Why School Lunch?
While the school lunch program was started in 1946 to address childhood hunger - it has expanded to become a nutrition program that addresses and educates children on both over nutrition and under nutrition.
Childhood poverty is more widespread in the U.S. than in any other industialized county and childhood hunger is still present in the U.S. In fact, twelve million children live in food insecure households in America. The school lunch program is often the first line of defense against childhood hunger and provides the only complete meal many children get each day.
In response to the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, Congress has required local school districts, participating in the NSLP, to develop a Local School Wellness Policy (LSWP). This mandate, a key feature in the 2004 Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, compels school districts to make child health a priority in the areas of food, nutrition education and physical activity.
According to the law, a district's LSWP must, at a minimum: Include goals for nutrition education and physical education;Include nutritional guidelines for all foods available on campus during the school day including school meals, ala carte cafeteria sales, vending machines, school stores, concession stands, fundraising activities and classroom parties; Involve parents, students, and all stakeholders including the school foodservice department in the development of the LSWP; Establish a plan for measuring implementation of the LSWP.
Of the 97% of school districts that addressed nutrition standards for the NSLP meals in their wellness policies, more than 92% state that they have completed implemenation. Similarly, of the 96% of districts that set standards for ala carte foods and beverages sold through the school nutrition programs, 72% report that they have completed implementation of the standards.