Students need healthy school meals that meet the required federal dietary guidelines. This is because healthy meals contribute significantly to the student’s health and wellbeing.
With various studies indicating that school meals can reduce obesity rates, food insecurity, and poor health, schools, communities, and other stakeholders must understand the school meal programs. This article explains some of the things you need to know about Federal school meal programs.
Benefits of school meals
There is a lot of evidence that indicates that students who are involved in the school meal programs consume a variety of essential foods. These foods include fruits, milk, and vegetables and they consume them during meal times. As a result, these students tend to have a good intake of some nutrients, like fiber and calcium.
The good news is that eating breakfast at school is strongly related to great school attendance, a few missed school days, and good test scores. Thankfully, these students eat meals that meet specific nutritional requirements, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and less amount of sodium and trans fat.
However, the success of the federal school meal programs largely depends on the schools encouraging their students to take part in the school meal programs.
So the schools can offer only the meals that are appealing and nutritious, get input from their students and parents about the most suitable foods they desire to be included in their meals, making sure that students have enough time to eat their meals, and many more.
How the federal school meal programs work
In case you might be asking yourself what exactly are the federal school meal programs? Well, these are federal meal programs that target public schools, nonprofit private schools as well as residential child care institutions. As explained earlier, the program focuses on providing nutritionally balanced and low-cost or free lunches to students each school day.
That said, keep in mind that various schools participate in this National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Therefore, the federal government refunds schools and school districts that allocate a certain amount of funds for the meals they serve. However, that amount depends on whether the meal was provided for free, at a reduced price, or a full price.
Here is the deal: for the schools to get the refund, they need to offer meals that not only meet the required nutritional standards but they should also provide these meals either for free or at a reduced price to children that qualify.
The good news is that schools can receive extra cash if they meet the federal meal standards. Hence, besides improving the health and learning of their students, the schools can also get a financial incentive. No wonder, most schools are encouraged to participate in the school lunch program.
Sadly, childhood hunger still affects some children in the United States. Consequently, most of these children usually underachieve in school and may experience poor health for years. This is the reason why the federal school meal program is designed to improve the health and learning of these students.