National School Lunch Week is October 13-17, 2003, and that means it is time to get Wild About School Lunch.
National School Lunch Week was established by Joint Resolution in Congress on October 9, 1962. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) was established in 1946 after many World War II recruits were turned away due to malnutrition. There was no national meal program in public schools to help meet the dietary needs of children. Today every child at a participating school may purchase a wholesome meal partially or completely subsidized by the federal government.
National School Lunch Program regulations require schools to meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. School lunches are designed to meet student dietary needs. School meals are planned to provide not more than 30 percent of calories from fat, and less than 10 percent from saturated fat. Lunch must provide one-third of the Recommended Dietary Allowances of protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and calories.
Meals served in the NSLP are age-appropriate serving sizes and no super sizing is permitted, making schools one of the last places in the U.S. where it is possible to purchase a meal with the recommended serving size. Studies indicate that students eating school lunch consume twice the servings of fruits and vegetables, and more grains and milk, than students who eat a lunch brought from home.
Nationwide more than 28 million children are served lunch every school day, in more than 99,000 schools. Approximately 13,000 Columbia County students enjoy a healthy school lunch every day.
While school lunches must meet federal nutrition requirements, our local school nutrition program determines what specific foods to serve as well as the method of preparation. Every month students identify their favorite foods and decide the menu for the day at their school. Student choice days are wildly popular with students of all ages.
Children who eat nutritious meals perform better in all aspects of their lives. Its time to celebrate the important contribution of the school lunch program to the health and well-being of our children.
Help your child be a part of a wild school lunch event by joining in the celebration at your childs school. How does an Island Paradise, Arctic Adventure or a Savannah Safari menu sound to you? Check with your childs school for specific lunch times, menus and events.
(Jo Marie Lombard, M.Ed., is school nutrition coordinator for Columbia County schools.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.