School Lunch Lottery:

An Educational Game of Chance

The incidence of childhood obesity, diabetes, and a host of other health problems is on the rise, while frozen, processed, and fried foods have become the norm for school lunches. How do school lunch programs relate to the health of our kids, our communities, and the environment?

Who is managing the quality of the food our children get at school? Why aren't we?

The School Lunch Lottery is a community event in which participants taste, explore, and discuss current realities and future possibilities of school lunch. This participatory game is designed to create awareness and build cooperation at the community level to develop healthier school lunch options for our children.

What happens at a School Lunch Lottery?

Three different types of school lunch are served at a lottery event: a typical school lunch; a healthy bag lunch; and a wholesome and delicious school cafeteria "lunch of the future." (see menus below) Participants receive a ticket at random for one of the three types of lunches. This vivid experiential presentation provides a great opportunity for discussion over lunch -- during and after the event day. The old saying rings true: the shortest way to the heart - and the head - is through the stomach.

Why do this?

The goal of the lottery event is to gather a broad spectrum of stakeholders and decision-makers at the table (literally and figuratively) to address the current crisis in school lunch policy as it relates to childhood nutrition and well-being. This motivational exercise has three key take home messages:

  • We must work to change school lunches in support of America's kids.
  • Modeling good eating behavior at home provides a long-term influence for children.
  • Healthy short-term school lunch alternatives exist while we work toward long term solutions.

Who participates in a School Lunch Lottery?

Concerned parents, teachers, school administrators, school board members, community leaders, community organizations, food service contractors, policy makers, local media, local farmers, community health care professionals.

Who started the School Lunch Lottery?

The School Lunch Lottery was developed in partnership by leading pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene (; "renegade lunch lady" Chef Ann Cooper (, and Organic Valley Family of Farms, the nation's leading organic family farm cooperative.

Where do I get more information?

This Lunch Lottery brochure (pdf) includes a comparison of benefits and drawbacks of the three lunch options for the event -- and for American schoolchildren. See these resource links for more background.

Menus for the 3 types of lunches served (pdf):

typical school lunch with meat | vegetarian

healthy school lunch with meat | vegetarian

home-pack healthy sack lunch with meat | vegetarian

Do-It-Yourself School Lunch Lottery

Give your community a taste of school lunch! Download the DIY brochure (pdf) for more information and resources for creating your own event.

Lunch Lessons: New from 'Renegade Lunch Lady' Chef Ann Cooper

Lunch Lessons by Ann Cooper

Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children by Ann Cooper and Lisa Holmes (Harper Collins, September, 2006). Inspiration and food for thought, plus over 100 delicious kid-friendly recipes! Look for it at your favorite bookstore, or get it in the Organic Valley General Store


Recipe for Change: One Lunch Lady's Fight for our Children's Future

Read Chef Ann's story! (download PDF here)

Tips for Healthy Eating

What you can do at home. Parents, take these points to heart!

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