Improve Student Nutrition
Students who eat a healthy diet perform better at school. These programs and guidelines play a critical role in ensuring that every child has access to nutritious food.
What PTAs Can Do
- Find out if your school participates in the Federal School Meals programs. If not, work with your school and district administration to encourage participation.
- Volunteer during meal times, eat lunch with your children or review school menus to find out what school meals are like. If you see something that doesn't fit with the new guidelines, share the USDA's info with school leaders.
- Meet with food service staff to learn about their daily challenges in preparing healthy meals for students. Ask for their suggestions for improvements.
- Check out the cafeteria: Is it a nice place to eat? Do visuals promote healthy eating? If not, ask the principal's permission to paint a colorful mural or post student artwork featuring healthy foods.
- Investigate how students feel about when they eat lunch, how much time they have to eat, how the food tastes and what they would like to see changed. Organize a taste test or student cooking competition for new, healthier recipes and foods.
- Find out how nutrition is covered in the school's health curriculum. Are they getting the latest nutrition info or does it need to be updated?
- Learn what other foods compete with the nutritious foods available through the school meals program. How many vending machines are in the school and what are the food options? What foods are for sale in your school store?
- Request a meeting with the principal to discuss possible improvements to your school's nutrition environment.
- Smart Snacks and Child Nutrition: Helps PTAs be a successful partner in the transition to Smart Snacks, including alternatives when fundraising is necessary.
- National PTA 2014 Public Policy Agenda: Supports continued implementation of the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, including healthy guidelines for all foods sold in schools, strengthening Local Wellness Policies and improving nutrition standards for meals served as part of the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs.
- Healthier School Day (USDA): Resources to help schools meet the new nutrition guidelines.
- Team Nutrition (USDA): Supports the Child Nutrition Programs through training and technical assistance for foodservice, nutrition education for children and their caregivers, and school and community support for healthy eating and physical activity.
- The School Day Just Got Healthier (Center for Science in the Public Interest): Resources to support healthier school meals.
- Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools: An initiative to increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption by donating salad bars to schools across the United States.
- National Farm to School Network: Portal for communities working to bring local food sourcing and food and agriculture education into school systems and preschools.
- BagtheJunk.org (NEA Health Information Network): An online resource to educate, mobilize and empower communities to replace junk foods and sugary drinks sold in schools with healthier options.