Tag Archives: Hunger

University of Texas study: Researchers link childhood hunger, violence later in life

26 Jun

For a really good discussion of the effects of poverty on children, read the American Psychological Association (APA), Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth:

What are the effects of child poverty?
• Psychological research has demonstrated that living in poverty has a wide range of negative effects on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our nation’s children.
• Poverty impacts children within their various contexts at home, in school, and in their neighborhoods and communities.
• Poverty is linked with negative conditions such as substandard housing, homelessness, inadequate nutrition and food insecurity, inadequate child care, lack of access to health care, unsafe neighborhoods, and underresourced schools which adversely impact our nation’s children.
• Poorer children and teens are also at greater risk for several negative outcomes such as poor academic achievement, school dropout, abuse and neglect, behavioral and socioemotional problems, physical health problems, and developmental delays.
• These effects are compounded by the barriers children and their families encounter when trying to access physical and mental health care.
• Economists estimate that child poverty costs the U.S. $500 billion a year in lost productivity in the work force and spending on health care and the criminal justice system.
Poverty and academic achievement
• Poverty has a particularly adverse effect on the academic outcomes of children, especially during early childhood.
• Chronic stress associated with living in poverty has been shown to adversely affect children’s concentration and memory which may impact their ability to learn.
• School drop out rates are significantly higher for teens residing in poorer communities. In 2007, the dropout rate of students living in low-income families was about 10 times greater than the rate of their peers from high-income families (8.8% vs. 0.9%).
• The academic achievement gap for poorer youth is particularly pronounced for low-income African American and Hispanic children compared with their more affluent White peers.
• Underresourced schools in poorer communities struggle to meet the learning needs of their students and aid them in fulfilling their potential.
• Inadequate education contributes to the cycle of poverty by making it more difficult for low-income children to lift themselves and future generations out of poverty. http://www.apa.org/pi/families/poverty.aspx

Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of society’s problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family.

Science Daily reported in Researchers link childhood hunger, violence later in life:

Children who often go hungry have a greater risk of developing impulse control problems and engaging in violence, according to new UT Dallas research.

The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that people who experienced frequent hunger as kids were more than twice as likely to exhibit impulsivity and injure others intentionally as adolescents and adults.

Thirty-seven percent of the study’s participants who had frequent hunger as children reported that they had been involved in interpersonal violence. Of those who experienced little to no childhood hunger, 15 percent said they were involved in interpersonal violence. The findings were strongest among whites, Hispanics and males.

Previous research has shown that childhood hunger contributes to a variety of other negative outcomes, including poor academic performance. The study is among the first to find a correlation between childhood hunger, low self-control and interpersonal violence….

Researchers used data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions to examine the relationship between childhood hunger, impulsivity and interpersonal violence. Participants in that study responded to a variety of questions including how often they went hungry as a child, whether they have problems controlling their temper, and if they had physically injured another person on purpose.

More than 15 million U.S. children face food insecurity — not having regular access to adequate nutrition, according to the study. Piquero said the results highlight the importance of addressing communities known as food deserts that have little access to grocery stores with healthy food choices.

The findings suggest that strategies aimed at alleviating hunger may also help reduce violence, Piquero said….                                                                                                                                                                  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160620161140.htm

Citation:

Researchers link childhood hunger, violence later in life

Date:         June 20, 2016

Source:     University of Texas at Dallas

Summary:

Children who often go hungry have a greater risk of developing impulse control problems and engaging in violence, according to new research.

Journal Reference:

  1. Michael Vaughn, Christopher Salas-Wright, Sandra Naeger, Jin Huang, Alex Piquero. Childhood Reports of Food Neglect and Impulse Control Problems and Violence in Adulthood. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2016; 13 (4): 389 DOI: 10.3390/ijerph13040389

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…. http://www.educationbug.org/a/the-history-of-the-school-lunch-program.html

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. For many children who receive a free breakfast and/or a free lunch that means that they will not go hungry that day.

