Research has shown that children's cognitive, behavioral, and physical performance are impaired by poor nutrition (Center on Hunger, Poverty, and Nutrition Policy, 1993; CDC, 1996). School meals that meet U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines play a significant role in providing good nutrition. The School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study (Burghart and Devaney, 1995) found that students who ate the school lunch had higher intakes of key nutrients than students who made other choices. A study of low-income elementary students found that participation in the school breakfast program led to increased standardized test scores and decreased absenteeism and tardiness (Meyers et al., 1989).

The concept of foodservice is not limited to the reimbursable school meal program for which the USDA establishes nutrition standards. High-quality local standards are needed for all food available on the school campus—including food sold through vending machines and special events—and for the environment in which these foods are made available to students. Although the immediate goal of the school foodservice may be the provision of student meals, the ultimate goals are providing education and establishing lifelong healthful dietary habits.

Comprehensive Family Services. Access may be provided through the school to a wide range of health and social services for students and their families, especially in disadvantaged communities. Examples of services include health and dental care, adult literacy programs, employment training, family counseling, child care, legal services, recreation and culture, and provision of basic needs in housing, food, and clothing. Providing access to services through the school does not necessarily require an increase in overall budgets for these services. Typically, many of these services already exist but in a fragmented manner, and families often find the system difficult to access and navigate. Collocating and coordinating comprehensive services through a familiar neighborhood institution such as the school has been found to improve access, increase efficiency, and facilitate follow-up (Wagner et al., 1994). Comprehensive school-affiliated family services are increasingly considered to be an important means for reaching families and for improving academic, health, and social outcomes for students10 (American Academy of Pediatrics, 1994a, 1994b;


 As examples, the Goals 2000 legislation calls for states to involve parents and other community representatives in developing the state's educational improvement plan, which should include such strategies as increasing the access of all students to health and social services in convenient sites designed to provide "one-stop shopping" for parents and students. The Improving America's Schools Act, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), allows local districts to set aside 5 percent of ESEA funds for the coordination of services.

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