#happylife: Spice up your child’s school lunches!

#happylife: Spice up your child’s school lunches!
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Read more about new school food standards at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's website.

The countdown to the first day of school is on! Whether your children buy or bring lunch, there are plenty of options to satisfy their taste buds for the busy school year ahead.

Spokane Public Schools’ Nutritional Services Supervisor Garrett Berdan is ready, for the whole year actually. Part of his job is to prepare the menus for school breakfasts and lunches a year ahead of time. Yes, that means he is already hard at work for the 2020-2021 school year!

Berdan is a former chef who thrives on trying to find ways to appeal to the masses and still make exceptional dishes with the best ingredients available. He said his current challenge is trying to find a way to incorporate hummus in to an entree for vegans and vegetarians in the district.

This year, don’t be surprised if your child comes home saying they tried a unique dish like chickpea masala . It’s a part of a fun idea he is working on incorporating into the school lunch system in the months to come.

” Something I want to do this year as sort of the chef for the school district is pop-up test kitchens at certain schools throughout the year as a way to try out new dishes, ” Berdan explained.

You might think chickpea masala wouldn’t sound appetizing to a child, but Berdan said, thanks to the popularity of cooking shows and a variety of different cuisines available in our area, kids are eager to give new things a try!

Whether it’s a new Indian dish or pizza or muffins, Berdan said their goal with the 17,000 breakfasts and lunches they serve every day is to use local, fresh and healthy ingredients like fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

If you’d like more information on Spokane school lunches, menus, meal plans or whether or not your child qualifies for a free or reduced meal, click here.

Have a child who doesn’t like to buy lunch? Does your child buy lunch, but need snacks to keep them energized through the day? Here are some ideas for healthy, mess-free and easy-to-make snacks, lunches and breakfasts!

1. Grapes or apples
2. Cheese cubes or string cheese
3. Whole grain crackers
4. Grape tomatoes, peppers, baby carrots
5. Cuts (if they are not in a nut-free classroom)
6. Chicken, turkey or ham cubes
7. Animal crackers

Have some fun with them, prepping snacks and meals by taking these foods and putting them on kabobs! You can make sweet ones by adding waffle pieces in between apple slices and grapes or a protein one with layers of cubed chicken and turkey!

Reduce the amount of plastic you use and give the kids fewer things to stick in their backpacks by putting snacks and lunch/breakfast in a bento box! A bento box is a divided up lunch box with room for a sandwich (or kabobs) and a couple of snacks. Most are reusable and can go right in the dishwasher when they get home.