School meals are a powerful educational support: improving behavior, ability to focus and academic performance. School meals are also an important source of nutrition for all school-age children with school meals being more nutritious than what most children buy from outside sources or pack from home. Many low-income Vermont students rely on school meals as their most consistent source of quality food.


School Meals improve health During the school day:

  • Prevent hunger: School breakfast has been linked with fewer visits to the school nurse, especially in the morning.

  • Provide balanced meals: School breakfast participants are more likely to consume diets that are adequate in important vitamins and minerals. Children who live in hungry households depend to a greater degree on school meals for their nutrition.

  • Model balanced nutrition: Children who eat school meals have improved nutritional health.

  • Expand children’s palettes: Introducing children to new healthy foods which they may not otherwise have the chance to try gives them the chance to develop preferences for a wider variety of foods.

  • Combat childhood obesity: School breakfast participation is associated with lower body mass index, and less of chance of a child being overweight or obese.

School Meals improve health at home:

  • Alleviate Hunger: School meals help families stretch food budgets and prevents hunger at home.

  • Result in reduced risk for:

    • Nutrient deficiencies and poor health

    • Developmental delays

    • Significant mental health issues

    • Poor emotional health

School Meals improve Learning:

  • Help kids stay focused on the task at hand: School meals improve students’ ability to focus and reduce behavior problems.

  • Reducing missed class time: Access to meals at school improves students' attendance and reduces tardiness.

  • Providing the nutritional foundation: School meals provide students with the nutritional foundation that has been shown to improve student test scores and academic performance



Publicly-funded school meal programs began with lunch in 1942, in response to the widespread malnutrition discovered during World War II.  This became the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Since then, Congress has created additional Child Nutrition Programs in response to widespread hunger and malnutrition—including obesity—among U.S. children: