Packed Lunch or School Lunch?

It is that time of the year again—back-to-school season. As you prepare your child to head back to school you may be asking yourself “did we purchase everything on the school supply list?” and “will they like their teacher?” or maybe “should we sign them up for football or soccer?” While you ponder those questions, another important one to ask yourself is “will my child be participating in the meal program at school?” The answer to this question could impact their health, your wallet and your time.

Nutrition

In order for a meal to be served at your child’s school, it has to meet strict nutrition standards. This means more fruits and vegetables, less sugar, fat and sodium and plenty of whole grains and lean proteins on your child’s lunch tray. Additionally, studies have shown that lunches from home tend to be higher in calories, saturated fat and sugar while also being lower in protein and fiber.

Cost

Your child may be eligible to receive free or reduced meals if your family meets a certain income eligibility cut-off. Make sure to fill out the income eligibility paperwork for your school to see if your child can receive free or reduced meals.

Also, you may not be saving as much money as you think by packing lunches. Studies have shown that packed lunches ring in at a higher cost than school lunches. A typical, well-balanced packed lunch may consist of a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, a bag of trail mix, a cheese stick, some vegetables and a piece of fruit, which rings at a price around $3.18 per lunch. On the other hand, purchasing school lunch at full price ranges from an average of $2.18 in elementary schools to $2.42 in high schools.

Time

If you prepare your child’s lunch every school day for the year, how many minutes do you think this accumulates to? If you spend 10 minutes preparing lunch for each school day, this accumulates to 30 hours of time spent throughout the 180-day school year.

iStock_14333324_SMALL(1)

School Meals Tips

Here are some tips for encouraging your child to make healthy school breakfast and lunch choices.

  • Discuss the school meal your child will be having that day in a positive way, so they will be more open to trying new meals even if they are unfamiliar.
  • If possible, have lunch at your child’s school to demonstrate positive eating behaviors with your child. Make sure to try the fruits and vegetables and other meal components!
  • Discuss the fruit and vegetable options for the day and ask your child which option they will choose. This will help them feel more confident when entering the lunch line.
  • Pick a daily meal component and discuss the nutritional value of that food. This promotes a positive relationship with food and health. If you are unsure of the nutritional value of a meal component, look it up and learn together!

Packed Lunch tips

Despite the improvements to school meals, you may love preparing lunch for your kid every day and will continue to do so. Here are some tips to ensure your child is getting the nutrients they need in their packed lunch.

  • Try to build a lunch that mirrors USDA’s MyPlate, similar to that of school lunches. This includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy and lean protein.
  • Stay away from prepackaged snacks as these tend to be higher in sodium, saturated fats and sugars. These also tend to be the more expensive items in a packed lunch.
  • Stay away from added-sugar juices and sodas as these pack on the sugar and can cause your child to feel tired later in the school day.
  • Involve your kid in the lunch making process. This will create a sense of responsibility in the food process which has shown to increase consumption of the food prepared, especially fruits and veggies!
  • Check out the Alliance Product Calculator from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. This allows you to see if a possible packed lunch item is a healthy choice for your child.

So what does it come down to?

If you can pack a lunch that is providing your child with the nutrients they need for a budget that fits your family, go for it! But if you are unsure or would like to save yourself some time and money, trust your school meals program to serve a healthy and affordable meal to your child.


 

Alysa Grude, the National PTA School Meals Fellow. Alysa holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Food Science and Dietetics and is currently pursuing her Master’s of Public Health in Public Nutrition.

Use TV Parental Guidelines to Find the Best Programs for Kids

Home from school with spare time, the summer offers many children the opportunity to watch more television. While each individual family has its own standards for deciding what’s appropriate for its children to watch, the TV Parental Guidelines is a helpful resource to help parents make informed decisions on which programs are suitable for their children.

What are the TV Parental Guidelines? 

Since the late 1990s, virtually all programs that air on television—with the exception of news and sports—are assigned a rating that provides parents information about the content and age-appropriateness of the program. These ratings, called the TV Parental Guidelines, fall into two groups: ratings for programming created specifically for children and ratings for programming intended for general audiences.

