Since its inception in 1946, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) has met the needs of students' health and well-being by providing nutritionally balanced, low-cost and free lunches every school day. For too many students, school lunch is their only hot meal of the day. Despite extensive efforts to boost consumption of healthy school meals, lunch participation continues to decline. According to USDA's school lunch participation statistics, as many as 2 million fewer students have chosen lunch each day since 2012. This is a notable and unfortunate loss, resulting in fewer students eating lunch and getting the nutrition they need to support obesity prevention and their physical, intellectual and emotional health.
While breakfast participation continues to increase, recent data reveal a slowing of participation in school breakfast. School meals are a key factor in student attendance and success at school. The Foundation seeks to accomplish the goal through four areas of emphasis:
Supporting School Nutrition Program Sustainability
We want help grow and strengthen school nutrition programs by developing planning tools (to expand program offerings), providing leadership development (to help operators develop skills to be leaders among community stakeholders), and expanding scholarship programs.
Conducting and Disseminating Relevant Research
In order to increase participation, we need to understand the barriers related to participation. Despite significant efforts among the school nutrition professionals and industry partners to improve the quality of school meals, negative perceptions remain. We want to understand the objections of parents and other community stakeholders and use this awareness to create solutions for school nutrition professionals.
School nutrition professionals are employing amazing, innovative tactics that are designed to encourage more students to eat healthy meals – not just at school, but to embrace new foods and flavors in their everyday lives! SNF seeks to foster innovation by identifying and sharing these initiatives with the school nutrition community and with the general public.
Improving Nutrition Literacy
Students, parents, and consumers are bombarded with information on what constitutes healthy eating and nutrition. School meal operations and school nutrition professionals have a significant role to play in conveying information about healthful, nutritious meals and general wellness. SNF seeks to create a connection between school, home, and community through innovative programs that introduce school cuisine to new audiences.