Chef Joey – 🎵🎶🎵🎹 to our tummies!

It’s back-to-school time! Cheers, parents!


Text, recipes and photos by Chef Joey

Woo Drivers! Please SLOW DOWN WHEN YOU DRIVE THRU OUR INNER-CITY neighborhoods – there are many Worcester Public Elementary Schools in these neighborhoods! pic: R.T.

Well, it’s that time of year, sort of like January 2 when students are off for their winter break and parents are jumping for joy. Yes, we have the anticipated “Back to School” media blitz and all those school supplies and clothing ads.

Joey’s Gigi starts preschool soon!

Here she is with her cousins!

The mumbles of “We used to go back in September!!” and “Why August?” are heard among the people. The start date, does not really matter because the length of the school term is the same.

So we all know that education has been around for years. During the early beginnings of our country, the settlers would designate someone to teach kids, but it was more about survival techniques. It wasn’t until after the American Revolution – between 1750 and 1870 – that parochial schools appeared – thanks to the efforts by parishes. Generally, these “parochial” schools were just for the elementary grades. Open to all children in the parish, being of course mainly Catholics but also Lutherans, Calvinists and Orthodox Jews.

“Nonsectarian Common Schools” started opening up in America, thanks to the late, great Massachusetts State Rep. Horace Mann. His reason for promulgating public schools? “Universal public education was the best way to turn the nation’s unruly children into disciplined, judicious republican citizens.”! The principle was to teach the Three “R’s”: Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. But ALSO with a side serving of geography and history!

Massachusetts was the first state to pass a law making education mandatory in 1852. It wasn’t until 1917 – in Mississippi – that a second state passed the same law!

In the 1890s high schools were starting to emerge and, by 1910, more than three quarters of American children were in school. During this time teacher accreditation and creating standards for exams and course requirements were established – still prevalent today. Moving closer to 1930, there was 100% student enrollment – except disabled or medically challenged children. Then there was a plunge due to World War II.

Post-WW II-America is where the food aspect came into our schools. The National School Lunch Act was created in 1946 to provided low-cost or free school lunches to students via subsidies for the “full stomach” idea.

The awful part about all this was that in some states, school lunch was not offered to African American students. They were literally banned from the school lunch programs!

It wasn’t until the late 1950s that things started to change: Great strides! We are fortunate enough to have coalitions for just about everyone/everything, but we still as educated adults tend to fight the road to the future … That’s another column.

School lunches have come full circle to nutritious well-balanced and ethnic pleasing menus! But there are still those students who like to bring their own lunches. In today’s world of ready to go food, lunches are a breeze to put together!

Here are a few school lunch ideas to spruce up your child’s lunch break!:

Cold Pizza – Wrapped in foil it warms up by lunch time. And who doesn’t like cold pizza??

No pizza? Pizza wraps! Fast and easy and you can add all kinds of toppings! Take 2 tortilla wraps and spray with vegetable spray on both sides and place on a cookie sheet. Place in preheated 400 degree oven. Toast for 5 minutes. Remove and top with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and whatever else you like: olives, peppers, pepperoni etc. Put back in the oven and bake 5-8 minutes until the cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and, using a spatula, flip over each side making an envelope of sorts. Let cool, wrap in foil and refrigerate. Place in fridge and place in kids’ lunch bags the next day. Easy to make and fun to eat. Healthy – and inexpensive!

Hummus Lunch – lots of protein

Veggie sticks and some fresh fruit. Make a small container of hummus, carrots and celery, or a small bag with fruit for dessert: cherries, plums apples… Yummy and Fun!😄😄😄


Yogurts are a great protein and don’t necessarily need to be refrigerated, as it is already cultured. Two containers have plenty of protein, and with fruit, it is like dessert!

Try and stay away from pre-processed meats and lunches!!

The sodium alone is brutal!

Get back to basics, with salads, berries, nuts, citrus slices … and cheeses, chick peas or beans for protein to break it up!

You know your child better than anyone – take their favorite yum yums and make ’em portable!

Papa Joey to the lunch-time rescue!!!!