Nutrition Environment & Services
What is it?
The school nutrition environment provides students with opportunities to learn about and practice healthy eating through available foods and beverages, nutrition education, and messages about food in the cafeteria and throughout the school campus. Students may have access to foods and beverages in a variety of venues at school including the cafeteria, vending machines, grab ‘n’ go kiosks, schools stores, concession stands, classroom rewards, classroom parties, school celebrations, and fundraisers.
School nutrition services provide meals that meet federal nutrition standards for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, accommodate the health and nutrition needs of all students, and help ensure that foods and beverages sold outside of the school meal programs (i.e., competitive foods) meet Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards. School nutrition professionals should meet minimum education requirements and receive annual professional development and training to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills to provide these services. All individuals in the school community support a healthy school nutrition environment by marketing and promoting healthier foods and beverages, encouraging participation in the school meal programs, role-modeling healthy eating behaviors, and ensuring that students have access to free drinking water throughout the school day.
Healthy eating has been linked in studies to improved learning outcomes and helps ensure that students are able to reach their potential.
Ideas for Your PTA
- Work with your child nutrition program to host taste tests of new foods for the cafeteria or fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Hold a recipe or healthy lunchbox contest for students and families.
- Consider fundraisers that do not involve food or only include items that meet the smart snacks guidelines.
- Review your concessions menu and offer healthier alternatives.
- Advocate for adequate funding for school meals, alternative breakfast programs like breakfast in the classroom, and school gardens and food education.
- Assess nutritional value of foods provided by the PTA at all events including staff appreciation events and meetings.
- Provide nutrition education for families including healthy foods and nutrition.
- Provide opportunities to learn about foods from different cultures at a PTA events for families.
- Start a food pantry that has healthy options and ask for healthy choices during food drives.
- Have a healthy arts program: a poster or a mural design contest!
- Support healthier reward choices instead of candy and food-based celebrations.
- Just ASK! How you can improve nutrition in schools
- Healthy Rewards
- Food Drives
- Cafeteria Cards
- Eat2WinNC toolkit
- School Gardens AHA flyer
- Just ASK! School Gardens
- Just ASK! Health Events
- Eat Smart Move More Resources:
Do you have other ideas to share? Email us at [email protected]!