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June 15, 2019
Sound Bites: What Kids Say About Their School Lunch (And Why it Matters!)

When given the chance, students have a lot to say about their school lunch, and we can learn a lot by listening. Project Bread's Chef Sam interviewed students during their lunch period to learn more about how we can continue to make lasting changes to improve the quality of their school meals. 

Project Bread's Chefs in Schools program helped 27 schools serve healthier, delicious school lunches to 14,432 students in the 2018-2019 school year. 

Click the "Sound Bites" to hear what kids had to say to Chef Sam about their school lunch, and most importantly, why it matters!

What happens when you feel hungry in class?

Lizzie, 2nd Grade:

Sophie, 2nd Grade:

It's no surprise. Hunger has a serious impact on a child's ability to concentrate and learn. 1 in 8 children in Massachusetts don't have enough to eat at home. Having access to healthy meals at school every day levels the playing field for low-income children to reach their potential, and break free from the cycle of poverty and food-insecurity. 

How often do you eat school lunch?

Table of 3rd Graders: 

These kids here are in good company. Every day, half of all public school students in Massachusetts eat the lunch served in their cafeteria. For many kids, school meals comprise of more than half of their daily calories. That's why Project Bread is so focused on improving the quality of food served in schools in eligible school districts.

What meal would you like to have served for lunch at school? 

Jaylen, 2nd Grade:

Sam, 3rd Grade:

Alex, 4th Grade:

Food connects so strongly to family and culture that kids are excited and proud to see one of their favorite dishes from home being served for lunch at school. Representing and celebrating a schools racial and ethnic diversity through their school lunch program is one of the goals of the Chefs in Schools program. One Chefs in Schools dish that is a student favorite is Pollo Guisado, a Caribbean favorite of stewed chicken served in cafeterias all over the state.

Today for lunch you're eating Green Monster Pizza. What do you like about it?

Ben, 2nd grade

Margo, 2nd grade

Jack, 2nd grade:

A lot of people, including many politicians, say that kids won't eat healthy food. This is not true. The pizza these kids are eating for lunch is loaded with kale, zucchini, spinach, onion, even pine nuts! In 2015, our research, "Effects of Choice Architecture and Chef-Enhanced Meals on the Selection and Consumption of Healthier School Food", conducted by Project Bread and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, showed that when healthy food tastes good and is presented well, kids will eat it! Families with a limited food budget can't afford to spend money on unfamiliar recipes that may go to waste. Exposing kids to new foods at school helps them try new food and build healthy eating habits.

What difference does school lunch make in your classroom? 

Mrs. M, 2nd Grade Teacher:

Hunger can derail a student from reaching their potential. Lacking access to adequate nutrition at home can derail a child from being a successful student. Food-insecurity leads to higher absentee rates and visits to the nurse's office, lower test scores, higher likelihood to repeat a grade or not graduate. Schools are a critical access point for ensuring children are being fed, Project Bread is fully committed to improving the quality of school lunch and removing barriers preventing children from participating in school breakfast.

Teachers will tell you. Children are able to thrive in school when hunger is out of the equation. Project Bread is working every day to ensure that hungry kids have access to healthy meals at school. 

Author(s): Project Bread

Filed under: News and Events, Children and Schools, About & History, For the Media, Donor, Ways to Give