Better School Nutrition

Lazy Susan for School Nutrition Programs

Offer vs Serve: Enhancing School Nutrition Programs for Student Well-Being

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Nutritious meals are essential to students’ overall well-being and academic success. School nutrition programs help ensure that students have access to healthy, balanced meals so that they can focus on their schoolwork. “Offer vs Serve” (OVS) is a key strategy of these programs that aims to empower students and promote healthier food choices.

The Basics of Offer vs Serve for School Nutrition Programs

Offer vs Serve is a flexible meal service approach used in school cafeterias that allows students to make their own food choices while reducing waste. Students are presented with a variety of food options with the freedom to select what they want to eat, while ensuring their choices meet the established meal pattern guidelines.

3 Principles of Offer vs Serve

1. Choice

Offer vs Serve emphasizes the importance of providing students with a range of options from different food groups, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy. By allowing students to choose their preferred items, OVS empowers them to make decisions based on their personal preferences and dietary needs.

2. Variety

School nutrition programs expose students to a wide range of nutritious foods. With OVS, students have the opportunity to try new foods and explore different flavors. This broadens their palates and promotes healthier eating habits.

3. Balance

OVS provides balance by helping students select a combination of food items that meet the requirements of the meal pattern guidelines. These guidelines are designed to make sure students receive adequate nutrients from various food groups.

Benefits of Offer vs Serve

1. Reduced Food Waste

OVS minimizes food waste by letting students choose the specific items they want. Since students are more likely to select foods they like, there is a decrease in the amount of uneaten meals, resulting in cost savings and environmental benefits.

2. Increased Participation

Offering students a sense of autonomy and the ability to make choices can increase their engagement and participation in school meal programs. When students feel that their preferences are valued, they are more likely to take advantage of the available options.

3. Healthier Food Choices

OVS encourages students to make informed decisions regarding their meals. It provides an opportunity for them to learn about different food groups and develop a greater understanding of balanced nutrition. By actively selecting their meals, students are more likely to opt for healthier choices, leading to improved overall dietary habits.

4. Educational Value

Offer vs Serve can be used as an educational tool to teach students about nutrition, portion sizes, and the importance of a balanced diet. It offers an interactive learning experience within the school cafeteria, helping students develop lifelong healthy eating habits.

Offer vs Serve is a valuable approach in school nutrition programs that promotes student autonomy, reduced food waste, and healthier food choices. The Platinum Packaging Group works closely with these programs to provide excellent packaging for these meals that benefit students’ physical health but also contributes to their overall well-being and academic success.

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The Benefits of School Nutrition Programs

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School lunches are a critical part of everyday life that many take for granted, not realizing that for some, meals are not guaranteed. Lunches are essential for every student’s health and well-being, especially those from low-income families who struggle to make ends meet. This is why school nutrition programs have become such an integral part of our educational system—and what we do as a purveyor of packaging.

The National School Lunch Program helps children across the country receive a healthy, nutritious lunch every school day. Almost 95 percent of schools in the United States participate in the program—this means that over 30 million children are fed on a regular school day. The National School Lunch Program is the second largest food and nutrition assistance program in the nation. The first largest is Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as EBT, which is designed to provide for those who can’t afford meals while stimulating the economy.

School nutrition programs help students receive the nutrition they need to learn and function at a high level during their school day and beyond. Studies show that these programs provide a range of positive benefits, from decreasing food security to lowering obesity rates and improving health.

Read on to learn about some of the incredible benefits of school nutrition programs.

Reduced Food Insecurity

Nationwide studies show that receiving meals via school nutrition programs reduced food insecurity by 3.8 percent or more. Meanwhile, paying for school lunches can lead to higher food insecurity across entire low-income households. Other data shows that food insecurity is higher in the summer, when children are not in school, and therefore, not receiving free lunches. Reduced food insecurity has a significant positive effect on children’s mental health and can have a marked impact on their future.

Improved Consumption

The new school meal nutrition standards set by the National School Lunch Program promotes healthier eating by offering nutrient-rich meals that include fruits, vegetables and other beneficial foods. School meals are required to contain at least one third of the recommended daily dietary allowance of necessary nutrients, including whole grains and produce.

Other requirements include that a maximum of 30 percent of the calories in each meal are obtained from fat, with less than 10 percent from saturated fat. These nutrition standards are key to helping students learn how to eat better and are often healthier than packed meals brought from home. Studies conducted after the National School Lunch Program’s standards were raised during the 2012-2013 school year showed that a large segment of lunches packed at home for pre-school and kindergarten students contained higher amounts of sugar, calories, fat and saturated fat than meals provided by school lunch programs. Conversely, they were less rich in healthy, fundamental nutrients such as fiber, protein, calcium and vitamin A.

beefits of school nutrition programs

Better Overall Health & Decreased Obesity Rates

School nutrition programs have a wide-ranging impact on children’s overall health. National studies have shown that receiving meals via school nutrition programs lowered obesity rates by 17 percent or more and reduced poor health by 29 percent or more. Often times, the quality of meals and nutrients is better and more well-rounded than packed lunches, which boosts physical health. Research shows that when students eat school lunches, they consume more healthy nutrients such as vegetables, fruit and milk, and eat less desserts and sugary snacks. School meals also play an essential role in students’ readiness to learn and mental health. The security of knowing their meals are provided for helps students focus on school and enjoying their day, resulting in improved moods, and ultimately, better mental health.

At The Platinum Packaging Group, we are thrilled to be a part of the school nutrition programs that have such a positive impact on our nation’s children in need.  Our products help in the preparation of meals for these children.