Lunch time at Ponderosa Middle School Thursday
This week of October 10-14 was National School Lunch Week. Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon School Boards Association teamed up to raise awareness regarding importance of child nutrition programs in schools throughout the state.
According to researched presented by ODE and OSBA, students who are nourished properly at school perform better academically and behave better in the classroom.
School board members were encouraged to eat with students this past week to see the healthy and appetizing options and experience the social benefits of public school lunches.
The National School Lunch Program, started in 1946, delivers funding for nearly 100,000 schools and institutions to serve lunches nationwide to almost 30 million students a day, including more than 20 million free lunches.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses schools for each meal served based on family incomes as well as provides healthy and nutritious foods via the USDA Foods program.
In Oregon, 49% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, and in 2018-19 more than 45 million school lunches were delivered to Oregon students. The state Legislature has endorsed the value of school meals, including approximately $52 million in the Student Success Act this biennium for expanded school nutrition programs.
A 2017 state law also removed the stigma about being able to afford a healthy meal by requiring that Oregon schools provide a meal to any student who asks; schools cannot ask for payment.