Thursday, June 3, 2010


School lunch desserts are a thorn in my side.  A parent requested 100% juice popsicles for lunch.  Unfortunately, the only ones we found were twice the size of our normal 1.6 oz bars and correspondingly twice the calories and sugar.  A vendor gave my cafeteria samples of new whole-wheat cookies made just for schools.  The cookies tasted awful and were loaded with more preservatives and sugar than comparable normal cookies.  The “better” dessert eludes me.            

Here’s what we serve for dessert: 

2 x a week:  Frozen treats – fudge bars, ice cream sandwiches, Italian ices, creamsicle etc.  

1 x a week: Canned peaches, pineapple or pears in juice or fresh fruit such as grapes and oranges 

1 x week: Baked goods such as cookies, cake or brownies

1 x week: miscellaneous desserts - jello, pudding or an extra baked good

Dessert in moderation is a perfectly nice way to end a meal.  Some schools have banned desserts from cafeterias all together.   My school hasn’t gone there yet though it might in the future.  Next year, I’d like to offer a wider variety of fresh fruit – and more often - especially when it’s in season.  I bet strawberries from our local farm make a great last-day-of-school dessert.      


  1. Why is dessert served daily in school? My daughter is in kindergarten so she is allowed to have dessert only on Fridays. They are offered a wide variety of choices -- cake, cookies, ice cream, etc. I certainly don't think it is necessary. At home we do not have dessert on a daily basis with dinner. What nutritional value does dessert offer that it should be included every day?

  2. Danielle- I find that dessert offers the nutrient called "pleasure" in a way that savory foods do not. Enjoying food is an important part of eating, don't you think? Dessert doesn't have to be a huge portion of super sweet confection. At our house we've gotten into eating one small (but really good) piece of chocolate or a small serving of fruit compote with vegan pouring custard... think runny pie without the crusts and much less sugar. Both are quite healthy.

    Lunch lady- have you thought about the compote idea? I've found that adding dried, unsweetened, apples to fresh or frozen fruit really sucks up the juices. No doubt other dried fruits would work too. Being crustless and un-thinckened it's gluten free and so simple that surely your "cooks" wouldn't balk too much at the effort of opening bags of dried and frozen fruits.

  3. When it comes to desserts we do try and keep the sugar down and sneek in the whole grains like oatmeal or whole wheat. We also do things like cobbler which can be made in larger batches w/a combination fresh, frozen or canned fruit. Frozen fruit & yogurt smoothies are pretty easy all you need is a blender.

    Dessert isn't all bad and it something for the kids to look forward to. Kids will associate choc. chip cookies w/ dessert if you serve them cookies all the time. My advise would be mix it up and expose them to better / other options.

  4. I agree that dessert isn't something kids need at every meal. But it is mind-boggling that the corp food attitude not only thinks it needs to be there- but also that in trying to make a 'healthy' dessert, they are adding more junk to kids' diets! Fresh fruit in season is great and plenty of dessert for school lunches, IMO

  5. We have fruit choices daily (at least one kind fresh, the other 2 or 3 are canned), I don't think the students would consider that to be dessert.

    About once a week, we have a dessert type item, like a sherbet cup, graham crackers, a churro on taco day, cookie, mini ice cream bar, granola bar.

  6. I don't think dessert is needed at every meal either. I'm surprised it's considered necessary for lunch! It was always a dinner item in my family.

    With my kids, they sometimes get cookies or other treats in their lunchboxes but not every day. Sugary treats are not a daily item here.

    However, I don't consider fruit a dessert item. It might be sweet and yummy but pineapple (fresh, or canned in juice) or a fresh peach or blueberries are all something that they have every day. How about just a fruit cup (with no added sugar, just in juice) or a piece of fruit for dessert? Leave it to the parents to give them cookies and cake and ice cream when they want to.

  7. Sorry, edited to say you already do fruit some days. I meant to suggest every day.