Welcome to MacGill School Nurse Supplies!


Fueling the Future

Pencils?  Check.  Notebooks?  Check.  Food?  Wait…food?  Back-to-school lists and new school year prep often include ensuring kids have basic school supplies like writing instruments, backpacks, paper, books, and other essential items, but one of the most fundamental needs, a nutritious lunch, can frequently be overlooked.  Research suggests that healthy, well-balanced school lunch is associated with fewer absences, increased test scores, future healthy eating habits, and an overall greater capacity to learn.

Kids eat between 35%-40% of their daily calories in school, with the majority coming from lunch meals.  This means that school lunch is an opportunity to provide balanced, healthy nourishment that can positively impact the physical, behavioral, and cognitive health of millions of children.  Additionally, the newer nutritional standards and more accessible and affordable school lunch programs allow for increased school lunch participation amongst students, reduce food insecurity, improve overall health and lower childhood obesity rates, and improve nutritional intake in a way that leads to a supportive school environment in which kids can thrive.

More than 5.5 billion lunches are served annually through school lunch programs and 60% of children enrolled in PK-12 schools in the United States participate in the National School Lunch Program or NSLP.  Started in 1946, under the National School Lunch Act, the NSLP aimed to “safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation’s children and to encourage the domestic consumption of nutritious agricultural commodities and other foods.”  Since its inception, participation in the program has grown from 7.1 million to 31.5 million students each day.  Over the same timeframe, diet-related illness has steadily grown and the number of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled.   In 2012-13, the nutritional standards for NSLP were modified to require the inclusion of more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.  As a result, recent data indicates that children participating in school meals are less likely to have nutrient deficiencies and experience more balanced food consumption and adequate food selection.  Research also reveals that packed lunches from home often contain more calories, fat, saturated fat, and sugar than school lunches, and less protein, fiber, vitamin A, and calcium.

Ultimately, school lunch programs that meet the dietary and nutritional standards set by NSLP, result in a reduction in childhood obesity rates and an increase in student health and well-being.  School nurses interested in promoting healthy eating and providing even more accessibility to fruits and vegetables are in optimal positions to collaborate with farm-to-school programs, for which there are grants available to qualifying school districts for training, equipment, planning, developing partnerships, construction of school gardens, and implementation of the overall program.  Removing unhealthy competitive foods in the school environment, including snacks from vending machines, foods used as rewards, etc., and replacing them with more nutritious alternatives, can also lead to healthier students and healthy, lifelong eating habits.  Lastly, school nurses should advocate for students with food allergies, dietary restrictions, or necessary nutrition supplementation, to ensure school food programs are inclusive and that every student is getting the fuel they need for a healthy school day and a robust future.

Teach kids how to build a lunch that will give them energy, help them focus, and keep them strong, with MacGill’s Terrific Tray Bulletin Board Kit.  Shop more nutrition education materials at MacGill.com.

Post your comment