Did you know that October is National School Lunch Month? It’s our favorite time of the year! We see it as a time for thoughtful examination of a system that has not always been perfect, but nonetheless remains an important part of every child’s day. Because the meal a child eats in school accounts for almost half of his daily food intake, we hope you will celebrate National School Lunch Month with us as we continue our relentless efforts to provide children everywhere with the healthiest food possible.
You may want to ask your school if there are any special activities planned this month to celebrate the focus on nutritious eating at school.
Since 1946, when President Truman signed the School Lunch Act, the purpose of the school meal has been to provide, “a measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation’s children and to encourage the domestic consumption of nutritious agricultural commodities.” Sadly, today, it seems not much is being done to safeguard children’s health in many of our schools. In fact, schools are flooded with processed foods and a lack of fresh choices for students. Concession stands now have a strong presence in an alarming number of cafeterias across the country, putting fundraiser money and selling junk food above student health. Many private schools lack lunch programs altogether, adopting to brown bag it or order takeout from local fast food chains. When in our country’s history did it become okay to serve kids fast food for lunch every day?
As influential figures like First Lady Michelle Obama and Chefs Jamie Oliver and Ann Copper begin to spread their messages, advocating healthy eating habits for children, we are starting to see a national growing interest in the importance of the school meal. Like these influential leaders, we are also at the forefront of the movement to educate our future generation about the joys and importance of a healthy meal and by all accounts, the message is being heard loud and clear. Heck, we even have a whole month dedicated to the cause….Happy National School Lunch Month everybody!
In celebration of National School Lunch Month this October, here is a brief timeline of school lunch in the United States.
- 1853: The Children’s Aid Society of New York initiates a lunch program that serves vocational school students
- 1904: Poverty, by Robert Hunter is published. The book influences the creation of many lunch programs across the US aimed to feed the needy children in schools.
- 1908: The Women’s Educational and Industrial Union in Boston, Ma. begins serving hot lunches in high schools. Food was cooked in a central kitchen and transported to participating schools. The program expanded into the elementary schools during the next two years.
- 1946: Congress introduces legislation to create a permanent lunch program. Prior to this, lunch programs operated on a year-by-year basis and food served revolved on agricultural surpluses. Lunches must now meet a minimal nutritional requirements.
- 1966: The Child Nutrition Act was introduced. With more than a century of school lunch experience, this piece of legislation aimed to provide stricter nutritional guidelines.
Present day: Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act is passed with the goal of improving school lunches across the nation. Junk food is eliminated, while whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, and low fat dairy products are increased.