Good nutrition is fundamental to healthy living. You can help encourage healthy choices by implementing strategies in your school community to improve nutrition among students, staff and teachers. For example, offering healthier food options such as fruit and non-sugar sweetened beverages at your school’s snack bar, at school events and classroom parties, can make choosing healthy snacks over sugary ones a no-brainer!
Why we care (and why you should, too)
Schools have a significant role in providing students with good nutrition, helping to teach lifelong patterns of healthful behaviors. Many children consume at least half of their meals at school, and with more than 32 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program, good nutrition at school is more important than ever. Good nutrition is associated with:
- Increased focus and attention, improved test scores, better classroom behavior, and a better understanding of healthy eating behaviors
- Improved cognitive function (especially memory) and improved mood
Promote healthy eating at your school
Improve the consumption of nutritious foods at your school by starting with a few of these ideas:
Ensure healthy food at school
- Create a healthy snack list and distribute to parents and school staff. Keeping kids fed throughout the day is essential; ensuring that these snack are healthy will help improve energy and focus throughout the day.
- Provide a quality school meal program and ensure your school meals are consistent with the new USDA nutrition standards. See Smarter Lunchroom ideas on how to encourage students to choose the healthiest choices.
- Evaluate your schools breakfast program. Breakfast is a critical meal for children to start the day in a healthful way. Consider allowing students to eat breakfast in the first 10 – 15 minutes of class time, or consider creating a Breakfast in the Classroom program that provides nutritious breakfast for all students.
Celebrate in a healthy way
- Offer only healthy food and beverages at school celebrations and holiday parties. For example, serve festive healthy treats like green and red fruit kabobs for a holiday party to celebrate in a healthy way.
- Instead of celebrating birthdays with sugar and junk food, let students choose from a menu of healthy options, such as having lunch with the teacher or having a class dance party.
- Eliminate candy and junk food as a reward in the classroom and allow for five minutes of extra recess or play time instead.
Reinforce healthy eating at school events
- Assess your school’s sporting event snack bar and ensure healthy options are offered like fruit and non-sugar sweetened beverages. Consider creating a district or school-wide policy on concession stand food guidelines to support healthy eating for students, staff and families attending events.
- Instead of school fundraisers that sell unhealthy foods undermining student health, try out other fundraising alternatives like hosting a walk-a-thon or supporting programs such as grocery store Scrip of gift-card sales, book fairs, and more.
See how Oakland Unified School District in California partnered with local organizations to provide locally grown, fresh fruits and vegetables for their school meal programs.
Learn how the Grimmway Academy in Bakersfield, CA incorporated an integrated approach to edible education by having students get hands-on lessons on growing vegetables that are used to prepare their tasty school lunches.