Schools feed tens of millions of children every day, and many of those students consume more than half of their daily calories while at school. Unfortunately, the foods and beverages sold in school are generally of poor nutritional quality.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, signed into law in December 2010, requires that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue new nutritional standards for school meals and for competitive foods and beverages sold through vending machines and elsewhere.
The new law also authorizes an increase in federal funding by 6 cents per lunch for schools that meet USDA's updated nutritional standards, the largest reimbursement increase above inflation in more than 30 years. And it adds $50 million for training and technical assistance to help school food service workers prepare nutritious meals.
Nutrition advocates believe that the law must be rigorously enforced to help children get the nutrients they need to grow, learn and succeed.
This Health Policy Snapshot, published online in July 2011, explains the current inadequacies in school nutrition and outlines how the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act aims to improve the quality of school food.
Read more of RWJF's Health Policy Snapshot series.