Trends in School Nutrition Programs

School nutrition programs are evolving and making changes to the way students experience and perceive school meals. Programs like school gardens, breakfast in the classroom, food pantries, and digital signage are taking over school cafeterias. All of these program trends drive student involvement and give students more to look forward to in the lunchroom.

If you know better, you do better. Studies have shown that students who grow vegetables are more likely to eat them. School gardens and Farm-to-Lunchroom programs give students the opportunity to be more proactive in what they are eating. The gardens also offer students new learning objectives and life skills. Planting, growing, and harvesting fruits and vegetables supply students with knowledge they wouldn't be able to obtain in a traditional classroom setting. School nutrition programs that have implemented gardens praise them for how they have changed the student perspective and the structure of their cafeterias.

Perhaps the biggest contributor to the rise in participation for school breakfast is the Breakfast in the Classroom movement. Skipping breakfast can be one of the most detrimental things a student can do. Students will be distracted from hunger, less likely to absorb information, and more likely to act out in the classroom if they did not eat breakfast. Students skip breakfast for many reasons. Whether it’s because they don’t have food at home, they don’t have time to eat in the cafeteria, or they don’t want to be the only one at school early to eat-- Breakfast in the Classroom solves all of these problems. Instead of breakfast being served in the cafeteria, it is brought straight to the classrooms! This makes it possible for all children to participate in getting the most important meal to start off their day right.

Speaking of cafeteria structure, school nutritionists have begun to take meals outside of the realm of the school day. More and more school districts are implementing food pantries which supply meals and snacks for students to take home. In the United States, more than 50 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch. There are also students whose one and only meal a day is provided to them by school lunchrooms. This is why school food pantries have taken off in recent years. Many students would go completely without food if it wasn’t for their school lunch heroes taking an initiative to feed them. Food pantries are not the only option for feeding students at home. Schools are getting more creative with these programs and even “Backpack Programs” are coming into play. Discreet backpacks full of food are placed into students’ lockers while they are in the classroom for them to be able to take home. This lowers the issue of food insecurity which is the main reason why students are not willing to take advantage of food programs.

As students are becoming more tech-savvy than ever before, digital signage becomes a must-have item in today’s cafeterias. Digital Signage can keep your students in the loop with what is going on in your cafeterias. The screen displays show students updates on what meals are being served, current school events, nutritionals, weather forecasts, and so much more. The signs also allow school social media pages to stream live on the screen. With students being so involved in the social media world today, signage that includes school social media pages can make the students feel more connected. MealViewer’s Digital Signage is specifically designed for everything a K-12 lunchroom could possibly need. Our signage changes the experience of waiting in the lunch line and turns it into an entertaining and social experience that students are willing to partake in. Digital Signage increases participation by taking away the boredom of the biggest reason why students don’t eat cafeteria food: the lunch line.

Don’t be left behind in the biggest K-12 school nutrition trends! At MealViewer, we are constantly analyzing our audience to meet the needs of our family.

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