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Feeding America’s Children, Promoting Healthy Eating Habits

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE         
Contact: Erik Peterson
703-739-3900 ext 124

epeterson@schoolnutrition.org 

Feeding America’s Children, Promoting Healthy Eating Habits
Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week is May 1 – 5, 2006
 

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (April 27, 2006) – Teaching nutrition, preparing healthy school meals and offering a friendly greeting are all in a day’s work for over 200,000 child nutrition employees serving in 99,000 school cafeterias and kitchens. May 1 – 5, 2006, the School Nutrition Association celebrates this commitment in observance of Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week. The week is an opportunity for parents, students, school communities, and all of us to thank those who provide healthy school meals to 30 million children each school day.

Child nutrition employees follow numerous federal, state and local guidelines to ensure safe and healthy meals are available in schools. They use their creativity to make the cafeteria a fun and welcoming place on special occasions and all year long. In administering the National School Lunch Program at the local level, they are responsible for an income verification program second in its scope only to the IRS’s federal income tax program. Child nutrition professionals also provide nutrition-awareness to students, as well as healthy catering services to their communities. They are trained sanitation and food safety experts and run financially self-sufficient programs. Most of all, they perform their jobs each day because they care passionately about the children they serve.

The importance and nutritional value of school meals are well documented. For many children, school lunch will be the most important meal of their day. Children depend upon their school lunch for 1/3 to 1/2 of their daily nutritional intake. The U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, found that “school meals are healthy and children who eat school meals consume more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy items than children who do not eat school meals.” 

In a recent study, school nutrition professionals provided specific examples of the healthy lunch changes that were implemented this school year. Among the most popular responses were:

Implementing wellness plans that will, in turn, spark a significant number of healthy changes;

  • Offering a greater variety of choices for fruit, vegetables, whole grain foods and other nutritious offerings;
  • Revamping menus and implementing cuts in areas such as fat, sugar and calories;
  • Reducing portion sizes and the reliance on processed foods;
  • Eliminating or cutting back on the availability of certain foods (such as French fries and chips) from a la carte lines;
  • Implementing a “marketing push” to promote greater consumption of healthier fare, as well as lifestyle issues (i.e., exercise, nutrition education, etc.);
  • Eliminating items such as sodas and foods of limited nutritional value from school vending machines.
The School Nutrition Association is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals. Currently celebrating its sixtieth anniversary, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.

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