Skip to Content

National School Lunch Week

Middle school student buying fruit in cafeteriaCreated in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, National School Lunch Week celebrates the benefits of the National School Lunch Program (the largest federal child nutrition program).  This year, National School Lunch Week is October 12-16, and this year's theme is “School Lunch Snapshot.” It’s about sharing the best, real images of today’s school lunch. See the National Nutrition Association website.

Download these resources for free:

National School Lunch Program (NSLP)

The NSLP is a federally assisted meal program that provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. The program was established under the National School Lunch Act, signed by President Harry Truman in 1946. Learn more at the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.

National Farm to School Month

October 2011 is also the first National Farm to School Month, which connects schools and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers. See the Farm to School website for resources, lesson plans, and steps to get started.

Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

The provisions of the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, include $4.5 billion in new funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs, increased access to healthy food, and promoting overall student wellness. Read more at Child Nutrition.

School Resources

  • Healthy School Lunches
    This website offers a project plan that can help children develop healthful eating patterns and prevent diet-related illness and a publication called Vegetarian Options for School Lunch Programs (2008) (PDF, 12pp).
  • Healthy Steps for Healthy Lives
    This website provides K-3 educators with 31 lessons to teach fundamental nutrition and physical activity concepts. From Nestlé and NEA Health Information Network.
  • Getting Started - A Guide for Creating School Gardens as Outdoor Classrooms (2007) (PDF, 52pp)
    This guide offers ideas for creating a school garden (in any climate) to provide opportunities for students to explore science, nutrition, social studies, math, art, language arts, and more.
  • PBS's Lesson Plan Evaluating Information on Food Labels
    This site offers food-based lesson plans that use the film Food, Inc., a documentary that examines food in the United States and the industry and POV's website resources for it. You can borrow the film for free - when you join the Community Network.

Related NEA Articles

Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act

School Lunch

Other Articles, Fact Sheets, and Websites

  • Give Schools the Tools to Solve Cafeteria Challenges
    Across our nation, students are settling into back-to-school routines. Between their daily lessons in math, science and reading, there's another subject important to their academic success but often overlooked and not found on their report cards: nutrition. Yes, it's time to talk about lunch.
  • Give Schools the Tools to Prepare Healthy, Delicious Meals
     A fact sheet on the School Food Modernization Act from the Pew Charitable Trust
  • Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)
    FRAC is the leading national nonprofit organization working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the United States. Get the facts about the free or reduced-price meals at school.
  • Child Nutrition Fact Sheet
    What is the National School Lunch Program and why is it important?
  • Let's Move: Eat Healthy 
    Let’s Move! offers parents and caregivers the tools, support and information they need to make healthier choices while instilling healthy eating habits in children that will last a lifetime.
  • Project Graduation: Latest Snapshot of High-Poverty U.S. Schools
    Using as its poverty measure, the percentage of students who are eligible for the National School Lunch Program's free or reduced-price lunch, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that nearly one-fifth of all public schools in the United States educate students from high-poverty homes (The Condition of Education 2010).
  • School Meals: A Nutritional and Environmental Perspective (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010) (PDF, 8pp)
    This article excerpt analyzes current school meals in Baltimore and makes suggestions for school meal reform based on both childhood nutrition and environmental resource use. 


Average User Rating (0 users)

3 stars
of 5.

Your Rating

carla hall, author and co-host of "the chew" gives a shout-out to school food service workers for national school lunch week

Related Links

  • Nourish Interactive
    Free classroom and school resources to help teach the key elements of nutrition to children and parents.
  • Child Nutrition
    Information and developments about the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act.
  • School Breakfast
    Resources and top stories about access to breakfast and good nutrition in public schools.
  • NEA Education Support Professionals (ESPs)
    Information about classified school employees, including food service workers.
  • One Education Workforce - Serving the Whole Student (2004) (PDF)
    Brochure about Food Services ESPs, who ensure that students have access to safe and nutritious meals.
  • Getting Educated: Food Services Professionals
    More information about Food Services ESPs.