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Bloomington yesterday: Remembering school lunches

Authored on
Bloomington Briefing Published January 4, 2022
Updated on January 4, 2022
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School lunches in Bloomington began in 1945 with a handful of volunteers from the Mother’s Club that prepared meals at the Red Cross’ canteen cookery. There was one school that housed kindergarten through 12th grade, and had about 500 students to feed. The quality and quantity of lunches increased through the years, but the creativity and wholesome appeal made those lunches memorable for most school children.

School lunches were prepared by following exact recipes. Pizza burger was a school lunch favorite. In a Bloomington Sun article, published in 1969, food service supervisor, Mrs. Lil Johnson, said, “We vary menus, repeat seldom except for things our customers like such as our famous pizza burgers.” 

Most everything was made from scratch and school cooks wasted nothing. There was a bread baker who baked all the breads, buns and rolls from scratch right on site at the schools. The popularity of the Bloomington school lunches resulted in a recipe-card-sized book published in the 1960s. “School Lunch Recipes” dedication page reads:  “With sincere appreciation and gratitude we dedicate this cookbook of home-size school recipes to our volunteer mothers who willingly give of their time to better our School Lunch Program. Bloomington Cooks.”

A copy of the recipe book is on display at the Bloomington Historical Society, 2215 West Old Shakopee Road.