Dayle Hayes, MS, RD, is Past-Chair of the School Nutrition Services Dietetic Practice Group (DPG) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Adapted from her blog, School Meals That Rock.
School nutrition – including in-school meals offered for breakfast, lunch, and after-school snacks - are hot topics these days. Everyone, it seems - from the First Lady to local administrators - is talking about the importance of nutrient-rich meals for children's health and academic performance. All of this interest in school nutrition is good news for families who want healthful foods for their children, and all across the country, school nutrition programs are upping their game to offer nutritionist-approved, kid-pleasing options!
The school lunch program serves 30+ million students a variety of choices every day. Thanks to the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, as well as dedicated school nutrition professionals and thousands of health, nutrition and industry partners, kids now have access to a truly amazing variety of:
That's just a taste of what schools are serving to help students to be well-nourished, healthy, and ready to succeed. What’s next on the horizon? You will likely see more farm to school options, entrée salads, and fruit and vegetable snacks in the school cafeteria, as well as more nutrition education in the classroom and more school gardens. Now that USDA’s Smart Snacks in School rule is being implemented nationwide, school snacks and fundraisers will be more healthful too! What a great time to be eating at school!
Parents with busy schedules can feel good about taking advantage of the options offered for lunch and breakfast at school! Wonderful things are happening in school kitchens and cafeterias all across the country - and your children can enjoy them as they head back to the classroom this fall.
If you have questions about your school's meals (or wonder when you school will offer the options listed above), it’s always a good idea to discuss your concerns directly with the school’s nutrition director. Listen carefully to what they are already doing and find out how you can work together for the future health of all students.
The great news is that the real school nutrition revolution has been going on for years.
"Lunch ladies" (and gentlemen) from coast to coast have been working hard to serve up school meals with delicious nutrition to fuel strong bodies and smart brains.
The Low-Down on School Lunch: How We’re Doing:
(Lunch trays image courtesy of Savannah County Schools, GA)
Dayle Hayes, MS, RD, helps agencies and organizations create healthier school environments across the country. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and read in-depth analysis of school food issues on her blog, School Meals That Rock.
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For more on keeping your kids healthy and well-nourished for Back-to-School, check out the It's All About You guidebook.
MARCH 2016: Editor’s Note: “Marching” Toward Better Health • 3 Tips to “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” This National Nutrition Month • 8 Spices from Around the World • Future of Food, Part II: Serving Up Meat, Over Glass • Tip o’ the Mornin’ to You: Don’t Feel Green on St. Patrick’s Day (or Any Day)
FEBRUARY 2016: Editor’s Note: Future Foods, Coming to a Plate Near You • Future of Food, Part I: Food Innovations of Tomorrow • Why You Should Check Food Labels for Potential Allergens • Super Confused About Super Foods? An Educated Consumer Is a Healthy Consumer • How Librarians Prevent the “Dunning-Kruger Effect” • Citrus: Great Fruits for Heart Health
JANUARY 2016: Editor’s Note: Gold Medals and Silver Anniversaries • Feeling List-less? Then Check Out This Litany of New Year’s Food Trends • Happy 25th Anniversary, IFIC Foundation!: Serving Up Food Insights • A History of Communication: Insights from IFIC Foundation’s Sylvia Rowe Fellows
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015: Chew on This: A Food Technologist Puts Red and Processed Meat in Perspective • Understanding, Evaluating, and Communicating Nutrition, Part III: Research Funding • Training the Next Generation of Science Communicators, Part II • Achoo!: Food and Other "Prescriptions" for Surviving Cold and Flu Season • When Nutrition Gets Personal: Study Shows New Frontiers in Understanding Glycemic Response
OCTOBER 2015: Orphan Crops • Answering the Challenge of "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" • Weeding Through the Facts on Herbicide Resistance • Rainy Day in Nashville Fails to Dampen RDs' Spirits • Understanding, Evaluating, and Communicating Nutrition, Part II • Training the Next Generation of Science Communicators, Part I
SEPTEMBER 2015: 4 Clever Food Safety Hacks • Hashtags & Hyperbole • Understanding, Evaluating, and Communicating Nutrition, Part I
SUMMER 2015: What's Your Health Worth?, EXPO Milano 2015, "Single Study Syndrome"
MAY 2015: Future of Food (EXPO Milano), Grilling Tips, Food & Health Survey Webcast
APRIL 2015: Food & Nutrition Lessons from Mom, Microbiome, Flowers & Food Security
MARCH 2015: Chemophobia, Fitness Trackers, Dietary Guidelines 2015
FEBRUARY 2015: Farming Cocoa for Your Valentine’s Day Chocolate, At the Heart of Fats and Oils
DECEMBER 2014/JANUARY 2015: 2015 Food Trends Forecast, Gluten & Health, Life after PHOs
NOVEMBER 2014: A Very Southern Farm Tour, Diabetes Awareness, Turkey Safety for Thanksgiving
OCTOBER 2014: RDNs for Nutrition Expertise, Nutrition Behavior Profiles, Fall Food Days
SEPTEMBER 2014: Food Safety Month, Physical Activity & Obesity, Using Video for Education
AUGUST 2014: Back-to-School Nutrition, Pesticide & Health, Sustainable Nutrition
JULY 2014: Perceptions of Food Technology, Millennial Food Preferences, Introducing the FACTS Network
MAY/JUNE 2014: Food & Health Survey, Produce Safety, Summer Grilling Tips
APRIL 2014: ASN & Processed Food, "Banned Ingredients"
MARCH 2014: Nutrition is in Bloom - Changes to the NFP, Nutrient Adequacy, Trans Fat Q&A