National School Lunch Week Photo of school cafeteria

National School Lunch Week: What’s on your Playlist?

It’s that time once again — the time to celebrate National School Lunch Week (NSLW)! Whether you already have big plans in store for your students or haven’t entirely prepared (you’re busy – we know!), this post will help you get excited to observe the week in style.

In this post, we will provide you with:

  • A mini-history lesson on National School Lunch Week;
  • Reasons your school should participate;
  • A handful of event ideas to get your creative juices flowing;
  • Links to incredible resources to promote NSLW 2019.

Ready to get started? Let’s begin by learning the story behind NSLW. Here’s a hint: an American President established the observance. Read on to find out which ones it was!

What is National School Lunch Week?

The observance of National School Lunch Week was created by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, a mere 16 years after legislators signed the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) into law.

Designed to promote the NSLP, NSLW ultimately affirms the importance of a healthy and balanced diet for children and the role healthy eating plays in their education and at home.

Because of the NSLP, nearly 30 million students are served meals daily — that’s 5 billion annually. The program ensures that students, regardless of household income, are served nutritious meals that include fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and dairy.

So, it’s easy to see why the government awarded the NSLP a weeklong observance.

Why should my school or district participate?

That is a great question. After all, it takes a lot of planning and coordination to make the event happen. It needs to be worth it for you and your staff to expend your most precious resource: time. The phenomenal benefits of participating in school lunch week include: 

Program Promotion

Use the week to promote all the benefits of your lunch program. Provide cool nutrition stats in a flyer to parents so they can truly see why their children should participate.

Increased Participation

A fun themed event is just the ticket for adding a little excitement to your nutrition program. Consider serving only the most popular student meals for the duration of NSLW to ramp up participation. Think about it: hamburgers, pizza, and chicken nuggets — oh my!

Media Coverage

Want to promote your program to a broader audience? Send out a press release about the events you’re holding during NSLW to local TV stations and papers, and even bloggers. If you’re lucky, your story will go viral and become national news.

Above all else, NSLW reinforces the importance of the National School Lunch Program for America’s children. And it’s not just the parents and students who are watching; reinforcing the significance of the program to teachers and administrators is just as important.

Rock the School Cafeteria a playlist for celebrating national school lunch week kid playing toy guitar with a button that says listen now

I need ideas! How can we celebrate NSLW?

 It can be tough to be creative when your biggest concern is serving nutritious meals to masses of students daily. You want ideas? You got ’em! Here are some great ideas to consider for NSLW.

Themed Lunches 

Even if you’re menu is already set, add some fun to it by giving the meals a themed name. The theme for NSLW 2019 is “What’s On Your Playlist,” so consider giving menu items music-centric names. Think Rockin’ Roast, Funky Fries, or Raptastic Wrap.

National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day 

Wednesday, Oct 16, is National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day. Invite parents to enjoy a school lunch with their child; this allows them to see how school lunches have changed since they were in school. You could even offer to take them on a tour of the kitchen!

Make a Food-Centric Playlist 

Build a clean playlist on a music streaming site, like Spotify or Apple Music. Select songs that are food-themed or are all about food. Don’t want to create a playlist on your own? We’ve already made one for you!

I need more information. Where should I look?

SchoolNutrition.org is loaded with resources to make celebrating NSLW 2019 a breeze. From preparation checklists to menu templates to marketing materials and event ideas, they have got you covered. 

Some of our favorite resources from the site include the following:

The NSLW 2019 Toolkit

This comprehensive PDF gives you background on the program and offers ideas of ways to celebrate throughout NSLW for 2019.

The National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day Checklist by Kiwi Magazine

President John F. Kennedy himself said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” Planning is your best friend when it comes to throwing a successful, school-wide event. This checklist will ensure your National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day events go off without a hitch.

All of the marketing and PR resources provided by SchoolNutrition

Lunchroom staff and nutrition directors don’t often have the time, resources, or expertise to create marketing materials or write a well-crafted press release. 

The excellent news: SchoolNutrition.org has everything from social media promotion tips to press releases to help you market NSLW for your school.

No diggity, no doubt: You will rock NSLW 2019!

National School Lunch Week is the perfect time to reinforce the importance of the NSLP while helping to increase participation in the program for your school or district-wide. 

Planning a fun menu and engaging activities for NSLW places your program in the spotlight, and everyone is watching; this is your week to show parents, teachers, and administrators just how vital the school lunch program is to your school and community. 


Free ebook 3 ways to get more kids eating in the cafeteria call to action national school lunch week