National School Lunch Week
October 10, 2014
This year’s National School Lunch Week is coming up! Next week, October 13-17, schools will celebrate healthy lunches with the national theme “Get in the Game with School Lunch,” intended to encourage kids to find a balance between healthy eating and physical activity.
Created in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, National School Lunch Week is a celebratory week of events and activities promoting the benefits of the National School Lunch Program, which provides nutritionally balanced low-cost or free lunches to children each school day in over 100,000 schools and child care institutions. Today, the program remains important to the health of children, their families, and the environment. Healthy food should be a daily practice for everyone, and it is especially important for school lunches to be both filling and healthy. Children spend two-thirds of their waking hours in school and over 30 million children eat at least one meal at school each day.
National School Lunch Week engages both parents and students, allowing them to think deeper about their eating and physical activity choices. Eating healthy food creates healthy bodies: helping to curb growing rates of obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Because a healthy lifestyle consists of both nutritious foods and exercise, it is important to “Get in the Game” with both recess and school lunches.
During last year’s National School Lunch Week, President Obama made a proclamation addressing the need to increase servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Switching from preserved foods to fresh fruits and vegetables also helps the environment. With almost 20% of global carbon emissions originating from the global food system, greening food supplies and cafeterias can greatly reduce a schools’ carbon footprint.
Teachers can involve their school and students by:
- Celebrating local stars: asking a local high school or college athlete to come in, eat lunch with students, and say a few words about the importance of healthy eating and exercise
- Keeping parents in the loop with the lunch menu for the week and the parent/student backpack brochure
- Decorating the school with posters, balloons, and more to celebrate the event
- Incorporating physical activity into lesson plans
- Supporting longer recesses and healthier food within their school and district
- Getting the word out using the school’s social media platforms, newsletters, and email. Schools can also take advantage of resources, templates, and tip sheets from Student Nutrition Association (SNA) to get their celebration recognized by the school district, community, and local media