A healthy diet and good nutrition are fundamental to healthy living. Schools are in a unique position to promote healthy eating for both students and school employees, and to provide support systems for families who may be struggling with hunger, basic nutrition, or access to food.
Good nutrition at school and throughout the school day is critical to a student’s health and ability to learn. School breakfast and lunch programs may account for more than half of a child’s daily calorie intake. So it’s vital that nutrition policies and provisions support students in developing and sustaining healthy eating habits.
Additionally, encouraging healthy choices for school employees supports them in their overall health.
Benefits of Healthy Eating
Improved nutrition in schools can lead to these benefits for students and employees.
- Increased focus and attention
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Healthier immune system
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Improved performance
Schools have both the opportunity and responsibility to ensure that their cafeterias, vending machines, snack bars, staff break rooms, and school events offer only nutritious foods and beverages — that is, foods high in nutrients but low in calories, fat, sugar, and salt. You can encourage healthy choices, for school employees as well as students, by implementing strategies in your school community that make healthier food options the norm.
Schools are increasingly becoming a hub for resources to address hunger and support food security. Leveraging schools to improve access to food is a critical way to improve the health and well-being of children and people who support them.
Supporting Student Success through School Health Policy
May 6, 2020 , 11 – 11:30 a.m. PT
Hosted by: Healthy Schools Campaign
States and school districts across the country are leveraging school health policies to support children’s health and learning during COVID-19. This includes making policy changes to support access to healthy meals, deliver telehealth services and implement programs to support the mental health of students and staff. Successful implementation of state and district policies is a key strategy to ensuring schools have access to the resources and guidance needed to support efforts to implement school health and wellness programs, ensure buy-in from key decision-makers and access funding for school health and wellness programs.
Students and Staff Partner for Healthy Hydration
El Cerrito High School is committed to engaging stakeholders at all levels in designing and implementing wellness initiatives for students and staff. When student leaders raised concerns about access to clean, fresh drinking water, the school health center staff and student leaders partnered to get new water stations installed at their school.
Making Healthy, Clean Drinking Water the Norm
Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Pittsburg, CA wanted to encourage their students to drink more water instead of unhealthy sugar-sweetened beverages. Yet, teachers realized that traditional water fountains offered only part of the answer. They also wanted to align water access with the school’s commitment to the environment. Their solution? Installing water bottle refilling stations.
Innovative Smoothie Program Boosts Breakfast Participation
Wells Middle School in Riverside, CA has been motivated by the abundance of research linking healthy nutritious school meals, particularly breakfast meals, with student academic achievement. In an effort to increase participation in breakfast meal programs and support students and staff in getting plenty of healthy fruits, the school implemented a breakfast smoothie program that was the perfect blend for success.
CDC Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC)
Learn about the the CDC’s framework for addressing health in schools, the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model (WSCC). This resource includes strategies to integrate school health services, nutrition, physical education/activity, and out-of-school time across the WSCC framework.
Cafeteria Classroom Creates Space and Tools to Foster Healthy Habits
Capital City Public Charter School system’s middle school in Washington, DC took their interest in fostering healthier eating habits to a whole new level. Recognizing the value of hands-on educational opportunities for building life-long healthy habits, the school created its Culinary Center. A designated classroom space in the cafeteria, the Culinary Center enables students and staff to learn to prepare healthy meals, gaining experience through cooking demonstrations and lessons that are bound to make them top chefs.
Building Strong Family-School Partnerships to Improve Student Health
May 12, 2021 , 12:00 p.m. PT
Hosted by: Kaiser Permanente and Action for Healthy Kids
Dive into what makes an effective family-school partnership and why, especially now, there is a critical need for school staff, parents, and caregivers to collaborate in support of student wellness — including nutrition, physical activity, and social-emotional health. You will learn how to use your voice to advocate for continued collaboration between families and schools to ensure that holistic student health is factored into all returning to in-person learning plans. Attendees will get access to a collaboration guide developed by Action for Healthy Kids and Denver Public Schools with real-world examples and recommendations to support that work.