National School Lunch Week

October 10-14 is National School Lunch Week. This year’s theme, “Show Your Spirit,” reminds parents, students, and school officials that a healthy school lunch helps students power through the day!

Why celebrate school lunch?
The National School Lunch Program offers children an opportunity to eat a nutritionally balanced meal during the school day. Children who eat nutritious meals are ready to learn and have energy for physical activity.

School lunch menus are planned to provide children with the nutrients they need, and must not contain too much salt, fat, or sugar. Over the past 10 years, national rules have improved the quality of school food dramatically. School cafeterias are now offering more whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables—some grown on nearby farms. Meals always include a fruit and a vegetable along with the entrée, and some districts allow students to select multiple, or even unlimited, fruits and veggies.

How can I find out about my child’s school lunch program?
Most school districts post information about school meals on their website, including the monthly menu for all schools in the district. Your child’s school may include the menu in parent newsletters or other materials sent home. The menu may include meal prices. The fruit and vegetable that come with the full lunch can often be purchased separately to accompany a packed lunch.

If your family qualifies, you child may receive a free or reduced price lunch. For information on applying for free or reduced price meals or setting up a meals account, contact the main office at your child’s school.

Celebrating school lunch with your child
Below are some ideas for celebrating National School Lunch Week with your child:

  • Review the week’s menu with your child and identify which days they’ll buy lunch, and what items they are interested in selecting. Encourage them to try foods they haven’t had before—they may discover their new favorite food.

  • If the menu lists fruits and vegetables served with each meal, challenge your child to eat a different fruit or vegetable every day.

  • Check with your child’s teacher or principal to see if parents are welcome to eat lunch in the cafeteria. Bring cash to purchase a lunch (usually less than $3) and talk to your child and their friends about the meal. Be sure to use positive words when discussing healthy foods.

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This institution is an equal opportunity provider. This material was funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP in cooperation with Maryland's Department of Human Services and University of Maryland Extension. The University of Maryland Extension will not discriminate against any person because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry or national origin, marital status, genetic information, political affiliation, and gender identity or expression.
© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall