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Publication #FAR8027

Healthy School Lunches1

Megan McIntyre and R. Elaine Turner2

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As the obesity epidemic in America continues to grow, more of today's youth are struggling with being overweight than ever before. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of overweight children has more than quadrupled since 1970, and 15% of today's children and adolescents are overweight (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2006).

Schools are a key setting for healthy nutrition and physical activity strategies and are working with the Department of Agriculture to promote physical activity and nutrition education. Through the USDA's Healthier U.S. School Challenge, schools are recognized for the changes they've made in improving their school nutrition environment, improving the quality of food served, and providing students with healthier, more nutritious choices.

Parents can also play an active role in ensuring that their child is eating healthy school meals. Parents are encouraged to eat breakfast or lunch at school to see firsthand what the meals are like. Visit the school cafeteria to get to know the staff and consider volunteering to organize a tasting party to introduce new and nutritious foods to kids. Work with the school PTA to make sure parents' opinions about healthy food choices are heard. Make sure that your children and teens appreciate how healthy meals influence their minds as well as their bodies.

School administrators, students, and parents can work together to provide meals that promote healthful food choices in our schools.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2006, August 26) Defining overweight and obesity. Retrieved May 7, 2007, from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2007, January 30) Prevalence of overweight among children and adolescents: United States, 2003-2004. Retrieved May 7, 2007, from

United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service. (n.d.). Team Nutrition. Retrieved May 7, 2007, from



This document is FAR8027, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 177 and published February 2008. Revised May 2008. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Megan McIntyre, undergraduate student, and R. Elaine Turner, associate dean, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.