The TV Parental Guidelines are designed to be easily recognizable and simple to use. The Guidelines appear in the upper left corner of the TV screen in the first 15 seconds of the program and often reappear after commercial breaks. While most programs on television are rated, television commercials are not and cannot be blocked through parental controls.

Understanding the TV Ratings

TV-Ratings

How Can the Guidelines be Used with Parental Controls? 

Families can use the TV Parental Guidelines simultaneously with parental controls in TV sets and cable and satellite set top boxes to block programs they believe are unsuitable for their children. Parents have the ability to block programs based on both the age-based ratings as well as the content descriptors.

Contacting the TV Monitoring Board

The Monitoring Board is responsible for overseeing the TV Parental Guidelines and for working to ensure uniformity and consistency in the application of the guidelines. Parents can find more information about the ratings and the board at TVGuidelines.org.

Viewers can also contact the board by mail, phone or email with any questions or complaints about TV ratings.

TV-Ratings-Contact


Missi Tessier is the executive secretariat at the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board.

National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

Implement Healthy Habits All Year Long

Lysol is a financial sponsor of National PTA and has been invited to submit a blog post as part of their engagement with PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

shutterstock_439878460

The summer break has officially begun and your children are likely making the most of every minute of every day, from summer camp and playdates to BBQs and picnics! As part of the Healthy Habits Program, Lysol hopes to spread the word on the healthy habits you can teach your children and practice this summer, starting with changes you can make in your own backyard. Whether your family is vacationing at the beach or throwing a BBQ at home, arm your children with the knowledge to help them stay healthy and truly make a memorable summer break. Some simple ways include:

  • Grill with Knowledge: For your summer BBQs and picnics, give your children a lesson in food safety using the CDC BBQ IQ[1] Key takeaways include properly washing surfaces that have come in contact with raw meat and thoroughly washing veggies. And of course, washing hands before and after they eat!
  • Drink Water and Have Fun: Longer days mean your children will likely be spending more time outside. Remind them of the importance of staying hydrated while playing outdoors A good rule of thumb is have them drink five to eight cups of water a day.
  • Clean to Support Your School: Lysol and Box Tops for Education partnered to help promote healthy habits and support schools across the U.S. If you’re one of many parents who collect Box Tops for your children’s school, you can now also collect from Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and Lysol Disinfectant Spray.

Visit Lysol.com/HealthyHabits for more information on the Healthy Habits Program.


Rory Tait is the Marketing Director at Lysol. He drives the Lysol Healthy Habits campaign, a program focused on educating parents across the country on the importance of healthy habits and good hygiene practices. Box Tops for Education and associated words and designs are trademarks of General Mills, used under license. ©General Mills

[1] CDC.gov. “BBQ IQ. Get Smart. Grill Safely” (Accessed June 1, 2015)

Save

Save

Protecting the Progress We’ve Made in School Nutrition

shutterstock_432895717It’s hard to believe that before long, it will be back-to-school time again.  Like many of you, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been hard at work this summer preparing for the upcoming school year. Over the past six years since the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, schools across the country have made incredible progress in ensuring all children have access to more nutritious food in school.

Today, joined by Kelly Langston, president of North Carolina PTA, USDA is announcing four final rules that continue the Obama Administration’s historic commitment to building a healthier next generation. While they won’t make any drastic new changes, these rules will ensure the positive changes schools have already made will remain in place and improve children’s health for years to come.

National PTA has advocated for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs since they were first created, and I am proud to have PTA join us for this announcement. You have been one of USDA’s most valued partners, advocating for changes like stronger nutrition standards and more family and community involvement in local school wellness policies to promote nutrition and physical activity in schools. Thanks to your advocacy in Washington and your leadership in local school districts, 98% of schools nationwide are now meeting updated, science-based nutrition standards and serving meals with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy—and less sodium—in age-appropriate portion sizes. USDA is also seeing healthier school environments overall for the more than 52 million children who attend schools that participate in the USDA meal programs.

One of the biggest advances made under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the Smart Snacks in School rule, which ensured for the first time that all food and beverages sold a la carte in the cafeteria, in vending machines, or elsewhere on the school campus meet practical, science-based nutrition standards in-line with the requirements for school lunches and breakfasts. Schools have already implemented the Smart Snacks rule and are offering an impressive variety of options that meet the new standards and are popular with students.  The Smart Snacks final rule USDA is announcing today will ensure this progress remains in place.

About 70% of elementary and middle school students are exposed to some form of food or beverage marketing at school.  The Local School Wellness Policy final rule, also announced today, ensures that any food or beverage marketed on school campuses during the school day meets the same Smart Snacks standards.  National PTA has long been a strong supporter of robust school wellness policies that create healthy, supportive learning environments as children spend a majority of their day in school. National PTA was instrumental in developing this rule, which requires schools to engage parents, students, and community members in the creation of their local school wellness policies, and empowers communities to take an active role in the health of their children. States and local communities will continue to have flexibility in developing wellness policies that work best for them.

shutterstock_293985629The two other rules announced today, the Community Eligibility Provision final rule and the Administrative Review final rule, will codify changes that have improved access to school meals for low-income children and strengthened oversight and integrity in the programs at the State level. The Community Eligibility Provision, another major advance made under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, allows school districts or individual schools with high numbers of low-income children to serve free meals to all students, eliminating the need for parents to fill out a free lunch application and reducing burdensome paperwork for school administrators so they can focus on what’s most important—feeding kids. More than 18,000 high-poverty schools serving 8.5 million students are now participating in this streamlined option, which has been shown to increase student participation in breakfast and lunch.

When kids return to school and Congress returns to work in September, USDA and the Administration will continue to call on Congress to reauthorize the Federal child nutrition programs. The Senate Agriculture Committee has already passed a bi-partisan bill that would protect the progress we have made and earned PTA’s support. The Senate bill would also support grants and loans to help schools purchase the kitchen equipment and infrastructure they need to prepare healthy meals, which National PTA has called for.

Children’s ability to learn in the classroom and reach their fullest potential depends on what we do right now to ensure their health.  USDA is grateful for National PTA’s partnership in ensuring every child in America has the opportunity to grow up healthy and succeed in school and later in life. Together, we have supported these healthy changes that will benefit our children—and our country– far into the future.


Tom Vilsack serves as the nation’s 30th Secretary of Agriculture.

Save

Save

Reducing Underage Drinking–One Town Hall Meeting at a Time

PTA_CT

Summer vacation is in full swing. This can be a relaxing time for students as they have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and break away from the stress of school. Unfortunately, it can also be a risky time, especially for teenagers. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Report, “Monthly Variation in Substance Use Initiation among Adolescents,” during summer vacation, more teens start using alcohol than in other months.

Parents and teachers can play a vital role in reducing underage drinking. By working together to reward each student’s decision not to drink and ensure that social events do not provide a drinking environment, parents and teachers are in a powerful position to address the perils of underage drinking.

One of the ways SAMHSA addresses the prevention of and increases the national conversation about underage drinking is with its Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking initiative. Having these conversations makes a difference. In 2014, 83% of the town hall meeting participants reported gaining new knowledge about the prevention of underage alcohol use, and 48% of event hosts reported they planned to follow up their event by developing a prevention strategy.

The initiative provides several tools and resources to help parents and teachers begin this conversation. SAMHSA provides community-based organizations with a $500 stipend to mobilize their communities to prevent underage drinking. Tools to help you plan an event include an underage drinking fact sheet, a Guide to Youth Engagement in Underage Drinking Prevention Events, success stories and parent resources.

Join the over 1,300 communities nationwide in hosting a Communities Talk: Town Hall Meeting to Prevent Underage Drinking:

  1. Email info@stopalcoholabuse.net to express your interest in hosting a meeting. Please include the name of your organization, contact name, contact email, contact phone number and name of an affiliate national organization.
  1. Register to host a Communities Talk meeting. After you send an email expressing your interest, you will receive an invitation to register. Then, you will have the opportunity to receive a $500 planning stipend.
  1. Plan your Communities Talk meeting to prevent underage drinking using the resources available.

Frances M. Harding is the director for the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Save

Save

Be a Summer Meals Champion!

girls with lunch

It’s that time of year: Teachers have wrapped up their lesson plans, students have all handed in their finals, the physical education department has packed away the sports equipment and the school nutrition staff have hung up their aprons. Summer is here!

For many, the final toll of the school bell is full of promise. Days spent splashing around the pool, riding bikes with friends and competing in watermelon seed-spitting contests lie ahead! But for some, summer takes on a different meaning. For the child who remembers the times he had to go without lunch last summer while his mom was working two jobs, summer can mean being hungry. For the single dad who is struggling to figure out how to cover the extra costs of feeding his kids now that they aren’t receiving breakfast and lunch at school, summer can mean feeling stressed.

But it doesn’t have to be that way… USDA’s summer meals programs make it easy for children to continue receiving the daily meals they need when school is out for the summer. At tens of thousands of sites across the country, kids and teens 18-years-old or younger can come together in a safe environment to eat healthy meals at no cost. Often, the sites offer opportunities to engage in educational and physical activities as well. These sites are strategically located in areas where many children receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year, to ensure access for those who need it most.

Last year, USDA served about 3.8 million children more than 190 million meals through the summer meals programs! But this still only represents about one in six of the children who receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year. That is the critical summer meals gap we’re working tirelessly to fill. The goal of the summer meals programs is to fuel children and teens to reach their highest potential, but that can only be done if families know about the programs and how to find a site near them. That’s where you come in!

As parents, teachers and/or community leaders, you can be a summer meals champion by helping to spread the word in your communities. Pass out information at school, tell your neighbors, announce it at sports practices, send an email blast through your community listserv, post it on Facebook or ask to post a flier at your local grocery store—it doesn’t matter how we get the word out about the summer meals programs, just that we do. Together, we can give kids and teens the summer they deserve and ensure they return to school in the fall fueled up and ready to learn!

Find a Site Near You:

  • Visit the Summer Meals site finder (in English and Spanish; mobile version available)
  • Call (866) 348-6479 (English) or (877) 842-6273 (Spanish)

Text FOOD (English) or COMIDA (Spanish) to 877-877, operated by a USDA partner

You can also find Summer Meals promotional materials and resources, and learn how to participate in the program.


Dr. Katie Wilson is the Deputy Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

4 Ways to Keep Your Kids Engaged This Summer

Summer break is an important time for children to bond with family and friends, participate in enriching outdoor activities and enjoy a break from school. But while enjoying the free time and taking advantage of all the season has to offer, it is essential that children do not take a break from learning.

Research shows that children experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer months. Keeping children engaged in learning during summer break will help ease the back-to-school transition when the time comes and help them start the new school year on the right foot.

Summer activities provide fun, teachable moments—connecting real-life activities to what children have been learning in school reinforces those skills. These moments also provide great opportunities to expose children to new ideas and information and allow parents to encourage creativity.

Here are four ways to optimize learning during summer break:

Explore a National Park, Museum or Historic Site—Parks, museums and historic sites provide opportunities to bring learning to life for children. Many historic sites stage reenactments of battles or demonstrations of life during that time period. Almost all of the parks have activities for children. Ask your children to identify things they learned in school and nurture their navigation skills by making a scavenger hunt for your outing. You can also put your kids’ math skills to the test by giving them a set amount of money and having them manage their spending throughout the day.

Read Every Day—Studies show that reading daily during summer break is the most important activity families can do to prevent learning loss. Take your kids to the local library and borrow books to read over the break. And spend time reading together as a family—it helps children develop their literacy skills and excel academically.

Go to a Cultural Festival—Many communities host cultural festivals during the summer months, which are great occasions for children to learn about different cultures. Sample authentic food and drink, listen to storytellers, watch traditional dances and enjoy the artwork created by local artists from that culture. After attending a festival, discuss the experience as a family and encourage your kids to Google answers to any questions.

Keep a Journal—Summer activities abound, and recording them in a journal is a great way to capture those memories. As an added bonus, encouraging your kids to write about daily events helps boost their vocabulary and practice their handwriting as well as their grammar, spelling and creative writing skills.

Family schedules can be grueling during the summer—running from camps to swim meets to baseball and softball games—but it is important to keep learning a priority. Engaging in educational activities for an hour or even 30 minutes each day will support children’s success and ensure they start the new school year on track.


 

Laura Bay is president of National PTA, a nonprofit association dedicated to promoting children’s health, well-being and educational success through family and community involvement. In addition to leading National PTA, Bay is a coordinator for assessment and instruction for the Bremerton School District in Bremerton, Wash.

