School cafeteria food that is offered to children is not always the best tasting food that has been made. Cafeteria workers have to follow a food pyramid that allows children to obtain recommend food choices and daily calorie intake. School meal planning is used for a healthy and positive influence on the choices of foods children’s have to choose from. The government should impose restrictions on what kinds of foods are being served in the school system. Studies have shown there are many benefits of schools providing healthy meals to children. Some include obtaining key nutrients, energy level, improvement of grades, behavioral problems, illnesses, and obesity rates among young American children. Maintaining a healthy diet it leads you to endless possibilities of a long better life.
School lunches today for many years now have always been a source of controversy. In the 1900s school lunches were not provided to children. They would go home every day for the meal or run to a nearby gas station; then, return back to school. Then in 1912 school lunches were starting to be offered along with a federally supported program that was implemented for students that were eligible if the household income was within the recommended requirement. This program has allowed more children to have a regular meal during the school week. Over the years fast food operations started to rise and school districts started to offer foods that were not within federal nutrition standards. School meals had tilted toward processed foods high in fat, sugar, and sodium (Para. 8). Obesity rates started to rise among children due to food choices that were being provided. In 2010, President Obama signed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, a politically contentious bill that required officials to revamp the federal lunch program nutrition standards (Para. 13). Everything change from this day on.
Since the program has been implemented food options have changed in what can be served. Vending machines that offered food and drinks were removed from schools because students may chose them instead of a balanced nutritional meal. Today in school cafeterias they are very particular in what is offered daily. Meals include protein-rich foods including fresh meat, poultry meat, cheese, cooked fish, dry peas, bean, soy beans, peanut butter, eggs, vegetable, fruit, whole grain bread/cereal, and many more. Most foods are baked rather than fried. Serving amounts are implemented on food options depending on what food it may be. Section 9 of the Act states, “Lunches served by schools participating in the school lunch program under this Act shall meet minimum nutritional requirements prescribed by the Secretary on the basis of tested nutritional research” (Para. 13). A healthy school lunch for the day includes half plate with either fruits or vegetables that is full of a different range of colors. Also, eating more whole grain and excess avoiding sodium intake. With these changes schools have seen multiple positive effects.
On a daily basis every child should be eating a certain amount of nutrients that help the body in multiple different way. Nutrients they should be eating are protein, carbohydrates, fats, calcium, iron, folate, and vitamin A/C. Protein helps break down food into energy and carry oxygen. Foods that are high in protein include: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, and dairy products. Carbohydrates are a source of energy and provide protein for building and repairing tissue. Foods that are high in carbohydrates include: breads, cereal, rice, pasta, and potatoes. Fats are as a source of energy and help in the use of other nutrients. Foods that are high in fats include: whole-milk dairy products, cooking oil, meat, fish, and nuts. Calcium is used to build healthy bones and teeth. Foods that are high in calcium include: milk, cheese, yogurt, broccoli, spinach, and tofu. Iron is used to build healthy blood to carry oxygen to the body. Food that is high in calcium include: red meat, poultry, shellfish, whole grains, beans, and nuts. Folate is used for the development of cells. Food that is high in folate include: whole-grain cereals, asparagus, spinach, black/kidney beans, and brussel sprouts. Vitamin A/C helps in the growth of the body. Foods that are high in vitamins include: carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, apricots, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, mangos, papayas, and more.
Eating these daily nutrients that are offered in school lunches have been found to increase childrens energy level and overall school grades. Children who eat a healthy diet, stay alert during class, fight off illnesses, and grow into strong, healthy adults (Para. 1). Studies have been shown on schools that provide healthier school lunches perform better on test then other schools that do not offer healthy meals. On average, student test scores are 0.03 to 0.04 standard deviations higher, four percentile points (Para. 6). School meals provide children with fuel that is used in increasing there energy level so they are able to perform there very best and obtain the grade they are capable of. Students that have, Mental and behavioral problems can be traced back to unhealthy nutrition and poor eating habits (Para. 18). Children that maintain proper nutrition have a positive effect on their overall ability of school.
Indirect effects of poor nutrition can occur in children and become detrimental to children overtime. Malnutrition is a problem in younger children and can cause growth failure affects. Performance shows, Students with unhealthy lifestyles are far more likely to become sick. These illnesses then have an effect on the amount of class time missed. By not attending classes, students are much more likely to fall behind. And when they are in class, they are more likely to have little energy and to have concentration issues (Para. 21). School can be often stressful for most student and when you maintain a unhealthy diet it is likely to make the stress worse. School is a key part in the development of your life and school lunches are a key part in the school system. They have a daily impact on the well-being of students both inside and outside of school (Para. 22).
Children need healthy food. But with the current U.S. food system this makes it harder to ensure children get the correct nutrient in order to grow up as healthy adults. Obesity is excess body fat and your body mass index (BMI) is a screening tool for measurement. Obesity rates among children nearly tripled between 1970 and 2000 (Para. 10). Data from 2015-2016 show that nearly 1 in 5 school age children and young people (6 to 19 years) in the United States has obesity (Para. 1). Today approximately 16% of America’s youth are classified as obese (Para. 10). Childhood obesity is a key factor in low-income families, poor health children, and not attending school. Children consume about half of their daily calories at school; for low-income children, school lunch may be their only real meal of the day (Para. 6). Serving healthy choices in the lunchroom, limiting availability and marketing of unhealthful foods and sugary drinks, and making water available to students throughout the day are some of the ways that schools can help prevent obesity (Para. 8). After policies were put in place to improve school lunches, obesity rates significantly slowed among all schools (Para. 6). School lunches are used in order to make this change to provide a positive restriction on lifelong healthy eating habits. Besides healthy habits they are shown to have many other positive effects. Childhood obesity has immediate and long-term effects on the well-being including: physical, social, and emotional health. Children with obesity are at higher risk of having other chronic health conditions. They are bullied and teased more than their normal weight peers and are more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem (Para. 6).
Children consume half of their daily calories at school, having a healthy snack or meal that is offered is a must. Children have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes if they are overweight or have obesity, have a family history of diabetes, or are not active. Children who are African American, Hispanic, Native American/Alaska Native, Asian American, or Pacific Islander also have a higher risk (Para. 3). Type 2 diabetes used to be unheard of in children, but rates have been climbing in recent years: By 2050, the number of people under age 20 in the U.S. with the disease is expected to almost quadruple (Para. 1). Ensuring that kids are learning healthy habits early in life is crucial to decrease these horribly high trending rates in diseases. In order to lower the risk of diabetes it is important to maintain healthy portion meals while at school and ensure you are also getting physical activity.
Besides the help of schools promoting healthy meals we also need parents on board with this issue. Nearly all school meal programs”more than 98 percent”serve lunches that meet national nutrition standards, but decisions about the menu, snack programs, food-based fundraising policies, and other issues are made by school nutrition staff or other district leaders (Para. 6). Teachers know that school lunches are a key part of the school system (Para. 12). Parents can reinforce the healthy changes that need to be made in children. In order to get involved learn about healthier choices in children and make sure these standards are being met daily.
Everyone’s opinion regarding this widely controversial debate on school lunches is different. But regardless of your standing, We can all agree on the importance of their original role: a means to make sure children are well fed and healthy, so they can grow and learn and better the nation (Para. 14). Whether it’s a school meal from the cafeteria or a packed lunch from home it is important to consume a healthy meal. Improving school lunches has shown to promote a healthy weight among students along with improving grades, behavioral, mental health, boost energy, and decrease disease rates that have been rising among children in the U.S. The government imposing restrictions on what kinds of foods can be served in school cafeterias has shown to have a positive influence in children overall.
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