School Meals 101: What Families Should Know
Did You Know That:
- Children who eat school meals are more likely to consume milk, fruit and vegetables and less likely to eat desserts and snack items than children who do not.
- The National School Lunch Program and Breakfast programs are federally assisted programs.
- A school lunch is required to offer five food components at lunch, including fruit, vegetable, grain, meat or meat alternate, and milk
- A student must take 3 of the five components at lunch and one must be a fruit or vegetable
- A school breakfast is required to offer four components including fruit, grain, meat/meat alternate, milk
- A student must take 3 of the four components at breakfast and one must be a fruit
Tips for families:
- Eat Right:
- Make half your grains whole. Choose whole-grain foods such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, and low-fat popcorn, more often.
- Vary your veggies. Go dark green and orange with your vegetables - eat spinach, broccoli, carrots, or dried and go easy on the fruit juice.
- Focus on fruits. Eat them at meals, and at snack time, too. Choose fresh, frozen, canned, or dried, and go easy on the fruit juice.
- Get your calcium-rich foods. To build strong bones serve low-fat and fat-free milk and other milk products several times a day.
- Go Lean with protein. Eat lean or low-fat meat, chicken, turkey, and fish. Also, change your tune with more dry beans and peas. Add chickpeas, nuts, or seeds to a salad; or kidney beans to soup.
- Change your oil. We all need oil. Get yours from fish, nuts, and liquid oils such corn, soybean, canola, and olive oil.
- Don't sugarcoat it. Choose foods and beverages that do not have sugar and caloric sweeteners as one of the first ingredients. Added sugars contribute calories with few, if any, nutrients.
- Set a good example. Be active and get your family to join you. Have fun together. Play with the kids or pets. Go for a walk, tumble in the leaves, or play catch.
- Take the President's challenge as a family. Track your individual physical activities together and earn awards for active lifestyles at www.presidentschallenge.org.
- Establish a routine. Set aside time each day as activity time- walk, jog, skate, cycle, or swim. Adults need at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week; children 60 minutes every day or most days.
- Have an activity party. Make the next birthday party centered on physical activity. Try backyard Olympics or relay races. Have a bowling or skating party.
- Set up a home gym. Use household items, such as canned foods, as weights. Stairs can substitute for stair machines.
- Move it! Instead of sitting through TV commercials, get up and move. When you talk on the phone, lift weights or walk around. Remember to limit TV watching and computer time.
- Give activity gifts. Give gifts that encourage physical activity - active games or sporting equipment.
- Vitamins for Strong Bone, Teeth, and Muscles:
Proper nutrition is important for growing boys and girls. Nutrition comes from vitamins and minerals, which can be found in the foods we eat and the drinks we consume. As you grow, your body needs specific amounts of vitamins at certain ages. While this all might sound very confusing, it is important to understand! With the right balance of vitamins, you will grow taller, stronger, and healthier overall. More about Vitamins.
Online Health and Nutrition Games:
Nourish Interactive is your free one-stop resource for fun nutrition games for kids, interactive nutrition tools and tips for parents and health educators to use to promote healthy living for the whole family. Created by nutrition and health care professionals, Nourish Interactive's nutrition education website gives children and families the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy choices.
BlastOff! Fuel up your MyPlate spaceship with smart food choices and 60 minutes of physical activity to fly to Planet Power! Play BlastOff.
Here is an easy to understand list of terms used in nutrition and food service
Web sites for more information: