International School Meals Day is celebrated annually every second Thursday in March and takes place on March 14 this year. It is a unique movement that creates awareness about healthy eating for all children around the world. The event first occurred in the U.S. and the U.K. in March 2013. Coordinated by a nonprofit organization known as Children in Scotland, it has reached countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and America. It continues to grow due to support from many other organizations and charities worldwide. Good nutrition is vital to kids, their growth, and their mental development — further emphasizing the need to foster healthy eating habits at school and at home for kids.
History of International School Meals Day
International School Meals Day started as an initiative to foster healthy eating habits for children both at home and school. Since December 2010, the U.K. and the U.S. have encouraged policies and practices in facilitating good nutrition in schools. Experiencing similar challenges, they both wanted to find a way to raise awareness of the need for healthy diets amongst children, and so, the holiday began.
Following its launch in 2013, teachers, nutrition professionals, policymakers, schools and communities, charities, and businesses worldwide came together to discuss the importance of school meals and how they affect children and their education. The international event is coordinated by staff at Children in Scotland, with support from partners from around the globe. In 2018, an International School Meals Day competition welcomed more than 100 global entries, with 20 winning recipes published in a cookbook as part of the festivities.
In 2022, the holiday marked its tenth anniversary, accompanied by the theme “Celebrating School Meals”. Encouraging the sharing of recipes and experiences from different parts of the world, school children and staff, caterers, and organizations were involved in making exciting meals and learning about the food and culture of various ethnicities. They also gave away food on March 10. The event celebrated a social media reach of about 3.3 million people. Tweets trended on Twitter with the hashtag #internationalschoolmealday, with a whopping total of 8,600 social media interactions as of March 2022.
International School Meals Day timeline
The U.S. and the U.K. encourage policies and practices to foster healthy eating in schools.
International School Meals Day commences, arranged by the nonprofit Children in Scotland.
An International School Meals Day competition receives more than 100 global entries.
International School Meals Day marks its 10th year of the movement.
International School Meals Day FAQs
What are school dinners in the U.K.?
There is usually a main course, dessert, and a drink in U.K.’s school dinners.
What is the school lunch in India?
School lunch in India provides a minimum nutritional content of 12 grams of protein and 450 calories for primary schools, and 20 grams of protein and 700 calories for secondary schools.
Are meals free in U.S. schools?
School meal programs in the United States provide school meals free of charge, or at a government-subsidized price for students from low-income families.
How to Observe International School Meals Day
Host or attend a workshop on healthy eating
Hosting or attending a workshop on nutrition and healthy cooking is a way to get in the spirits of the holiday. With a few friends or neighbors, one can easily organize a workshop. Invite children of the neighborhood to attend the workshop too.
Try cooking activities with an international theme
International School Meals Day comes with an international theme each year. There are recommended recipes for participants to try their hands on. No matter your level of expertise in cooking, it is a fun way to partake in the holiday and celebrate with everyone.
Donate to charities
By donating to nutrition-focused organizations, such as the World Food Program, you can help provide food for children in war-ridden or economically struggling countries. No donation is too small or insignificant.
Why We Love
Global food competitions
In 2018, an International School Meals Day competition welcomed more than 100 global entries.
368 million children benefit
Statistics show that school meals are provided for about 368 million children each school day worldwide.
Healthy lunch helps school
Children and teens who eat healthy school lunches are 340% more likely to remember information presented in class throughout the day.
India has the largest school meals program
India claims the top spot with a government midday meal program that feeds 120 million students per day.
A more balanced diet
Students who participate in school meal programs consume more whole grains, milk, fruits, and vegetables during meal times and have better overall diet quality.
Why International School Meals Day is Important
It spreads the word about good nutrition
Raise awareness about healthy eating for all children from every background and place. Children must be provided good meals at school and at home each day.
The holiday motivates people to donate to charities that provide food for children in less fortunate conditions. The World Food Program continues to grow with such donations and aids more children.
Fun cooking activities
With fresh, healthy recipes from the movement to try out, cooking feels rather adventurous and nutritious. The holiday presents fun activities to try out in a group or individually.
International School Meals Day dates