 

 

 

 

End Bullying From #Day1

Day1-ImageAccording to StopBullying.gov, an average of 49% of youth in grades 4-12 are bullied (there is also bullying in preschool-grade 3). More than 70% of youth have witnessed bullying in their schools. Sadly, the old adage “Sticks and stones….” is a falsehood. The effects of bullying can lead to poor academic performance, depression and physical issues. This is an issue we can stop through proactive conversations with kids about treating people with respect and kindness. When bystanders intervene, instances of bullying stop 57% of the time.

To help communities start to have these critical conversations, the family of Tyler Clementi created a program in 2010 in response to the bullying their son endured as a freshman at Rutgers University by his roommate and others. A bright, talented and creative young man, Tyler became a victim of cyber-bullying in college which ultimately led to his death by suicide. Tyler’s family wanted to do something to stop any other person from being bullied. They formed the Tyler Clementi Foundation and spoke with experts, parents, educators and kids, who all told them that the best way to end bullying is through prevention. This led to the birth of the #Day1 Campaign to end bullying.

The #Day1 Campaign is a free, research-based and simple-to-use program that supports and ensures that everyone is on the same page when it comes to bullying behavior and expectations within school. It does so in the following ways:

  • Recognizes a person of leadership such as a teacher, principal or coach
  • Provides clear language that addresses specific harassing and bullying behavior
  • Offers tools for bystanders to become “upstanders”
  • Ensures there is verbal confirmation that the expectations are understood

This program is not intended to replace any current programming in a school. It simply outlines what bullying is and offers additional tools to end it. It’s been used by schools and community groups all over the U.S. to supplement their anti-bullying programs.

How Can Your PTA Help?

Encourage school and community leaders to bring the #Day1 Campaign to your schools, community groups, teams and after-school groups. Parents, students and coaches have all used the #Day1 program with their communities and you can, too. Simply go to Day1Campaign.com and download sample toolkit materials. They are available for all age groups so they’ll work for all schools. Feel free to make this program your own! As long as the wording stays the same, you can custom-fit the #Day1 Campaign for your school. After you use #Day1, let us know how it has made an impact!

No kid deserves to go through life being attacked. Through the collaboration of parents, faculty, staff and the community, we can address bullying and finally put an end to it from #Day1.

For more info, email us at or find our twitter @TylerClementi.


Katey Aquilina is the coordinator of the #Day1 Campaign of the Tyler Clementi Foundation.

Consider a “Digital Diet” for Your Family

thumbnail_Digital-Tip_Safe-Listening_1200x630

As tablets, smartphones and other personal technology devices play an increasingly dominant role in all of our lives, finding a good balance seems to be a tricky endeavor in many American households. Both parents and teens log more than five hours a day on their devices (outside of work and school), often during family dinners and while spending leisure time together. Many people also use these devices for hours each day with earbuds or headphones.

Finding balance is critical for many reasons, including children’s communication health. Dedicated time for verbal exchange— listening, talking, reading and interacting face-to-face —is essential for young children’s speech and language development. It is critical that time spent alone with devices (even on educational apps!) does not take away from time for interaction with parents. This “talk time” is also a precursor for reading, academic and social success. The benefits extend to older children as well, whose brains are still developing throughout the teen years, as well as family relationships.

Too much time on digital devices doesn’t just negatively impact communication health and academic success, it also has an effect on physical health. There has been a tremendous increase in hearing loss among children recently. Noise-induced hearing loss is a preventable problem, but once it occurs, it is irreversible. Earbud and headphone misuse can be especially problematic.

May is Better Hearing & Speech Month, a great time for technology-dependent families to introduce some better habits. (The exception being for children who require assistive devices to communicate.) A recent survey from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) showed that once parents and teens learn more about the potential negative effects of tech overuse, they are willing to change their habits. Being mindful of balance is also key as we approach summer, when increased leisure time often means even more tech time for kids. Here are some “digital diet” tips from ASHA:

