NUTRITION AND MEAL SERVICES
NUTRITION AND MEAL SERVICES IN PUBLIC SHOOLS
Our public school districts provide every student with access to nutritious school meals. Federal school lunch programs like the National School Lunch Program administer free and low-cost lunches to over 30 million children each day. The School Breakfast Program feeds breakfast to over 10 million students each morning! The US Department of Agriculture administers free school lunch programs for students and families.
To ensure food security outside of the school day, some families also receive SNAP benefits. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal nutrition assistance program. SNAP provides benefits via an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. The SNAP EBT card is used as a debit card to purchase SNAP-eligible food in authorized stores.
Schools follow the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans for meals, beverages, and snacks that are served or sold in public schools. School nutrition departments follow food safety and nutrition guidelines. Public school lunch programs work hard to provide nourishing, appealing, and delicious meals. However, charter schools and other education programs are not required to follow the same guidelines.
In 2012, the Hunger-Free Kids Act allowed the USDA to make school lunch reforms. Child nutrition departments are required to include more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains while decreasing the amounts of trans fats and sodium. (Center for Science in the Public Interest- School Meals).
Participation in school meals includes several benefits for children as many students receive the majority of their meals from school. Children who eat breakfast at school are shown to visit the school nurse less often and have better attention spans. A balanced diet improves a child’s all-around health. The CDC states that a poor diet increases the chance of obesity and possibly impede brain growth. (K12 Academics Article)
SCHOOL NUTRITION NEWS
School breakfast provides academic, wellness, and behavioral benefits to students.