My older son has been studying in public schools since he was six. He is now a freshman at George C. Marshall High School. While he is enjoying the academic part of the school, he cannot stop talking about how good the food is in the cafeteria. Yes, really good and freshly prepared food in a public school cafeteria. The fresh food bar is called the Statesmen Station. Principal Pearson and Real Food For Kids, a parent-led group that advocates to improve school food in Fairfax County public schools, worked with the school board and Food and Nutrition Services to create the whole, fresh foods pilot lunch program at Marshall. It features a soup, salad and sandwich bar filled with freshly made items. What I really love is that some of the students at the school have created a nutrition club and are working on healthy dishes they love that will be incorporated into the menus.

Take a look at this super fantastic video by the talented Marshall High School drama students, MC Horne and the Fresh wRappers (formed for this event), of their school-food music rap. I am telling you, this is one of the most innovative and terrific videos I have ever seen and it is done by a group of young kids!

Here is the story, told in pictures! The kids were asked to write what they wanted to “fill their plates with” and here is what they said –

And this

The food bar

And the cost of the meals for the students:

All the food is sourced locally making this a real role model for the industry as a whole.

I asked why they chose Marshall High for the project. Mary Pope of Real Food for Kids responded via email, “Our goal is to have similar fresh, whole food menus in all schools.   Elementary schools are particularly important because taste preferences for foods and eating habits are formed early.  When the School Board allocated funding for a pilot kitchen, Real Food For Kids considered several schools, including an elementary school.   Marshall HS proved to be an ideal candidate because it was, and is still,  undergoing a three-year renovation project which allowed time to properly plan the kitchen and make essential equipment purchases.   School and community support is also essential to make meaningful change and Marshall High School has strong leadership within the administration and a very positive and strong parent community.”

About Real Food For Kids As the local face of the national school wellness movement, Real Food For Kids is committed to working collaboratively to increase the quantities of healthful foods in Fairfax County Public Schools and supporting programs that educate students and their families to make more healthful lifestyle choices. Real Food For Kids successfully advocated for an independent assessment of the current food program, aiming to find innovative ways to bring more fresh, less processed foods to students. It also spearheaded the move to a soda-free school pilot in eight middle and high schools that will launch in fall 2013. Further, with strong school board support, it helped establish a pilot fresh soup, salad and sandwich bar as part of the lunch program at George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church. For more information, please visit

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  1. That is totally awesome! I love that your son and all the others are appreciating it so much, too. When you only give them real food and not just a little of that in addition to the other usually crappy cafeteria fare, they do start realizing how good the food tastes in comparison! Thanks for sharing, Monica. 🙂


  2. The program is terrific. I have one concern anytime the public handles ready to eat foods. Prior to beginning such a program are the students and staff instructed in the dangers of cross contamination from the hands of the participants? The hands may not be touching the food but they do touch utensils and several instances of food bore illness have been traced to utensils used on self serve bars. It is vital that everyone understand how important hand washing is to the safe operation of a self serve bar.

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