Mom. Registered Dietitian. Proud Supporter of School Meals.

Erin Wholey, RD, LDN| View Author Bio
Why My Kids Participate in School Meals

As a registered dietitian, I’ve always understood the importance of school meals, and I’m proud to work on behalf of New England dairy farmers to support school meals. As a mom, I have a whole new appreciation for school meals and the school nutrition heroes who serve them. Knowing my two kids can have a nutrient-rich breakfast and lunch at school that includes fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein, and whole grains gives me peace of mind. I appreciate the variety of options available, the new foods they are exposed to, and the fact that I don’t have to pack lunches every morning. Let’s be honest, mornings are crazy, and I appreciate that school meals take one thing off my plate.

Why School Meals are so Important

School meals are nutritious and must meet specific nutrition requirements. Research shows that students who participate in the school meals consume more whole grains, milk, fruits, and vegetables during mealtimes and have better overall diet quality than nonparticipants. In addition, eating breakfast at school is associated with improved attendance, behavior, and academic performance as well as decreased tardiness.

While school meals can nourish all children, they are critical for those experiencing food insecurity. According to Feeding America, one in eight kids are at risk for hunger. For students experiencing food insecurity, half of their calories may come from school meals. When more students participate in school meals, it helps to decrease the stigma that can be associated with school meals, meaning the students who need the meals most aren’t embarrassed to eat them. Higher participation also means more funding that can be used to expand menu options and improve the quality of the meals being served. This may allow for more fresh fruits and vegetables, more scratch cooking, and more culturally relevant menu items.

How You Can Support School Meals

As a new school year starts, talk to your kids about eating school lunch and school breakfast. It’s a choice that will benefit your children, along with others in the community; and I promise it will make your life easier. You can also help spread the word on social media about the value of participating in school meals with our Value of School Meals Toolkit or by sharing positive stories about your local school meal program. We thank you in advance for joining New England Dairy and the dairy farm families of New England as we #SupportSchoolMeals.

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