We’re celebrating National School Lunch Week (October 15-19), and are excited about the opportunity to reflect upon the days when many of us couldn’t wait to enter the cafeteria and see what was on the menu! I’m sure it’s a fun memory for us all!
The #NSLW18 theme is “School Lunch: Lots 2 Love,” to encourage students and school nutrition professionals to share what they love most about school lunch. We agree, there’s lots to love about the healthy options our Missouri schools are offering and the progress we’ve made in communities and schools with our Healthy Schools Healthy Communities initiative!
This annual, week-long ode to the school mid-day meal and social time was created when President Kennedy issued the proclamation in 1962. It is designed to promote the importance of a healthy school lunch and its impact on a child’s well-being inside and outside of the classroom. Since it was signed into law in 1946, the National School Lunch Program remains the largest of the federal child nutrition programs serving 30 million students every school day. That’s a whopping five billion meals every school year!
#NSLW18 happens to be during the same week that my team will converge in Jefferson City with rural and urban schools and community partners from across the state for our annual HSHC convening. The theme for this year’s convening is Rooting for Change and captures the fact that we’re both cheering our partners on and we’re deep in the trenches with them as this work continues to develop and expand.
Last month, 19 schools in Missouri were recognized as America’s Healthiest Schools by Alliance for a Healthier Generation – and each Missouri school honored is an HSHC participant! This distinction demonstrates the power of schools and communities working together toward a healthier tomorrow for Missouri’s kids. Our HSHC partners join over 400 “healthiest schools” nationwide and were named for successfully meeting a rigorous set of criteria that included serving healthier meals and snacks, getting students moving more, offering high-quality health and physical education, and empowering school leaders to be healthy role models. And while we certainly can’t take all the credit for the great work and transformation taking place in our schools, it’s inspiring for everyone involved to see how the positive changes are affecting our children.
Five years into the HSHC initiative, nearly 30,000 children across 32 Missouri school districts are being encouraged and enabled to eat better and be more active, setting them on a path toward improved health. If we encourage children to eat healthier and exercise more, while also modeling healthy behaviors ourselves, we’re not just improving their health right now, we’re setting them on a path toward healthy living for the rest of their lives. This is a notable achievement for our schools and highlights the progress being made in Missouri! Please join me this week in raising an apple to celebrate our state’s healthiest schools during National School Lunch Week.