Eating Healthier at School Improves Learning
Kids learn better eating habits when schools provide healthy foods. Learn what you can do to promote nutritious foods at your school.
Most US children attend school for six hours a day and consume as much as half of their daily calories at school. Kids who eat healthy foods at school learn better lifelong eating habits and are readier to learn.
School Meal Programs
Schools play an important role in shaping lifelong healthy eating habits by offering meals with important nutrients. Many schools provide students with meals through federal school meal programs including the National School Lunch ProgramExternal and the School Breakfast Program.External All students can participate in school meal programs. Some students can receive free or reduced-price meals. School meals offer milk, fruit, vegetables, whole grains and key nutrients like calcium and fiber. Learn more about healthy eating in schools and the benefits of school meals.
Nutrition and Academic Achievement
Healthy students are better learners. Research shows that nutrition affects student achievement. Student participation in the School Breakfast Program is associated with higher academic grades and standardized test scores, reduced absences, and improved memory. This fact sheet Cdc-pdf[480 KB] shows the connection between eating habits and academic grades. More information on the link between health and academic achievement can be found here.
Promoting Healthy Eating
Schools are an ideal setting to teach students to practice healthy habits when it comes to making food and beverage choices. Schools can use the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) approach to promote these positive health behaviors. Schools can use resources on this page to help provide nutritious snacks outside of the federal school meal programs. Parents can take part in promoting healthy eating in school by requesting that healthy food choices are available at school events and celebrations and that nutritious foods and beverages are sold during school fundraisers. CDC’s Parents for Healthy Schools gives more ideas on how to get involved.
CDC’s Comprehensive Framework for Addressing the School Nutrition Environment and Services Cdc-pdf[2.95 MB] provides school nutrition professionals, school health professionals, administrators, teachers, and parents detailed information on the different parts of a school nutrition environment and how, together, they influence a students’ access to healthy foods and beverages at school.