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School lunch programs

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Definition    Return to top

The nutritional goal of the school lunch program is to provide children a meal that contains approximately one-third of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) of nutrients. The lunches provide one-third of the RDA of nutrients when averaged over time -- not at each meal.

Recommendations    Return to top

Every school lunch program is different. To find out more about the program in your community, request menus from your child’s school. If the meals served are less nutritious than you would like, consider choosing 2 or 3 days a week for your child to participate, and supplement with healthier, home-prepared lunches on the remaining days.

When you are making judgments about the school lunch programs in your community, remember that the healthiest homemade lunches are of little benefit if they aren’t eaten.

Update Date: 5/8/2008

Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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