More Than Just Lunch

One in seven, or 11 million, children in America live in households without consistent access to adequate food. Every Monday morning, school nutrition professionals witness this hunger on the faces of students eagerly waiting in line for a school breakfast after a long weekend without enough to eat.

Armed with scientific research linking school meals and healthy diets to academic success, school nutrition professionals have worked to expand breakfast programs, launch summer and afterschool meal programs to meet students’ nutritional needs.

Expanding the School Breakfast Program:
On average, students who eat school breakfast have been shown to achieve 17.5% higher scores on standardized math tests and attend 1.5 more days of school per year ( No Kid Hungry). Unfortunately, tight school bus timetables, late student arrivals and early class schedules can limit participation in traditional cafeteria breakfast programs.

Fortunately, school nutrition professionals are finding creative ways to overcome these barriers. School breakfast participation is increasing through innovative delivery methods, such as grab-and-go service options, which allow students to quickly pick up their meal from the cafeteria or a hallway kiosk on their way to class. Many schools are even serving breakfast in the classroom so students can enjoy a healthy meal during morning announcements.

Summer Meals:
Every child deserves a carefree summer vacation, but for many kids, summer break means an end to the free and reduced price school meals they depend on during the school year. Thankfully, in many communities across the nation, school nutrition programs are stepping up to make sure children don’t go hungry this summer.

Through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program, schools serving low-income communities can provide free meals and snacks to children at school cafeterias, parks, playgrounds, public housing complexes, summer camps or churches.

Afterschool Snacks and Meals:
Through NSLP, nearly 23,000 schools and institutions serve healthy snacks to children participating in afterschool activities. Click on the links for more information on afterschool snacks, including a fact sheet detailing reimbursement rates, eligibility and menu requirements. Under the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), eligible sites serve a snack or a meal to children as part of afterschool activities. Visit USDA's CACFP page for more information.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program:
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program provides free fresh fruit and vegetable snacks to students during the school day in elementary schools with high free and reduced price eligibility rates. Participating schools receive between $50 to $75 per student each year.

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