09/07/2012 06:11 pm ET

Table Talk: Local School Lunches

This week's Family Dinner Table Talk, from HuffPost and The Family Dinner book:

The beginning of the new school year has brought a familiar subject -- school lunch -- back into the spotlight.

While some students bring their own lunches to school (and at least one artistic dad goes all-out making them look special), millions of others eat meals cooked and served in school cafeterias.

New government rules about these meals came into effect this year. HuffPost Education reports that, among other things, schools must now "offer dark green, orange or red vegetables at least once a week, and students must choose at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal."

Where do all those fruits and veggies come from? A growing number of schools are looking to buy them from nearby farms. In fact, organizations designed to connect schools and farmers -- called "food hubs" -- have already created successful programs in California, Vermont and Oregon. Produce bought through these “hubs” is local, fresh and sometimes even more affordable than the alternative.

If you like the sound of this, and want to get something similar started at your school, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service has produced this guide that can help you get started.

Questions for discussion:
  • What do you normally eat for lunch at school?
  • How is school food different from what you eat at home?
  • How could your school food be healthier?

In her cookbook, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie and every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.



New School Lunch Guidelines Effective Fall 2012