Welcome to the eighth year of KIWI’s National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day! In it you’ll find all the information and resources you need to participate in our annual event, taking place this year on October 16.

From the time I founded KIWI magazine in 2006, a crucial part of our mission to raise families the natural way has been to do all we can to make sure America’s children are eating healthy food, and that includes the meals they eat when they’re in school. This was extremely important to the magazine and to me personally—and yet one day when my daughter, Maylee, was in elementary school, I realized I had no idea what her school was serving for lunch because I always packed hers. I knew what was on the menu and nothing more.

Around this same time, I received an invitation from my daughter’s school to join the students for lunch in the cafeteria. The universe was working! So I went in and had lunch with her. I sat with her and her friends, and I saw what they ate and heard the food service professionals talk about what they serve. The kids and the staff were amazing, and this remains one of my favorite memories from her elementary school years.

After that, I decided that all parents should have a chance to have lunch with their children in school—and in 2011, National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day was born. This is a day when schools throughout the United States showcase the healthy lunches they’re serving students—and parents learn about the school’s programs related to nutrition, wellness, and sustainability. It’s an opportunity for parents to become part of the process—to celebrate what’s great about school lunches and have an influence if improvements are needed. And it’s one of KIWI magazine’s favorite days of the year.

What started as an idea in my daughter’s school cafeteria is now a national event on thousands of school calendars across the country. We’re thrilled that we have encouraged so many schools to participate and even more thrilled when we hear back about the amazing lunches, gardens, and environmental initiatives that are now part of the education experience at so many schools in America. And we’re grateful to our supporters— the School Nutrition Association and Moms Meet—for their enthusiastic involvement.

At KIWI, our No. 1 goal is to raise healthier children—and National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day is an important part of that. I hope you’ll participate in an event on October 17 or help your school get one started. In this toolkit, in our guide, and on our website, we give you everything you need. Together, we can make a difference for our children.

Maxine Wolf, CEO and Publisher