Fun fact: Congress passed the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in 1946, after a federal investigation concluded many young men had failed to pass draft requirements as a result of childhood malnutrition. Serving meals in schools was a “measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation’s children.”
School lunches have since become much more than a wartime bolster. In recent decades, they’ve become a life raft for kids hovering around the poverty line. Yet many schools have continued to cook to 1940s-era health standards, despite the current obesity epidemic and the fact that many children, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, are less exposed to fresh home-cooked meals (which are associated with higher intake of fruits and vegetables) than in decades past. When the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act overhauled the NSLP, changes were long overdue.