Lunchables make the leap into the school lunch line

The kid-favorite retail brand will be offered on school menus as early as this fall.
Two Lunchables items will be making their debut on school menus this fall. / Photo: Shutterstock

A popular bring-from-home lunch option could be coming to school menus nationwide. 

Two Lunchables items will be making their debut on the cafeteria line as early as this fall, Kraft Heinz Executive Vice President Carlos Abrams-Rivera announced at the annual Consumer Analyst Group of New York in February, according to a transcript of the event.

Kraft Heinz reworked its Turkey and Cracker Stackers and Extra Cheesy Pizza Lunchables to fit National School Lunch Program meal requirements. The Turkey and Cracker Stackers, for example, will count as two servings of meat/meat alternatives and one serving of whole grains.  

Lunchables were introduced to grocery store shelves in 1988 as a ready-to-eat meal that kids could customize. The Extra Cheesy Pizza version, for example, allows kids to top their own mini crusts with cheese and sauce to their liking. 

The meals are so popular that school nutrition programs have introduced their own versions to entice students to dine with them. The nutrition team at Charleston County Schools in Charleston, S.C., served their own “Lunchables” during the pandemic as a grab-and-go option. The meals “were a hit with students,” Nutrition Services Director Walter Campbell said. 

Lunchables are breaking into the K-12 segment during an uncertain time. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is looking at reworking its school nutrition standards, which will affect sodium, sugar and whole-grain requirements for school meals going forward. Some operators are worried that manufacturers won’t be able to keep up with the new standards and will cut K-12 products as a result.

School nutrition operators and manufacturers are also continuing to face supply chain issues, labor shortages and rising costs. Abrams-Rivera did not share any information about how the proposed nutrition standards or other challenges would impact Lunchables' foray into schools. 



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