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School Lunch – closing nutritional and economic gaps

In the school lunchroom trenches we see nutritionally not all homes are created equal. Some students come to school hungry for calories, some are hungry for nutrition, some are well fed and ready for school and finally some are tottering on being over fed. It makes it difficult to create a meal plan that suits all needs, but that is the job of the school food service worker.

I thought it might be interesting to get a reminder to see the Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels from November 2012. The chart below tracks cost of food based on four food plans:

  • Thrifty Plan
  • Low-Cost Plan
  • Moderate-Cost Plan
  • Liberal Plan

Look at the difference for a 9 year old child. The weekly cost to feed a 9 year old fluctuates between $35.00 and $69.40. Families on the liberal plan spend nearly twice as much as those on the thrifty plan. There’s no need for me to explain what that looks like on the frontlines – in the lunchroom you see it. This is just a reminder of how important a nutritious school lunch and school breakfast can be to some children. School food service workers have a hard job – but you make the difference to many children who deserve every advantage as they learn.

economic food plans

More info from the USDA Food Plans...

The Food Plans represent a nutritious diet at four different cost levels. The nutritional bases of the Food Plans are the 1997-2005 Dietary Reference Intakes, 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and 2005 MyPyramid food intake recommendations. In addition to cost, differences among plans are in specific foods and quantities of foods. Another basis of the Food Plans is that all meals and snacks are prepared at home. For specific foods and quantities of foods in the Food Plans, see Thrifty Food Plan, 2006 (2007) and The Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost, and Liberal Food Plans, 2007 (2007). All four Food Plans are based on 2001-02 data and updated to current dollars by using the Consumer Price Index for specific food items.
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