Resources for School Food

Recipes + Cookbooks

Criteria for choosing these recipes and cookbooks are:

•Recipes are tailored to meet USDA meal pattern requirements

•Recipes are designed by School Food Service professionals, for School Food Service professionals

•Recipes acknowledge and cater to diverse cultural cuisines


Center for Ecoliteracy: Cooking with California Food in K-12 Schools

Cooking with California Food introduces the concept of the dynamic 6-5-4 School Lunch Matrix, based on six dishes students know and love, five ethnic flavor profiles, and four seasons. It offers ideas for adding more fresh, local, healthy foods to school lunches; helps meal services devise an appealing variety of menus around dishes that children already prefer; honors California’s rich history and cultural heritage; and describes a tested plan for effective professional development for food services staff. (Tailored for California crops, but translatable to Oregon grown and produced foods)


Healthy Kids Collaborative: Plant-Forward Recipes for School Food Operations

What happens when The Culinary Institute of America brings school food service professionals, chefs, non-profit leaders and healthy food companies together to think about what is needed to create healthier and delicious school food? A project dedicated to creating culinary inspired, USDA compliant, plant-forward recipes for school lunch nationwide. The CIA’s Healthy Kids Collaborative with support from Whole Kids Foundation is excited to bring you the first set of plant-forward recipes.

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Serving up Tradition: A Guide for School Food in Culturally Diverse Communities

This is a guide for food service directors and staff and community advocates, particularly from culturally diverse school districts. Food, and the way that we prepare and eat it, carries significant meaning for all people. Culturally appropriate foods are the ingredients and preparations of foods that acknowledge and appreciate the experiences, traditions, and diverse preferences of a group of people. Exactly what culturally appropriate foods work best for your meal program depends on the student demographics of your district. This guide will help you identify what those foods are. 

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Project Bread: Let's Cook Healthy School Meals

Let's Cook Healthy School Meals is a first-of-its-kind tool to help school administrators and kitchen staff plan and prepare healthy meals for students that they will want to eat.

It meets the new 2012 USDA school meal requirements, and offers 100 recipes that have been kid-tested in cafeteria kitchens.


Pacific Northwest Seafood: School Nutrition Program Recipes

Many Oregon seafood species are available year-round, in fresh, frozen or shelf stable forms and are packed with nutrients. These seafood products are mild and sweet tasting, making them excellent options for school menus. In these culinary videos you’ll learn simple and quick ways to prepare Oregon seafood that kids will love.  Check out the recipe cards to make these meals in the cafeteria or at home.


Food Hero Cooking for a Crowd Recipes.

Cooking for a crowd? These recipes are a great addition to any party or event and have been written for home use as well as for larger numbers of servings. Even better, all recipes on this page have been analyzed by Child Nutrition Specialists and meet the USDA meal pattern requirements for schools and child centers. Delicious and healthy!


New School Cuisine CookBook.

New School Cuisine is the first-ever effort by public school cooks who wrote a hands-on cookbook for their peers. It is the only cookbook that is for school cooks, by school cooks; includes only kid-tested recipes; and features local, seasonal ingredients and farm to school resources.

The book includes more than 75 recipes for school kitchens to prepare healthy, locally-sourced meals for their students. It's a practical resource for child nutrition programs: each recipe is in USDA format, yields school-sized quantities, includes a nutritional analysis and contains information on the specific food components that credit towards meeting the USDA meal pattern.

*You will need to provide an email to download this free resource.


Recipes for Healthy Kids 

The recipes in this cookbook feature foods both children and adults should consume more of: dark green and orange vegetables, dry beans and peas, and whole grains. All of these healthy recipes are low in total fat, saturated fat, sugar and sodium. With fun names like Porcupine Sliders, Smokin' Powerhouse Chili, and Squish Squash Lasagna, these kid-tested, kid-approved recipes are sure to please children and be an instant hit!


California Department of Education: California Culinary Centers Standardized Recipes

A collection of standardized recipes and resources to support schools across California in creating menus to meet the National School Lunch Program meal pattern.

This collection of school district culinary center recipes reflects a variety of strategies for scratch cooking, including using locally grown California produce and multicultural flavors that students love.


Chef Designed School Lunch

All of the meals in this Chef Designed School Lunch book were developed by a Culinary Chef and Registered Dietitian. Chef Brenda Thompson used her combination of culinary chef expertise and nutrition knowledge to create healthy meals that incorporate new flavors and a variety of great tastes.


American Indian Traditional Foods in USDA School Meals Programs: A Wisconsin Farm to School Toolkit  

American Indian nations of Wisconsin hold meaningful traditions and cultural ties to native foods. In an effort to support the communities interested in incorporating these traditions and native foods into schools, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) School Nutrition Team created the American Indian Traditional Foods in USDA School Meals Programs: A Wisconsin Farm to School Toolkit. This toolkit provides guidance for administering school meals programs in Wisconsin so that farm to school programs and traditional foods may be implemented into school cafeterias, classrooms, and gardens. This will give American Indian students the opportunity to experience the use of their traditional foods in the school breakfast and lunch programs, all while promoting positive, healthy eating habits.


Offering Smoothies as Part of Reimbursable School Meals

This twenty-page booklet provides menu planning ideas, crediting tips, sample menus, and more to show school nutrition professionals how both scratch-made and commercially-prepared smoothies can be offered as part of a reimbursable school breakfast or lunch.


USDA Fact Sheet: Bringing Tribal Foods and Traditions into Cafeterias, Classrooms, and Gardens 

This fact sheet explores how schools and tribes are integrating traditional foods into child nutrition programs, buying traditional foods locally, and incorporating multicultural nutrition education into classroom curriculum and hands-on lessons in school gardens.