by Marion Nestle
Sep 9 2011

Back to school lunch: bibliography

If you want to work on improving the meals at your kids’ schools, much help is available.  Just in, for example:

From the Center for Ecoliteracy: Rethinking School Lunch: Cooking with California Food in K-12 Schools: a Cookbook and Professional Development Guide. You don’t have to be in California to take advantage of this resource.  It’s full of recipes and good ideas, as are other resources from the Center.

From Amy Kalafa: Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s Health, Tarcher/Penguin 2011. Kalafa is the writer and producer of the film about school food—Two Angry Moms.  This is her how-to guide to getting involved in and doing something useful about your kids’ school food programs.

From Sarah A. Robert and Marcus B. Weaver-Hightower: School Food Politics: The Complex Ecology of Hunger and Feeding in Schools Around the World.  Peter Lang, 2011.  This is a collection of essays (one of them mine) from writers and thinkers about school feeding programs, domestic and international.  It ends with a long list of groups working on school food issues.

And on my bookshelf from the last couple of years:

Janet Poppendieck’s Free for All: Fixing School Food in AmericaUniversity of California Press, 2010.  My blurb says “Extraordinarily well thought out, beautifully written, sympathetic, and compelling.  Anyone who reads this book will find the present school lunch situation beyond unacceptable.  Free for All is a call for action on behalf of America’s school kids, one that we all need to join.”  Poppendieck is a strong advocate for universal school meals. Me too.

Institute of Medicine.  School Meals: Building Blocks for Health Children.  National Academies Press, 2010. This influential committee report says what needs to be done to establish food-based (rather than nutrient-based) standards for school meals.

Kevin Morgan and Roberta Sonnino.  The School Food Revolution: Public Food and the Challenge of Sustainable DevelopmentEarthscan (UK), 2008.  The UK has its own problems with school meals and so do other countries.  This book presents international case studies focused on sustainability and social justice.

Susan Levine.  School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America’s Favorite Welfare Program.  Princeton, 2008.  If you want to understand the history of how school lunches came to be in America, here’s the source.

Ann Cooper and Lisa M. Holmes.  Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our ChildrenCollins, 2006.  Cooper was one of the first chefs to get into schools and get fixing.  This is a how-to from one who did it.

Robert W. Surles.  Chef Bobo’s Good Food CookbookMeridith 2004.  I have a soft spot for this one because I’ve been keeping an eye on Chef Bobo’s program at the Calhoun School in Manhattan for years now.   He revolutionized school meals at one school and this book explains what he had to do to do that.  He’s still there and still cooking!

You would like to do something about school meals but don’t know how?  No excuses!





  • Charlie D.
  • September 9, 2011
  • 1:24 pm

[...] parents who are horrified at what the school serves your kids for lunch, Marion Nestle serves up an array of resources to help you take [...]

  • Allison Pichert
  • September 9, 2011
  • 11:34 pm

Thanks for this post and all of our great work.

people interested in this post should also check out:

[...] Back to school lunch: bibliography, Food Politics — Marion Nestle provides a nice round up of books and articles for parents who want to work on improving the meals at their kids’ schools. [...]

Those are all great books! But for those who want to get started fixing school food without having to purchase a book, please visit It’s free.

  • Jessica
  • September 11, 2011
  • 3:43 pm

Thank you for once again providing a wealth of information. I was able to download the first book for free from the link you provided and I plan to look over the recipes and incorporate them into our family’s new healthier food intake(I hate the word diet right now lol). This information isn’t just good for people concerned about school lunches, anyone can use it to improve their own diet and I appreciate every resource I can find to make our family healthier. You are a fantastic source of well reasearched information given in a very easy to understand, matter of fact, manner. Thank you so much. Keep up the inspirational work :-)

[...] here to read the rest: Food Politics » Back to school lunch: bibliography This entry was posted in School` and tagged california, cookbook, cooking, from-the-center, [...]

[...] If you want to work on improving school meals, Marion Nestle has compiled a reading list at [...]

[...] are some great resources for forward actions, as a starting point. Marion Nestle’s School Lunch Bibliography Renegade Lunch Lady Two Angry Moms Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Slow Food USA Time for [...]

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