SOURCE: School Nutrition Association

October 09, 2006 09:06 ET

Winner of 'Vote for School Lunch' to Be Announced During National School Lunch Week

School Nutrition Association Releases Report on Local Wellness Policy Characteristics

ALEXANDRIA, VA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- October 9, 2006 -- What is America's favorite school lunch? Five healthy school lunch choices were transformed into fun election candidates and have been battling it out for the title of the nation's favorite school lunch this fall. Students have been voting for their choice online at and in their school cafeterias and classrooms. The winner will be announced during the 43rd annual National School Lunch Week (NSLW), October 9 - 13, 2006.

Each of the five candidates is an important part of a well-balanced school lunch that meets federal nutrition guidelines and provides the fruits and vegetables, protein and whole grains that children need to succeed in school. Offered in age-appropriate portion sizes, and a great value at the national average of $1.75, healthy school lunches have been campaigning since August for the votes of students from Alaska to Florida. Thousands of school cafeterias nationwide will be celebrating the Vote for School Lunch campaign all week by serving up the five candidates:

--  Ricky Chicken - baked rather than fried and coated in a whole grain
--  Heddi Spaghetti - whole-wheat pasta with a lean meat sauce
--  Rocco Taco - whole grain taco shell with veggies, low fat cheese and
    lean meat
--  Sally Salad - greens and veggies, plus low fat dressing
--  Pete Pizza - whole-wheat crust and low fat mozzarella cheese

The campaign highlights how students' favorite cafeteria meals have received a nutrition makeover to become healthful choices for lunch. Schools are holding rallies, candidate debates, lunchtime campaign stops and elections throughout the country, teaching the dual lessons of good nutrition and good citizenship. The national winner of the Vote for School lunch campaign will be announced Wednesday, October 11, 2006.

As this year marks the 60th anniversary of the National School Lunch Program, another theme being highlighted this week is the way school lunch has improved over the decades. The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is releasing "A Foundation for the Future: Analysis of Local Wellness Policies from the 100 Largest School Districts." Although the largest 100 school districts make up less than 1% of the school districts in the nation, they account for 23% of the nation's K-12 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. "The wellness policies approved this year by America's schools are a comprehensive approach to promoting healthful habits for children, addressing nutrition standards, physical activity and nutrition education," said SNA President Janey Thornton, SFNS. Among the findings the report highlights: 97% of school district wellness policies set nutrition standards for school meals and 94% of the policies set a la carte nutrition standards.

President John F. Kennedy established NSLW in 1963. The weeklong event celebrates the important role school nutrition programs play in the lives of America's children. School nutrition professionals carefully balance nutrition and student appeal to provide over 145 million schools lunches each school week. The School Nutrition Association celebrates the event each year with a theme and promotional materials. Otis Spunkmeyer, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the Cartoon Network's Get Animated campaign and Tetra Pak provided support for this year's campaign.

The School Nutrition Association is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals. Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children's health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.

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