Healthy School Meals

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Notes from the Backpack Podcast


According to the School Nutrition Association, almost 100,000 schools or institutions serve school lunches to 29.8 million students each day. Federal child nutrition programs, operated by the United States Department of Agriculture, include the School Breakfast Program, the National School Lunch Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the Summer Food Service Program. These programs provide nutritious meals to students throughout the year. School breakfast and lunch provides 50% of students daily nutrient needs. Yet many students still are not taking advantage of these meals or participating in these programs.

PTAs can be involved in supporting healthy school meals, such as hosting a Family Tasting Night. PTAs should also know about regulations that impact things like school stores or fundraisers which may be hosted by PTAs. See below for related information and resources covering important healthy school meal topics.

What PTAs Can Do

  • Support the School Nutrition Services & Food Services Team: Find out if your School Nutrition Services Team needs are being met so they are not hindered in their efforts to prepare and serve nutritious and appetizing meals.

  • Improve the Cafeteria: The school cafeteria is a place where children receive nourishing foods and beverages and interact with friends while consuming meals. The school cafeteria environment should be positive for students, encouraging healthy eating behaviors.

  • Focus on Meal and Menu Quality: Healthier, tastier meals and menu items will improve students’ enjoyment of mealtime.

  • Improve Perceptions of School Meals: When families and student have a good perception of school meals, their participation and support will increase.


Learn More

  • School Meals Leader's Guide: Developed by National PTA to help local PTAs partner with their school leaders, school nutrition team, families and students to support schools in serving healthy school meals.

  • Smart Snacks and Child Nutrition: Ensure your PTA is familiar with the Smart Snacks guidelines.

  • USDA Community Eligibility Provision Resource Center: Provides extensive resources for parents, teachers, and school officials at the local, state, and Federal level to better understand CEP and its positive benefits, along with useful tools to help facilitate successful implementation of the provision in your school.

Please note: If there is information or resources missing from this page that you would find helpful, please let us know by emailing programs@pta.org.