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If not, now is the time! National School Lunch Week is October 15th-19th and there’s “Lots to Love” in every meal.

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This yearly celebration reminds us of the benefits of the National School Lunch Program, the 30 million students it serves, and the valuable staff who put their hearts into nourishing the next generation. (Shout out to Aunt Pam, my favorite “lunch lady” and school lunch hero.)

So, have you tried school lunch lately? It’s more than the fish sticks and tater tots of yesteryear. Schools are hiring chefs and including more ethnic influenced dishes. They’re offering restaurant inspired menus to provide flavors students today are looking for, while still providing the essential vitamins and minerals kids need to grow healthy and strong. Many kid favorites have been given a makeover as well, bumping up the nutritional value like pizza made with lower sodium sauce or mac and cheese made with wheat pasta. Even chocolate milk is lower in sugar than before!

Experts agree that healthy students are better students.  Learning begins with well-balanced meals including lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy.

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School lunches benefit students by:

  • Insuring the best nutrition – providing 1/3 of a child’s daily nutrition needs
  • Modeling healthy food choices – encouraging good habits for a lifetime of wellness
  • Reducing food insecurity – offering an affordable meal option for families

Additionally, school meal services often include education on where foods come from and encourage tasting new foods a student may not have tried at home. All that and a bag of chips!

This week, celebrate school lunch with your child and go have lunch with them. I’m sure they’ll be excited to share their favorites with you. Oh, and say “hi” to Aunt Pam if you see her.