The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation encourages parents to make a date with their child to eat a healthy school lunch. (Click to view a larger version)
More than 50 million children around the country attend schools that participate in USDA’s National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Programs. And not only are their meals full of nutritious ingredients – with 99 percent of schools nationwide reporting that they are successfully meeting the updated nutrition standards – their entire learning environment fosters healthy habits now and throughout the rest of their lives. During National School Lunch Week 2016, USDA and partners like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, are celebrating this progress.
It’s National School Lunch Week and this year we have more to celebrate than ever before!
Over the past decade, significant policy changes have sparked a national movement that has transformed the school nutrition landscape and created a new healthier era for school foods. Many of these policies were initiated by USDA, including updated nutrition standards for the meals and snacks schools offer, as well as updated requirements for local wellness policies.
Thanks to these developments and incredible efforts by schools to put them in place, millions of students across America not only have healthier meals, snacks, and drinks at school – they’re also learning healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Read more »
Maple Avenue Market Farm co-owner Sara Guerre invited students to learn about their local farmers, during a National School Lunch Week event at Nottingham Elementary School in Arlington, VA, on Wednesday, October 12, 2011. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
Bridgette Matthews is a Lead Mentor for USDA’s Team Up for Nutrition Success Initiative, which provides school food authorities with tailored technical assistance and training to successfully implement the school meal patterns. Here, Bridgette discusses the importance of training for school nutrition staff. A recent study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the majority of school food service directors believe their staffs need more training to maximize the benefits of the new nutrition standards. Bridgette’s examples demonstrate how proper training can not only help staff meet the new standards, but also prepare them to teach students about making healthy choices.
By Bridgette Matthews, School Nutrition Director for Elbert County Schools, Georgia
Like their fellow educators down the hall, the school nutrition professionals I work with must be well-prepared to answer students’ tough questions. That’s why staff training and development are crucial parts of our school meal program—for me as the director and for our whole team.
Nutrition training is particularly important for my front-line servers and cashiers, because they’re the ones who talk with students the most each day. How they respond to even a seemingly minor question—such as “Why doesn’t this sandwich have pickles?”—can affect children’s choices and their overall impression of our program. Read more »
A new poll shows that parents of school-age children overwhelmingly support national nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold to students during the school day. For more information, visit: www.pewtrusts.org/SchoolFoodParentPoll. Click to enlarge.
Over the past four years, USDA has worked closely with schools, parents, community leaders, and nutrition experts to ensure that when children go off to school, they are greeted by a healthier school environment. According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, leading to an increase in obesity-related health outcomes in children, including cardiovascular disease, pre-diabetes, and bone and joint problems. Improving school nutrition is vital to reducing childhood obesity, because many children consume half of their daily calories during the school day. Making the healthy choice the easy choice sets our nation’s children up for a lifetime of healthy choices, and supports a healthier next generation. Recently, we’ve seen evidence that student acceptance of healthier meals is increasing across all grade levels. Today, we are pleased to see the results of the latest poll by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the American Heart Association, showing that most parents support the healthier meal and snack standards implemented through the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010.
Read more about the results of that study in this guest blog, from the American Heart Association.
A majority of parents favor strong national nutrition standards for food and drink sold at schools, according to a poll released Monday by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association.
In addition, the poll found that parents would also like to see salt limited in school foods and more fruits and vegetables served. Read more »
School meals play a major role in shaping the diets and health of young people. FNS photo.
With nearly 31 million students now participating in the National School Lunch Program each day, sound nutrition at school plays an essential role in supporting a healthier next generation. But when the new standards were developed by pediatricians and other child nutrition experts, USDA was also looking for students to enjoy the healthier offerings they receive.
And according to a new report, the majority of our nation’s children are accepting these new school meals. This great news is part of a just-released study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that finds 70 percent of elementary school leaders nationwide reported that students like the healthier school lunches that rolled out in fall 2012. Other highlights of the research include: Read more »