School cafeterias are finally giving kids what they really want: Lunchables


Lunchables will soon be a part of the school lunch program. Kraft Heinz, the parent company, has said that the products will be different than what’s currently sold in stores so as to meet federal guidelines, CNN reports.

The Kraft Heinz Company (KHC) spoke to CNN Business Tuesday and said that Lunchables in schools will be available nationwide for all school administrators to purchase and offer their students. Students will either purchase it in the lunch room or it could also be available for free through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). They did not disclose a possible purchase price.

kraft heinz luncahables doc
Kraft Heinz

Carlos Abrams-Rivera, an executive vice president with Kraft Heinz, said two new varieties of Lunchables will begin rolling out to schools later this fall for the upcoming 2023-2024 K-12 school year. They are said to have “improved nutrition” that will comply with the standards put in place by the NSLP.

The NSLP was established in 1946. They provide daily lunch to almost 30 million students nationwide in public and nonprofit private schools as well as residential child care institutions.

Kraft Heinz Away From Home, the foodservice division of the company, posted the information on their website. Lunchables school lunch would begin with two products. They’re described as being built for the lunchroom and “are also great for field trips, summer school and dinner programs.” A major plus point for schools is that the Lunchables need only be refrigerated, not frozen, which wouldn’t add to labor costs.

The document described a turkey and cheese option weighing in at 3.5 ounces—2-ounce equivalents of MMA (meat/meat alternative) and one ounce equivalent of grain. Reportedly, the grain would satisfy the “whole grain rich criteria” of the NSLP. In that same meeting with CNN, KHC said that the package would contain 6g of saturated fat and 930mg of sodium.

They described the second option as a cheese pizza package.

Kraft Heinz reported said that both options were made using “a specialized recipe that incorporates more protein and whole grains to keep kids powered throughout the day, reduced saturated fat and sodium, and an increased serving size.”

230310141853 restricted new lunchables products k 12 schools

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released proposed new changes to school food guidelines. The USDA oversees the federally assisted school meals program. The new standards aim to reduce sodium and sugar levels in school-provided lunches.

Since the USDA regulates what goes on a student’s meal plate, they require schools to meet certain criteria. They must offer five meal components—fruit, vegetable, protein, grain and milk. Students are only required to take at least three, including a fruit or veggie option, as part of their lunch.

Lunchables in schools would not take away a hot meal option either.

Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokesperson for the School Nutrition Association, said, “But I would see Lunchables as one of a couple of meal options, and not that schools are getting away from offering a daily hot meal option.”

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