ENG215: Research and Writing
Assignment 5: School Lunches Need a Monitor
Dr. Ephraim Okoro Germaine Hazel
June 17, 2014
In 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move campaign aimed at addressing childhood obesity (letsmove.gov). With the White House calling attention to this social issue it is clear America’s children has an eating problem. The Let’s Move campaign has three missions in achieving the goal of reducing childhood obesity. It aims to encourage healthier school lunches, better food labels and increased physical activity. The first mission of encouraging healthier school lunches is fundamental in the campaign to reduce obesity and health factors in children. In the last three decades the quality of school lunches has become less about nutrition and more about convenience. Working in the public school arena, I have witnessed a shift in the food choices for the children. In earlier times there was limited opportunity for school children to access sweets and “junk” food during the school day. Changes should be made to the regulation of foods served in public schools to offer nutritionally balanced meals and limited access to sweets and junk food; a regulatory committee should be created to insure that all schools are complying with the healthier regulations.
The Federal Government adopted the Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which addressed the snack food question in schools. The regulation limits calories, salt, sugar, and fat in foods and beverages offered at public schools. These standards represent the minimum in which schools have to comply, however state and local education authorities have the ability to adopt stronger requirements. Although the Hunger-Free Kids Act addresses the basic issue of options and standards there is still the issue of implementation. The issue of regulating school lunch has three fundamental areas of concern for society, which are health, economic and social. With these three there still remains the central issue that the USDA does not have a method to insure that the standards are being followed, some schools are unable to budget for healthier options and parents can thwart the system by sending a packed lunch. How well the adoption of healthier school lunches performs requires cooperation and education between all stakeholders, education agents, parents and students.
Problem 1: Health
In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that over one-third of children and adolescents fell in the overweight or obese categories. Ten years prior to this study it was found that over fifty percent of all adults in the United States were overweight or obese. This can be directly correlated to the number of children and adolescents who were found to be obese in 2010. These figures are alarming as obesity is a contributing factor to many health risks to include heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. This number of children categorized as overweight/obese can be attributed to the diet in which American children consume. Consider that American children consume their midday meal for nine months of the year in school. The need for these meals to be healthy is fundamental for health and academic reasons. Most children do not understand the importance of eating right and at the same time many parents do not teach or emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Schools have the opportunity to offer healthy lunches and teach the children (and parents in some cases) how to properly feed and fuel their bodies.
Problem 2: Economic
With over 50 million students in public schools the job of feeding them comes down to a question of budget of time and dollars. The National School Lunch Program was created in 1946 when there were just over 7 million public students (Federal Register, 2012). At the time of its inception the program cost $70 million annually; today the cost is over $10 billion annually (Federal