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Why School Food Matters

Healthy school food is not only a solution for nutrition and health concerns, but social, academic, and environmental issues as well.

Why School Food Matters

Healthy school food is not only a solution for nutrition and health concerns, but social, academic, and environmental issues as well.

American kids start their life-path in K-12 schools where they learn the skills necessary to thrive and meet their potential. While the country debates the best ways to teach them math, science and English, we spend little to no time on food and nutrition.

As a result, school food has become increasingly more processed (heat-and-serve) and less healthy. With 31 million children eating school lunch every day and health issues like obesity continuing to affect our nation’s youth, this is a national issue that needs to be addressed.

That’s where scratch cooking in schools comes into play. Scratch cooking is real food with real ingredients. Healthy school food is not only a solution for nutrition and health concerns, but social, academic, and environmental issues as well. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of school food.

Nutrition and Health

Scratch cooking enables schools to choose the ingredients that go into students’ meals. Healthier ingredients lead to healthier students:

  • Swapping processed foods for real ingredients increases fiber intake. Fiber is considered part of a healthy diet because it keeps you full, keeps your gut healthy and can help you maintain a healthy weight while lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
  • When foods are processed—refined grains for example—they often lose much of their nutritional value. Scratch cooking with minimally processed ingredients ensures that kids are getting the key nutrients their bodies need to grow.
  • Several studies suggest a link between a healthy diet and improved mental health.
  • Choosing ingredients gives schools the ability to reduce added sugars in school meals. Added sugars offer no nutrients and can lead to obesity (and poor heart health) when overconsumed.

Academic Performance

Higher-quality diets and scratch cooked school meals promote learning. They can lead to better grades and test scores as well as improved cognitive function and longer attention spans.


Social Equity

In 2018, nearly three-quarters of school lunches were served at the free or reduced price. By serving scratch cooked meals in schools we can ensure that all kids have access to healthy food, no matter their family’s economic situation.


Lifelong Healthy Eating Habits

Through healthy school meals and lunchroom education, students can develop healthy eating habits that will stick with them throughout their lives.


Environmental Sustainability

A cook-from-scratch model gives schools the flexibility to run a more sustainable meal program. For example, districts can alter their procurement practices to purchase locally grown produce or alter preparation techniques to reduce food waste. In addition to lowering school food’s impact on the environment, sustainable lunchrooms offer a variety of learning opportunities for students.

Recommended Next Topic: Founder Chef Ann

In 2009, Chef Ann founded the Chef Ann Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping schools take action so that every child has daily access to fresh, healthy food.

Recommended Next Topic: Founder Chef Ann

In 2009, Chef Ann founded the Chef Ann Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping schools take action so that every child has daily access to fresh, healthy food.

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