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House politics attempt to intervene in school lunch program

21 May

Moi wrote about the school lunch program in School dinner programs: Trying to reduce the number of hungry children:

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. https://drwilda.com/2012/01/28/school-dinner-programs-trying-to-reduce-the-number-of-hungry-children/

Nirvi Shah reports in the Education Week article, U.S. House Offers Not-So-Fresh Version of Fruit and Vegetable Program:

For at least the second time, a U.S. House of Representatives committee is offering a version of the massive farm bill that would dramatically change a snack program that is intended to develop a taste for fresh produce in children from low-income families.

In the version of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act marked up by the House Agriculture Committee this week, the word “fresh” is stricken from language about the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

The program, created 11 years ago, provides snack-sized servings of fresh fruits and vegetables to children in high-poverty schools, children who are the least likely to be exposed to these items outside of school. (Fresh produce can cost far more than dried, canned, or frozen versions, and more than fried, salty, and sugary snacks.) The theory is that, by introducing the items to children, they will develop a taste for them, making them lifelong consumers of items like kale, carrots, and cantaloupe.

One recent study showed that kids at schools with the program actually do eat more fruits and vegetables.

“This is targeted at children most likely not to have access to fresh items,” said Kristy Anderson, the government relations manager for the American Heart Association. Her organization supports serving children other forms of fruits and vegetables—canned, frozen, and dried—at school meals, but it wants to see the integrity of this program remain intact.

“This could open doors to a whole cadre of things that aren’t even fruits and vegetables,” Anderson told me.

She said it would only take the creativity of food engineers to change the program completely. Sugary fruit snacks, high-calorie trail mix, and even fruit-based candy could end up in the program if it’s changed. “I’m sure somebody out there could figure that out.”

Why change the program? It’s worth about $150 million per year—a lot of money over the five-year life span of the farm bill—and could open up a new market for frozen, canned, and dried fruit and vegetable companies, and possibly others in the food industry.

I talked to some schools about the possibility of this change when it came up last year, and they didn’t like it.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/2013/05/us_house_serves_up_not-so-fresh_fruit_vegetable_program.html

Moi wrote about the politics of the school lunch program in The government that money buys: School lunch cave in by Congress:

There is the saying that “we have the best government that money could buy. We don’t. We have the government that money interests will allow. Moi recently discussed the political wrangling about school lunches in the post, School lunches: The political hot potato https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/school-lunches-the-political-hot-potato/ The World Hunger Education Service describes why nutritious school food is so important in the article, Hunger in America: 2011 United States Hunger and Poverty Facts:

Hunger

Fifty-five percent of  food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest Federal food and nutrition assistance programs ( USDA 2008, p. iv.) The programs are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the new name for the food stamp program (Wikipedia 2010), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) (Wikipedia 2010), and the National School Lunch Program (Wikipedia 2010).

SNAP/Food stamps  The Food Stamp Program, the nation’s most important anti-hunger program, helps roughly 40 million low-income Americans to afford a nutritionally adequate diet. More than 75 percent of all food stamp participants are in families with children; nearly one-third of participants are elderly people or people with disabilities.  Unlike most means-tested benefit programs, which are restricted to particular categories of low-income individuals, the Food Stamp Program is broadly available to almost all households with low incomes. Under federal rules, to qualify for food stamps, a household must meet three criteria (some states have raised these limits)….

National School Lunch Program The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program that provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children from low income families, reaching 30.5 million children in 2008.  Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals, for which students can be charged no more than 40 cents. (For the period July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, 130 percent of the poverty level is $28,665 for a family of four; 185 percent is $40,793.) Children from families with incomes over 185 percent of poverty pay a full price, though their meals are still subsidized to some extent by the program. Program cost was $9.3 billion in 2008. (USDASchool Lunch Program)

http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/us_hunger_facts.htm

Ron Nixon reports on the weasels in Congress who backed down on new rules which would provide more nutritious meals for school children. Many of these children rely on school breakfasts and/or lunches as their primary source of nutrition for the day. In the New York Times article, Congress Blocks New Rules on School Lunches, Nixon reports:

A slice of pizza still counts as a vegetable.

In a victory for the makers of frozen pizzas, tomato paste and French fries, Congress on Monday blocked rules proposed by the Agriculture Department that would have overhauled the nation’s school lunch program.

The proposed changes — the first in 15 years to the $11 billion school lunch program — were meant to reduce childhood obesity by adding more fruits and green vegetables to lunch menus, Agriculture Department officials said. 

