Want to join us in a school lunch taste test?

Samara Freemark
Public Insight Network
School lunch photo by Laura Taylor via Flickr

(Photo by Laura Taylor via Flickr)

This fall, as the school year gets underway, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is implementing new school lunch standards that require schools to offer fruits and vegetables every day, use more whole grains and serve low-fat milk.J

Having school lunch in the spotlight made a few of us here at PIN think back to our own memories of cafeteria meals. We started reminiscing about the tater tots, the sloppy Joes, the fish sticks: If we ate them today, would they taste the way we remember?

And then we discovered the USDA’s online repository of recipes for school meals.

So the Public Insight Network editorial team decided to throw a School Lunch Potluck. Next week, we’ll cook up beef stroganoff, scalloped potatoes, taco pie, and all kinds of other favorites from our school years – using the current-day recipes from the USDA – to see how much the times have changed.

We’ll post photos and audio from the potluck here on our site.

And we want YOU to join us in this nostalgic experiment.

Here’s how it works:

1. Pick your favorite basic school meal recipe from the USDA’s website (or get fancy with an expanded set of recipes here). Unless you’re serving a group of 50, you’ll probably have to scale the recipes down, but don’t worry: The USDA has instructions on how to do that here.

2. Cook for your family, cook for your friends, cook for your colleagues — or gather a group of people together and host your own school lunch potluck.

3. Click here to tell us about your meal and share your photos.

Finally, we’d be thrilled if you sent us some audio of your guests’ reactions to the meal by clicking the SoundCloud button below to record and upload your sound.Send us your sounds!And even if you don’t have the time or inclination to be part of our virtual potluck, please click the link below anyway to share your own school lunch memories.

>> Share your story: Tell us your school lunch experience and join the taste test!



Samara Freemark Reporter
Public Insight Network

Reporter/producer Samara Freemark joined the Public Insight Network after four years at Radio Diaries in New York City, where she spent her time helping ordinary people tell their extraordinary stories for NPR. In the process, she developed an unshakeable belief in the beauty and power of personal narrative.

Before Radio Diaries Samara worked as an environmental reporter, a posting that took her to sinking islands, Superfund sites, and literal snakepits – Burmese pythons, to be exact. She also churned out copy and tape in the newsroom of WUOM Ann Arbor. Before settling on a career in radio she tried out policy research, community organizing, and urban planning before deciding she preferred soundwaves to spreadsheets.