But several schools have recognized that more than a child's health is on the line, and that a better lunch may spell better grades.
Melrose Elementary School in Tampa, Fla., transformed their cafeteria into the "Melrose Diner." The school painted murals on the walls, set the tables with tablecloths and flowers and added a sound-activated stop light.
The stop light changes when the noise in the cafeteria goes above acceptable levels. These days the light is rarely red and the calm in the lunchroom has spilled over into the classroom.
"Boys and girls, the light's on yellow, watch your voice level," the stop light warned.
Susan Graham, Melrose's principal, said discipline referrals in the last three years have decreased 50 percent. "Now with this kind of ambience and atmosphere our parent involvement is up 30 percent," she said.
"We get a lot more done, I think it's a lot more efficient work environment for all of us," Graham said. "We have happier students and happier teachers and much happier principals."