The rules, proposed last January, would have cut the amount of potatoes served and would have changed the way schools received credit for serving vegetables by continuing to count tomato paste on a slice of pizza only if more than a quarter-cup of it was used. The rules would have also halved the amount of sodium in school meals over the next 10 years.

But late Monday, lawmakers drafting a House and Senate compromise for the agriculture spending bill blocked the department from using money to carry out any of the proposed rules.

In a statement, the Agriculture Department expressed its disappointment with the decision.

While it is unfortunate that some in Congress chose to bow to special interests, U.S.D.A. remains committed to practical, science-based standards for school meals that improve the health of our children,” the department said in the statement.

Food companies including ConAgra, Coca-Cola, Del Monte Foods and makers of frozen pizza like Schwan argued that the proposed rules would raise the cost of meals and require food that many children would throw away.

The companies called the Congressional response reasonable, adding that the Agriculture Department went too far in trying to improve nutrition in school lunches.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/16/us/politics/congress-blocks-new-rules-on-school-lunches.html?hpw

Unfortunately, the lobbyists won this battle against the interests of children.

For an incisive analysis of the school lunch lobby read  The School Lunch Lobby  by Ron Haskins  which was published in Education Next http://educationnext.org/the-school-lunch-lobby/

https://drwilda.com/2011/11/16/the-government-that-money-buys-school-lunch-cave-in-by-congress/

Related:

School dinner programs: Trying to reduce the number of hungry children                                                      https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/school-dinner-programs-trying-to-reduce-the-number-of-hungry-children/

School lunches: The political hot potato                       https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/school-lunches-the-political-hot-potato/

The government that money buys: School lunch cave in by Congresshttps://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/the-government-that-money-buys-school-lunch-cave-in-by-congress/

Do kids get enough time to eat lunch?                                     https://drwilda.com/2012/08/28/do-kids-get-enough-time-to-eat-lunch/

Where information leads to Hope. ©                               Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©                      http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                             http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                                                https://drwilda.com/

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Report: Improving access to school lunches

9 Sep

In School lunches: The political hot potato, moi said:

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.

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

The school lunch program is crucial for the nutritional well-being of many children. Catholic Online is reporting in the article, Nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population was on food stamps for month of August:

It was a harsh indicator of hard times here in the United States. Nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population relied on food stamps for the month of August, as the number of recipients hit 45.8 million. Food stamp rolls have risen 8.1 percent in the past year. The Department of Agriculture reported these startling new figures, that fly in face that the pace of growth has slowed from the depths of the recession….

Mississippi reported the largest share of food stamps recipients, more than 21 percent. One in five residents in New Mexico, Tennessee, Oregon and Louisiana were also food stamp recipients.

http://www.catholic.org/business/story.php?id=43506

For many children who receive a free breakfast and/or a free lunch that means that they will not go hungry that day. See, Taking the Congressional Food Stamp Challenge [UPDATED] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-jan-schakowsky/taking-the-congressional_b_1072739.html

Education is the key for moving individuals, families, and communities out of poverty. In an ideal world, children would arrive at school ready-to-learn. Children who are hunger have a much more difficult time focusing in school. For a really good discussion of the effects of poverty on children, read the American Psychological Association (APA), Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth:

What are the effects of child poverty?

  • Psychological research has demonstrated that living in poverty has a wide range of negative effects on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our nation’s children.

  • Poverty impacts children within their various contexts at home, in school, and in their neighborhoods and communities.

  • Poverty is linked with negative conditions such as substandard housing, homelessness, inadequate nutrition and food insecurity, inadequate child care, lack of access to health care, unsafe neighborhoods, and underresourced schools which adversely impact our nation’s children.

  • Poorer children and teens are also at greater risk for several negative outcomes such as poor academic achievement, school dropout, abuse and neglect, behavioral and socioemotional problems, physical health problems, and developmental delays.

  • These effects are compounded by the barriers children and their families encounter when trying to access physical and mental health care.

  • Economists estimate that child poverty costs the U.S. $500 billion a year in lost productivity in the work force and spending on health care and the criminal justice system.

