School Lunch

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Every parent wants to know what to make for school lunch. It is frustrating to find out your child didn't eat a thing you made, even after they suggested what to put in it. It is also frustrating because it is just another thing to remember in a busy day of parenting. Of course many schools provide lunch either from vendors (Roundtable Pizza, etc) or from the USDA's National School Lunch program (NSLP). At the end of this article I will recommend some good lunch ideas.

In the meantime, now that I have your attention, I wanted to inform you about school policies that are supposed to improve school lunches among other things related to wellness.

Did you know that Congress passed a law requiring public schools participating in the NSLP or even just in the Special Milk Program to adopt a school wellness policy (WP) by 2006? Congress recognizes that schools play a critical role in promoting student health, preventing childhood obesity, and combating problems associated with poor nutrition and physical inactivity [1]. The objective of a WP is to set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, campus food provision, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness.

Physical activity and nutrition education are two areas in school that can get pushed aside with more and more emphasis on academics (i.e. standardized testing) and only so much time in a school day. Furthermore, the NSLP traditionally has not offered healthy lunch options (relying on commodities such as cheese [high in saturated fat]). Similarly, schools that do not participate in the NSLP may rely on vendors to provide lunch (e.g. McDonalds, Burger King, Togo's, etc).

Your district's WP should have language specifically addressing the nutrition content of school lunch and items sold a la carte. Even if your kids attend a private school, it is a good idea if they adopt some type of wellness guideline. Most WPs follow the suggested government recommendation such as the following: