National School Lunch Week aims to get kids excited about healthy food choices
More than 32 million children eat school lunch across the USA every day, and Atlanta Public Schools will celebrate these healthy lunch choices from October 15-18 during National School Lunch Week. This year’s event theme is “Healthy International Meals,” so celebrity and volunteer chefs will visit schools to celebrate the flavors, ingredients and cultures of countries around the world and promote the benefits of eating a healthy school lunch.
The campaign will spotlight the changes Atlanta Public Schools (APS) has made to provide more healthy food options to its students: the district no longer serves fried foods in its cafeterias; meals are cooked with various international seasonings and other healthy and savory herbs; APS serves locally grown produce, such as apples, oranges, sweet potatoes, collard greens, and kale in its cafeterias; every school salad bar, known as the APS Salad Bowl, offers two fruit choices and two vegetable choices daily; and all APS cafeterias have water coolers with chilled water, which is provided to students at no cost.
Making these changes to the school lunch program has also helped the APS nutrition department educate students about making healthy food choices in the classroom; thirty-seven APS elementary schools have implemented the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which gives students an opportunity to taste and learn about local and international fruits and vegetables.
The federally funded National School Lunch Program provides nutritionally balanced and healthy meals to students everyday. The program, which has been serving the nation’s children for more than 60 years, requires school meals to meet federal nutrition standards by:
- ensuring students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day;
- substantially increasing offerings of whole-grain-rich foods;
- offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties;
- limiting calories based on the age of the children served; and
- reducing saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.
For more information about healthy school meals, visit www.atlantapublicschoolsnutrition.us.