One way to increase participation in your child nutrition program is to serve food that is “fun” for students. Consider tweaking your menu on October 31 (or any time during fall) to really celebrate Halloween or the fall harvest. With an edible marker, you can draw spooky jack-o-lantern faces on the cherry tomatoes in your salad bar, or cut jack-o-lantern faces into stuffed bell peppers or low-fat cheese on an open-faced burger. You can decorate Rice Krispy treats, cupcakes or cookies with spiders or witch hats. You could also use spooky Jell-O Jigglers to create bat, cat, ghost or pumpkin-shaped Jell-O treats. The opportunities are truly endless when it comes to Halloween treats – just a quick Internet or Pinterest search can produce a long list of fun and exciting recipes or snack ideas for your Halloween menu.
Although you can’t serve candy to your students (don’t worry – they’ll get plenty of that if they go trick-or-treating!), you can serve some of these items to hold them over. Just make sure to tweak the recipes to meet your program’s nutritional requirements.
If you’re looking for some menu ideas that aren’t Halloween-focused, consider serving fall-inspired items like healthy apple cider, pumpkin seed brittle, baked cinnamon apples, pumpkin apple dip or creamy pumpkin squares. To find recipes for some of these tasty items, please click here. If students come to find that holidays bring special, fun menu items in their cafeteria, they will be more likely to participate!