  1. Create a family technology plan—together. An agreed-upon set of rules is a good way to keep everyone on track. Schedule regular check-ins to determine whether you’re actually substituting tech time with more quality time together. Surprisingly, most teens whose parents set rules agree that the rules are fair—and parents report they work.
  1. Designate tech-free zones in the home. The kitchen, bedrooms, the family room…there may be one place in your home that you can keep devices out of, as a general rule. This helps with the temptation to constantly check your phone or jump at the sound of every incoming notification. It makes a difference to even have 30 minutes free from tech distractions.
  1. Talk instead of text, when possible. Texting offers tremendous convenience for parents to get in touch with their kids. But texting is not a replacement for verbal exchange. Tone, facial expressions and other nonverbal signals are just some of the ways in which texting falls short (and no, emojis don’t do the trick). Try to avoid texting your child when both of you are at home, as a start.
  1. Resist overreliance on technology to pacify boredom. Technology is an easy way to keep even the youngest children entertained. However, the best opportunities for conversation, learning and bonding are often found in situations that may be viewed as boring, such as while running errands or on a long car trip.
  1. Always practice safe listening, especially when using earbuds or headphones. Teach kids to keep the volume down (a good guide is half volume) and to take listening breaks. These are messages kids need to “hear” from their parents.

Remember, if you ever have concerns about your child’s hearing or speech/language skills, consult a certified audiologist or speech-language pathologist.


thumbnail_Handelsman, Jaynee DSC_3889 16x20 copy

Jaynee A. Handelsman, PhD, CCC-A is a pediatric audiologist and the 2016 ASHA president.

 

Child Nutrition Bill to be Debated in House Education Committee

It’s just common sense: healthy students make better learners, and school meals are an opportunity for children to receive more than half of their daily nutrient needs. Ensuring children have access to nutritious foods in schools is critical to their success.

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a markup of the House’s child nutrition reauthorization bill, titled the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (H.R. 5003), at 11 a.m. on May 18.

National PTA and many school nutrition advocates are concerned with the House bill in its current form as some of the provisions are expected to roll back years of progress toward healthy and nutritious school meals. The following are just a few of the provisions in the House bill that would negatively impact your child’s access to healthy foods in schools.

The House bill would roll back nutrition standards at your school

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) was passed by federal lawmakers in 2010 to improve the nutritional value of all foods and beverages sold in schools. HHFKA requires a school lunch to include a fruit or a vegetable, whole-grains and low-fat dairy products. It also sets limits on calories, fats, sodium and sugar content. To date, the United States Department of Agriculture has reported that 98.5% of schools are successfully meeting the updated nutrition standards. National PTA has helped further these efforts in schools through our Healthy Lifestyles program and Healthy School Meals Grants. However, the House bill would roll back these efforts by allowing popular foods in certain regions of the U.S. (such as biscuits, grits, white rice and others) to be exempt from the whole grain requirements as well as delaying the implementation of sodium reduction targets in school meals.

The House bill would allow school fundraisers to be less healthy

National PTA has also been working with schools to implement healthy and nutritious fundraisers that adhere to the Smart Snack guidelines that went into effect in 2014. PTAs across the country have been working hard to improve school meals and other food items sold during the school day. Thus, PTA cannot support the House bill’s language that would exempt school fundraisers from the Smart Snack guidelines when countless schools have proven to hold successful fundraisers that are healthy and nutritious, such as selling healthy snacks at school stores and school-wide run-a-thons.

The House bill would restrict access to school meals in low-income neighborhoods

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) was included in HHFKA to allow schools and districts with high poverty rates to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students who attend that school or district. This has reduced the administrative burden on schools and the stigma children and families face while participating in the free and reduced-price school meals program. The House bill would hinder access for 7,000 schools and millions of children from receiving healthy school meals by increasing the eligibility requirements to participate in the program. Find out if your child’s school would be effected by this provision by visiting this searchable database.

The House bill would limit the number of times your school can contact families and encourage them to participate in the school meals program to only twice per school year

This provision in the bill is of great concern to PTA as one of our founding principles is our dedication to engaging families in their child’s education, which research has shown improves student outcomes. Limiting the amount of communication a school may have with families on any issue is detrimental to the school environment and student learning. Parents and families have a right to know what school-based opportunities are provided to their child throughout the year, which includes the health and nutrition of their child.

Sign-up to receive our PTA Takes Action e-newsletter and follow @NationalPTA on Twitter for updates on the bill and information on other National PTA legislative priorities.


Joshua Westfall is the government affairs manager at National PTA.