In the past five years, schools have made great strides towards healthier lunches for their students. The former president, Barack Obama passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) in 2010. This act requires foods served as part of the National School Lunch Program to contain more whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
New studies add to a growing and substantial amount of evidence showing that school meal changes from the HHFKA have resulted in significant and effective changes in not only the food environment but also in student behavior and health outcomes.
HHFKA updated and strengthened nutritional standards for meals and snacks sold at schools. Congress then supplied them with funding for these improvements. To receive federal reimbursements, school meal programs must offer meals that meet strict federal nutrition standards.
Virginia Scott, the Director of Nutritional Services in the College Community School District states, “the changes were made to introduce healthier eating habits to students and to improve the nutritional value of the meals being served, also to educate and encourage students to make choices that will help to improve their overall health through diet and exercise.”
The HHFKA promotes and ensures that all schools must: offer fruits and vegetables each day, increase whole-grain food options, offer only fat-free or low-fat milk options, serve proper food portions that meet students’ calorie and reduce saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.
Scott tells that schools also must, “only offer juice once per week, foods may not contain trans fat, implementing calorie ranges for breakfast and lunch, limiting dessert items and lower sugar content.”
This is why portion control, forced fruit and vegetable intake, and a reducement of unhealthy foods have been encouraged in lunchrooms lately. This act was the first step in the right direction for decades.
Many believe that a healthier school lunch program strictly benefits the physical health of the students, however, it also improves the academic performance in the classroom. Melinda D. Anderson from The Atlantic tells, “students at schools that contract with a healthier school-lunch vendor perform somewhat better on state tests.”
Scott says, “studies have shown that eating breakfast does play a role in the academic performance of a student in the classroom. I assume students who consume school lunch would benefit from similar successes.”
Studies also showed a 4-percentile improvement in test scores above those achieved in schools with less healthy meals. According to the team at Berkeley, “nutrition can affect learning through three channels: physical development, cognition, memory, and behavior.”
Sean Patrick Corcoran, an associate professor of economics and education policy at New York University Steinhardt states, “students who eat regular, healthy meals are less likely to be tired, are more attentive in class, and retain more information.”
Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, and promote your overall health.
According to, Union of Concerned Scientists, “thirty percent of our nation’s children are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for a lifetime of health and other problems, such as poor academic performance, lower wages, and reduced self-esteem. Preventing childhood obesity can protect the health and well-being of America’s children.”
Eating a healthy school lunch helps children and teenagers to maintain healthy weights and prevent physical and mental health conditions.
According to Choose My Plate, “eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers. Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.”
Through eating the right food and keeping fit, the body will be strong and help to cope with stress and also fight illness. Eating healthy school meals and exercising often when you’re a teenager will also help you stay in good health later in life.
To continue good physical and mental health, push for a healthier school lunch each day. Eat fruits and vegetables, cut down on saturated fats and sugars and receive less salt. Resources for learning how to eat healthier include websites, apps and simply speaking with the cooks at Prairie.
Changes in the future include manufacturers releasing new products with clean labels and higher quality ingredients as well as removing artificial colors and flavors from their foods. The Healthy-Hunger-Free Kids act will continue to play a big role in the lives of students.
Good nutrition through school lunch is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, you will benefit your physical and mental health. Healthy school lunch has the power to increase your test scores and grades while keeping your body strong.