If you go by dollars and cents, it would be feeding. The second-largest item in most school budgets is the cafeteria program.
Some districts have none, and so parents end up packing lunches. Research shows that a lot of districts which do serve meals tend to lose money on them. That's one reason why Philadelphia's Aramark Corporation is a growing player in the school nutrition market.
Aramark serves lunch and even breakfast in schools coast-to-coast. Their Cool Caf program aims to meet or exceed applicable nutrition regulations while making meals fun for kids on the go.
Senior vice-president Michael Pursell told Action News a typical student gets just 23 minutes for lunch nowadays, and much of that time is spent not actually eating.
The challenge is to serve meals that fit the time frame while being attractive and interesting enough that kids will choose to eat them.
Aramark succeeds in part by offering an array of fresh fruits and vegetables...of growing importance to kids, we're told.
Regulations have outlawed fried foods and high-fat items for years, but school lunch programs offer alternatives that meet the rules while giving kids the tastes they prefer.
Aramark, for example, makes a pizza product with low-fat cheese in a whole wheat crust. It's served rolled up, which makes it portable.
There are also salads, and dessert-like yogurt products kids like. Aramark has scored high enough in its programs that first lady Michelle Obama sought their input on nutrition programs she's advocating.For more information visit their website at Cool Caf.