School dinner programs: Trying to reduce the number of hungry children

28 Jan

There are some very good reasons why meals are provided at schools. Education Bug has a history of the school lunch program

President Harry S. Truman began the national school lunch program in 1946 as a measure of national security. He did so after reading a study that revealed many young men had been rejected from the World War II draft due to medical conditions caused by childhood malnutrition. Since that time more than 180 million lunches have been served to American children who attend either a public school or a non-profit private school.

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson extended the program by offering breakfast to school children. It began as a two years pilot program for children in rural areas and those living in poorer neighborhoods. It was believed that these children would have to skip breakfast in order to catch the bus for the long ride to school. There were also concerns that the poorer families could not always afford to feed their children breakfast. Johnson believed, like many of us today, that children would do better in school if they had a good breakfast to start their day. The pilot was such a success that it was decided the program should continue. By 1975, breakfast was being offered to all children in public or non-profit private school. This change was made because educators felt that more children were skipping breakfast due to both parent being in the workforce.

In 1968, a summer meals program was offered to low income children. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks are still available to students each year, during the summer break. Any child in need can apply for the program at the end of the school year. Parents that are interested in the summer meals program should contact their local school administration.

Since its inception, the school lunch/meals programs have become available in more than 98,800 schools….

Hungry children have more difficulty in focusing and paying attention, their ability to learn is impacted. President Truman saw feeding hungry children as a key part of the national defense.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (Agriculture Department) has a School Lunch Program Fact Sheet According to the fact sheet, more than 30 million children are fed by the program. Physicians for Responsible Medicine criticize the content of school lunch programs. In Healthy School Lunches the physicians group says:         

Menus in most school lunch programs are too high in saturated fat and cholesterol and too low in fiber- and nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (see PCRM’s 2008 School Lunch Report Card). Major changes are needed to encourage the health of the nation’s youth and to reverse the growing trends of obesity, early-onset diabetes, and hypertension, among other chronic diseases, in children and teens.        

A 2003 General Accounting Office (GAO) reached the same conclusion. See, School Lunch Program: Efforts Needed to Improve Nutrition and Encourage and Healthy Eating

Nirvi Shah is reporting in the Education Week article, After-School Programs’ Newest Activity: Supper:

At some schools and community centers across the country, baked chicken, steamed broccoli, apple slices, whole-wheat rolls, and milk are on the menu—but not just at lunch.

While breakfast and lunch programs have long been a common part of the school day, all states now have the opportunity to serve students free after-school suppers, too, with the money for the meals coming from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A few states have offered supperRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader for years as part of a pilot program, but the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids ActRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which passed late that year, expanded the program, allowing all qualifying after-school programs to take part and get paid by the USDA for the suppers they serve. In 2011, tens of thousands more suppers were served at a time when child poverty is on the rise—although getting programs started can be an undertaking that many child-care centers and after-school sites, especially those located apart from schools, aren’t equipped to handle.

For many of the students who eat those meals, food outside of school breakfasts and lunches is scarce, said Lois Hazelton of the New York Department of Health, who oversees the program in her state. It was one of the first states eligible to serve supper, starting about 10 years ago.

“We knew that there were kids out there who were going home to potentially no supper, or not enough supper, or not a nutritious supper,” Ms. Hazelton said. On average, she added, 140,000 students eat free suppers every day in her state through the USDA program.

‘Safety Net’ for Families

USDA research found that in 2010, an average of one in six Americans had difficulty finding enough money to buy food…

The best way to eliminate poverty is job creation, job growth, and job retention. The Asian Development Bank has the best concise synopsis of the link between Education and Poverty For a good article about education and poverty which has a good bibliography, go to Poverty and Education, Overview

Christina Silva writes in the Huffington Post article 1 in 5 U.S. Children Lives in Poverty

“People who grew up in a financially secure situation find it easier to succeed in life, they are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to graduate from college and these are things that will lead to greater success in life,” said Stephen Brown, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “What we are looking at is a cohort of kids who as they become adults may be less able to contribute to the growth of the economy. It could go on for multiple generations.”

The annual survey monitored by policy makers across the nation concludes that children from low-income families are more likely to be raised in unstable environments and change schools than their wealthier peers. As a result, they are less likely to be gainfully employed as adults.

There are other social costs. Economically disadvantaged children can result in reduced economic output, higher health expenditures and increased criminal justice costs for society, the survey concludes. The research is based on data from many sources, including the Mortgage Bankers Association, National Delinquency Survey and U.S. Census Bureau.

“Even if you don’t care about kids and all you care about is your own well-being, then you ought to be concerned,” said Patrick McCarthy, president of the Baltimore, Md.-based charity. “… We’ve got to think about what kind of state, what kind of country we can expect to have if we are not investing in the success of our children.”

See, The government that money buys: School lunch cave in by Congress

 The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty, and all forms of human life.
John F. Kennedy

In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.


Keeping our children healthy, hunger-free By Dr. Joe Thompson

Hunger in America: 2011 United States Hunger and Poverty Fact, World Hunger Education Service

Congress Pushes Back On Healthier School Lunches, Fights To Keep Pizza And Fries by           Mary Clare Jalonick                                                                               

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

5 Responses to “School dinner programs: Trying to reduce the number of hungry children”


  1. The Healthy Schools Coalition fights for school-based efforts to combat obesity « drwilda - May 12, 2012

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  2. Report: Obesity is a public health issue « drwilda - June 6, 2012

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  3. Do kids get enough time to eat lunch? « drwilda - August 28, 2012

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  4. USDA revises school lunch guidelines to include more meat and grains « drwilda - December 12, 2012

    […] Hungry children have more difficulty in focusing and paying attention, their ability to learn is impacted. President Truman saw feeding hungry children as a key part of the national defense. […]

  5. House politics attempt to intervene in school lunch program | drwilda - May 21, 2013

    […] Hungry children have more difficulty in focusing and paying attention, their ability to learn is impacted. President Truman saw feeding hungry children as a key part of the national defense. […]

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