The current obesity crisis facing our youth today is the most unprecedented one in history. In the past three decades, obesity rates have gone up by over 300 percent and come with negative implications in the society, especially among children. This has exposed them to various obesity-related diseases, most of which are considered chronic. It is very tragic that the consequences of unhealthy eating can be unpreventable (Block, Scribner & DeSalvo, 2004). Both the breakfast and the lunch are the main meals that create a foundation for healthy eating according to most dieticians (Cooke, 2007). In our program, the main target will be to give our children access to healthy and affordable foods. In this paper, we will discuss how to improve the school meal program by making adjustments to their breakfast and lunch in alignment to the children’s dietary recommendations that will form a basis for improvement of nutrition and health among school-going children.
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Healthy Breakfast and Lunch Program
In implementing this program, there will definitely be a need to slightly increase the funding of the school feeding program. It is important, however, to note that this amount is significantly lower, if compared to the potential cost of medical care, if we fail to take measures to improve our children’s nutrition. There is a widespread misperception about the cost of healthy eating being high as this is not the case (White, 2007). Healthy eating can be cheap and affordable.
The lack of proper diet in children exposes them to the risk of type 2 diabetes later in their lifetime. 70 percent of the 5-17-year-old obese children have a risk of cardiovascular disease (White, 2007). They require increased offerings of nutritious food items, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and milk, with either less than 1 percent or no fat at all. Any food with excess fat, sugar or sodium should be provided in decreased offerings or, sometimes, totally cut out of the program (Block, Scribner & DeSalvo, 2004).
The program will be based on a per-meal cash reimbursement for public and all the non-profit private schools as well as residential institutions providing free and low-cost breakfast for eligible children. The reimbursable meals will meet the nutrition standards of the federal body as stipulated in our program.
Benefits of the Program
This adjustment to the structures of school food provision will help encourage, support and promote a healthy eating culture that offers a unique opportunity for children to have a supportive environment, thus aiding in their optimal growth and development. This will in turn promote better academic performance due to improved nutrition and health (Sturm, 2008).
The main problem lies in our children eating too much junk snack-like foods, chemically treated beverages, lacking for exercise and, most importantly, having too little nutritious foods in their diet. Knowing what is needed for the children, we should come up with a recommendable program for them in the form of a well-structured breakfast and lunch program that is based on a healthy eating pattern. With some adults assuming that children need to have free choices on making food selections, it is important to cultivate a culture of healthy eating in our schools. Our children are making less healthy choices selecting the food to eat. Thus, educated on what is healthy, the health status of the current generation will be improved. A healthy breakfast and lunch program will provide the children with the necessary education.
Block, J. Scribner, R., & DeSalvo, K. (2004). Fast food, race/ethnicity, and income: A geographic analysis. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 27(3), 211-217.
as little as 3 hours
Cooke, L. (2007). The importance of exposure for healthy eating in childhood: a review. British Dietetic Association Ltd, 20, 294-301.
Sturm, R. (2008). Disparities in the food environment surrounding US middle and high schools. Public Health, 122(7), 681-690.
White, M. (2007). Food access and obesity. Obesity Reviews, 8 Supplement 1, 99-107.