oven to 375°.

Put the cauliflower and broccoli in a food processor, pulse a few times, then turn it on high until they are thoroughly combined. Add the remaining ingredients, plus some salt and pepper to taste, to the vegetables. Give the food processor a few pulses until all the ingredients are evenly combined. If the veggie paste is too sticky, add additional breadcrumbs. This will vary based on the size of the broccoli and cauliflower you used.

Using a cookie scoop or your hands, make small golf ball-size nuggets and place them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for about 15 minutes until they are golden brown.

To pack them in a school lunch:
Serve warmed veggie nuggets in a thermos or at room temperature in a lunchbox with about 1/4 cup of homemade or store-bought tomato sauce or ketchup in a small container for dipping.

* Laura Fuentes includes her own seasoning recipe (called Arriba!) in the book.