Despite improvements in the nutrition standards and school meals, many families and students are still confused about the important nutritional improvements in the school meals and the quantity of food that students are getting at each meal. Increasing parent and student perceptions and knowledge of the school meals program can help increase participation and support.
Assessing the student and family perceptions will aid in identifying menu items that are poorly received by students and what they would like to have added, concerns families have about the quality or quantity, families knowledge of the updated guidelines, and barriers to participation.
How to Assess: National PTA’s Student and Parent Perceptions Survey can be sent home with students, made into an online survey, or distributed at Back to School night.
Consider These Strategies:
- Improve family and student perceptions of school meals by informing them of the school meals updates, hosting fun and interactive school meals activities, and getting them involved in your efforts.
- Host a School Meals Night that allows the food service team to present what the school meal program is, the updated nutrition standards, and changes and updates in the cafeteria. This will allow families to better understand the school meals program and give the food service team an opportunity to explain their efforts.
- Create a monthly newsletter that highlights activities in the cafeteria, new meals that are being trialed that month, nutrition tips promoted in the cafeteria, and additional information the food service team wants to relay to families.
- Invite families to eat the school lunch with their kids so they can better understand the quality of the meals served and participate in the school meals conversation.
- Create a system that allows families and students to provide feedback. Try a biannual community forum, online system, or a drop box in the front office.
Involve students in the school meals activities and discussions to promote a sense of student responsibility.