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VC Schools Participating in National School Lunch Week

October 17, 2012

Special to the Times-Record Braxton and John Jorissen enjoy school lunch together at Jefferson Elementary School during National School Lunch Week.

Special to the Times-Record

Valley City Public Schools are participating in National School Lunch Week that began Oct. 8 and runs through Friday.

More than 28 million children are served lunch every school day, in more than 99,000 schools. “Here at Valley City Public Schools we serve about 900 kids at lunch each day. For some, this lunch is their most important meal of the day,” said Sue Milender, nutrition services director.

The National School Lunch Program was established in 1946 after the government had to reject many WWII recruits due to malnourishment. The program was established under the National School Lunch Act, signed by President Harry Truman. It is the largest of the federal child nutrition programs in terms of spending and the number of children served.

School districts and independent schools that choose to take part in the NSLP get donated commodities from the U.S. Dept of Agriculture for each meal they serve. In return, they must serve lunches that meet federal nutrition requirements, and they must offer free or reduced-price lunches to eligible children.

Commodities are often low in fat and can include fruits, vegetables, grains, meats and dairy products. Nutrition requirements include following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which specify certain calorie ranges for three distinct age groups, less than 10 percent of calories come from saturated fat, and all foods must be trans fat free. In addition, meals must provide vegetables with a variety of color, a fruit with each meal, whole grain-rich foods, and offer low fat milk.
Studies have shown that, through the NSLP, children consume twice the servings of fruits and vegetables and greater amounts of whole grains and low-fat dairy than children who eat lunch brought from home or who leave school to eat lunch.

Any child at a participating school may purchase a meal through the National School Lunch Program. Children from families with incomes at or below 185% of the poverty level are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

These weeks were established in 1963 by a proclamation from President John F. Kennedy. It is designed to help raise awareness of and garner support for the role that school foodservice and nutrition programs play in the lives of America’s children today and in the strength of America tomorrow. “Parents and staff are invited to join in this exciting celebration,” Milender said.

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