October 13-17 is National School lunch Week—a time to increase awareness of the importance of school meals. Now in its fifty-first year, National School Lunch Week was originally established by a proclamation from President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and officially scheduled for the second full week of October each year by an act of Congress.
This year’s theme is “Get in the Game with School Lunch,” and encourages physical activity alongside the role of school nutrition programs in academic success and wellness.
For many of us, the school lunches we remember were probably not worth celebrating. Recently, however, updates to school nutrition guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have brought school food up to match nutrition standards. These changes include offering a wider variety of fruits and vegetables, more whole-grains and low-fat milk.
The School Nutrition Association, who among other initiatives, coordinates various national activities around National School Lunch Week offers several ways to get involved:
- Parents can encourage students to try the variety of fruits and vegetables available with school meals by offering more variety at home. They can also participate in National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day on October 15 to see for themselves what their children are being served.
- Teachers can incorporate lessons on healthy eating into the classroom, from studying the geographic origins of fruits and vegetables to using nutrition labels to calculate per package totals of sugar or sodium in popular snacks.
- Students can participate in the menu development process through taste tests and student advocacy committees.
- Administrators can support efforts to improve lunch period scheduling to ensure students have adequate time to eat.
The School Nutrition Association offers several resources to help promote National School Lunch Week including handouts for kids and parents, creative ways to adjust your menu and more.
If you participate in National School Lunch Week, let us know! Send your photos to email@example.com or on Twitter @Prevent_Obesity and we may feature them in the Inside Track or on Twitter!
See Flickr Creative Commons License here.