Many low-income families rely on such programs as WIC, Child Nutrition, and SNAP to help provide nutritional foods to their family. According to Stallings and Yaktine the Child Nutrition and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Reauthorization Act of 2004 required each local education agency to develop a wellness policy by 2006. These policies must include nutrition guidelines, nutrition education and physical activity goals, and other school-based activities. ( Stallings,V.A., Yaktine, A.L., 2007).
Some standards have to be followed by school districts to ensure they can serve nutritious meals in their schools. One of the criteria is that the school districts must follow only allows 35 percent of added sugars in the food. They can have 100 percent of fruits, fruit juices, vegetables, and vegetable juices in all forms without added sugars. The experts say that dairy products are exceptions to the restrictions of sugars. Some may think have this is a little bit over excessive. Healthy homemade foods can still be made to follow the required standards.
The reason why quality school lunches matter is because it can improve learning. As some studies have shown that kids who don’t get a nutritional meal at school are not able to focus and learn as well those who received better meals. There was also a study done that stated the students that got a nutritious meal showed lower rates of aggression and disciplinary problems. When lunches are prepared with fresh ingredients, it could be potentially better for the students’ overall health.
Obesity rates in schools can be a problem also, if something isn’t changed. The New England Journal of Medicine say that most 2-year-olds these days could be obese by the time they are 35. (https://foodrevolution.org/blog/school-lunch-in-america/, 2018). A 2013 study in JAMA Pediatrics showed that children residing in states with stringent nutritional standards for school meals had lower rates of obesity than those states with more lax regulations (https://foodrevolution.org/blog/school-lunch-in-america/, 2018). If students get nutritious meals through their school lunches it may be effective to reduce childhood obesity.
Low-income families may need assistance paying for school lunches, hence the need for school lunch programs. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was the first significant change to nutrition in schools in over 15 years. Schools are required to offer fruit and vegetables daily, the students are thus required to pick either a fruit, vegetable or both with each meal. Thus reduces the sodium content, only offer fat-free or low-fat milk, create grade-specific limits on total calories, and remove trans fat. Though with these improvements many experts still find that school lunches to not be enough for students. Most meals are not prepared from scratch, they are generally frozen foods that only need to be reheated. Most schools don’t use fresh fruits or vegetables in their food preparations either, which makes the food seem more unappealing.
Some ways to make school lunches better would be to start a garden and have the students take turns in each grade learn about and take care of the plants. Once the plants are fully ripened, they can use what they grew in lunch preparations. Having a garden could help the students be interactive with what they will or need to put in their bodies. Some may think that this could be a positive way to try to keep obesity out of the student’s lives.
Instead of the waste of food or students bringing in their lunches, they need to start making different food and letting the parents and students try them. A school in Ohio stated they didn’t want to see the waste of food or see high school students go off campus to buy fast food. This particular school decided to try and bring in stir-fry where there is a bunch of different vegetables and meats and let the students choose what they wanted to eat. The school also had a spice bar that offered sauces with low sodium so students could add flavor instead of eating bland food.
How to allow every educatee to be productive in school? The way to ensure every student is productive in their school work is that every student should get the same amount of time to eat their lunch. As someone who has witnessed school lunches, it seems as though students at the front of the lunch line get more time to eat than the students at the end. The students at the end of the line have less time to finish their food, thus rush through eating, which is a tie into childhood obesity.
A school in North Carolina wanted to try something new during lunch, which was to give students a hour lunch which they can use as they wish. They have seen benefits to the flexible lunch program, students have more time to participate clubs, activities and tutoring options during that time. The students loved the hour lunch period, they were able to use their personal electronics and had freedom to make choices, which lead to more individualized opportunities. Many parents might like the idea of longer lunch but not a hour that might be taking away from the students learning time.
Given this information in this essay school districts should provide more nutritional lunches to students. Thus, students and parents can work with the school district to make healthier, fresher nutritious meals. The price of lunch may go up a few cents but parents should be likely to pay if their student is getting a meal that they will enjoy. With better tasting meals and more time to enjoy them students should be productive in their school work.
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