Nutrition Concerns Within The Education System Essays Example
Schools have often had many challenges when it comes to putting together menus that are nutritious and meet all the varying needs of students. There are many factors to be considered such as keeping menu prices cost-effective and providing meals that are visually appealing and tasty.
Most schools have breakfast and lunch programs in which many students participate in. All the more reason why “the type foods eaten at school can drastically impact a child’s nutritional status” (Ballard, 2013). This can have both positive and negative effects. Couple that with the staggering reality that for some children, meals eaten at school are the only meals they get on a daily basis. Poverty among school-age children is alarming. According to FeedingAmerica.org, “In 2013, 14.7 million (19.9 percent) children under the age of 18 were in poverty”. Additionally, approximately 17.5 million households did not have enough food to eat and 6 percent of overall households had even lesser to no food to eat.
Schools have become all too aware of this critical need within society. Research and studies have shown if children do not receive adequate nutrition, it has a direct impact on how they function throughout the day. Thus, schools work very hard to provide meals that are balanced and nutritious. Many children receive meals at school through a federal program called National School Lunch Program (NSLP). This program provides to children free or reduced lunched. It operates in over 100K schools and daycares. It was estimated that in 2011, over 31 million children received these meals. Another active federal program is the School Breakfast Program (SBP). It works similarly and provides breakfast in over 89,000 schools nationally.
In 2010, legislation was enacted in favor of curbing hunger among children. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act implemented revised nutritional standards requiring schools to meet these needs. These standards were drawn in large part from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which centers on providing a good balance of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that must be integrated within school menus.
The leaders who implement and head school lunch programs have become a voice as to the real issues that continue to be a factor. Some of these issues are “childhood obesity, the decline of youthful eating habits, and the appropriate role of schools in raising a healthier generation of American children” (Hayes & Berdan, 2013). In many cases, the most nutritious meals children have on a daily basis is what they are receiving while at school. Because schools cannot control what children consume outside of school or if they are in fact, being fed, all the more reasons why this issue has become an important one for schools to address.
Perhaps the greatest health concern for children is childhood obesity. Schools have been instrumental in tackling this issue head-on. This is achieved through raising awareness and educating the public as to the risk factors and ways to address it. Many schools have made health and wellness approaches a priority on the same level as educating its students. This is being accomplished through great leadership at the helm, teamwork and collaboration. One of the ways this is achieved is through physical education programs. Not only are students getting the required exercise needed each school day but they are being educated as to why exercise is so important to daily living. Schools have tackled nutrition, health and wellness by adopting the philosophy that “school wellness is not just about improving the health of our kids, it has to involve the entire school community” (Bisceglie, 2008). This approach bridges the gaps between schools and families to reduce childhood obesity.
As health and nutrition have become a core focus for schools working with families and communities, many opportunities have presented themselves for the betterment of all. On the school level, many schools are using fresh fruits and vegetables and cooking meals from scratch. By doing so, they are able to limit the amount of sodium and other additives that are commonly found in pre-packaged and prepared foods. In 2010, Michelle Obama implemented the Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools program in which chefs would go into schools and work with food service personnel in preparing and cooking nutritional meals. Schools are also working with local farms to purchase fruits and vegetables.
Another avenue that schools have taken is promotion of its meals and their nutritional value to enhance appeal of food items. Some of their marketing efforts have included the incorporation of popular children’s characters which has been found to have “a profound influence on kids choosing the branded item” (Hayes & Berdan, 2013).
One of the most popular, innovative ideas schools have recently implemented is creating school gardens with serves many different purposes. It enables them to grow their own fruits and vegetables to minimize costs. Students and teachers work together to plant, grow, and maintain gardens providing a collaborative interest in growing what students eat as well as offering educational opportunities that spans different subjects and learning outcomes.
Outside of producing well-educated students, schools have been charged with the task of instituting policies that “promote healthy lifestyles and create healthy campus environments” (Hayes & Berdan, 2013). How this is being achieved is through many different federally mandated programs. One such program is The Coordinated School Health Model. This program was created and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Schools use this program in part or in whole to create a comprehensive plan to combine health and nutrition for optimal wellness among its students. Not all schools are on board with this program because many had previously integrated their own nutritional, health-based programs following federal guidelines as markers.
In order for nutrition to be most effective to meet children’s needs, it must first begin with proper education of the entire family. This can be achieved by teaching families “to adapt traditional cooking to healthier ingredients” (Wilson, 2014), and describing why proper eating habits is so critical to overall health. Research has shown that teaching parents will be the key to successful nutrition outcomes in this way. As with anything related to children, it must first begin at home because schools cannot and should not be expected to do it all.
Poverty at the school-age level should not exist in American life. With all the vast resources and educational opportunities available, it would seem realistic that this problem should not exist. To the contrary, it is a stark reality and schools have stepped up to go over and beyond what is required for the sake of positive outcomes for students beyond education itself. Without proper nutrition, students struggle to achieve these outcomes. Outside of the school setting, many families do not have adequate food supplies resulting in poor nutrition. While school efforts may not solve these problems as a whole, it plays a huge role in ensuring children do not go hungry and are receiving the required nutritional values required. Schools have a vested interest in our children’s overall success and its efforts to ensure that are making all the difference.
Ballard, K. T. (2013). Improved nutrition through school food programs. Pediatric Annals, 42(9), 376-378. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3928/00904481-20130823-12
Bisceglie, R. (2008). Combating Childhood Obesity. Principal, 88(1), 34-37. Retrieved from http://www.naesp.org/resources/1/Principal/2008/S-O_p34.pdf
Hayes, D., & Berdan, G. (2013). School nutrition programs: Challenges and opportunities. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine,7(5), 333-340. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1605/01.301-0024942871.2013
Wilson, D. R. (2014). Nutrition. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 29(3), 4. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA378248857&v=2.1&u=vic_liberty&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=540e6d68360668bfa43b062710258632