Poverty and academic achievement

  • Poverty has a particularly adverse effect on the academic outcomes of children, especially during early childhood.

  • Chronic stress associated with living in poverty has been shown to adversely affect children’s concentration and memory which may impact their ability to learn.

  • School drop out rates are significantly higher for teens residing in poorer communities. In 2007, the dropout rate of students living in low-income families was about 10 times greater than the rate of their peers from high-income families (8.8% vs. 0.9%).

  • The academic achievement gap for poorer youth is particularly pronounced for low-income African American and Hispanic children compared with their more affluent White peers.

  • Underresourced schools in poorer communities struggle to meet the learning needs of their students and aid them in fulfilling their potential.

  • Inadequate education contributes to the cycle of poverty by making it more difficult for low-income children to lift themselves and future generations out of poverty. http://www.apa.org/pi/families/poverty.aspx

    https://drwilda.com/2011/11/03/school-lunches-the-political-hot-potato/

Unfortunately, not all eligible children are part of the school lunch program.

Nate Frentz and Zoë Neuberger write in the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Report, Key Steps to Improve Access to Free and Reduced-Price School Meals:

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a well-established federal program that provides school children with a nutritious lunch every school day.  In recent years, free and reduced-price school breakfasts and lunches have been especially beneficial for children from low-income families that are struggling to afford nutritious food in the midst of a severe economic downturn.  The program is also a reliable source of nutritional support for particularly vulnerable children, such as children in foster care or who are homeless, runaway, or migrant, all of whom are automatically eligible for free meals in school.  

The school lunch program has a strong track record of serving eligible children; children in households with income at or below 130 percent of the poverty line are eligible for free meals and children in households at or below 185 percent of the poverty line are eligible for reduced-price meals.  But some eligible low-income children still miss out on meals that could foster healthy development and learning.  Thanks in part to policy changes in recent years, school meal programs have made gradual progress in simplifying the enrollment process with the goal of reaching more eligible children.  Still, some families are unaware of the program or face other barriers to participation such as complex forms or limited English proficiency.  Even among children who are eligible for free school meals without having to apply, as many as one in seven fail to receive certification.[1]

State and local program administrators can take steps to improve program access for eligible children in several key areas.  This paper highlights helpful resources and describes six key opportunities for advocates and program administrators to ensure that all eligible children are certified quickly and easily for free or reduced-price school meals:

  • Reaching more children in households receiving SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) by improving direct certification data matching
  • Reaching eligible children who receive other means-tested public benefits by expanding direct certification data matching
  • Reaching children in foster care and homeless, migrant, and runaway children by strengthening processes to directly certify them
  • Eliminating access barriers by simplifying applications and subsequent communications
  • Ensuring year-long enrollment by retaining eligible children throughout the school year
  • Providing free meals to all children in high-poverty schools by utilizing the new community eligibility option

State and local administrators and advocates can use this paper to identify access barriers in their schools and take steps to eliminate them during the coming school year.  By planning ahead, they also can make more substantial changes for future years.  A checklist of key steps to consider is followed by more detailed descriptions of each.

Checklist of Steps to Improve Program Access

To Improve Direct Certification for Children in Households Receiving SNAP Benefits
  • Regularly assess progress toward reaching all children in households receiving SNAP benefits
  • Refine the data matching process
  • Use any available data to reach all children in the household
  • Conduct matches as often as possible and develop the capacity to look up individual children
  • Regularly provide training and guidance for staff
To Expand Direct Certification for Children Receiving Other Means-tested Benefits
  • Apply to participate in the Medicaid direct certification demonstration project
  • Strengthen direct certification for children in households receiving TANF cash assistance or FDPIR benefits
To Strengthen Direct Certification for Children in Foster Care and Homeless, Migrant, and Runaway Children
  • Use data from the state or local child welfare agency to directly certify children in foster care
  • Use the automatic notification a school receives when a child enters foster care or changes foster homes as the basis for direct certification
  • Strengthen the direct certification process for homeless, migrant, and runaway children who have been identified by appropriate officials
  • Complete an application on behalf of an individual child — especially an unaccompanied youth — who is known to be eligible, but whose family has not applied
To Simplify Applications and Encourage Eligible Families to Apply
  • Provide materials in a language and at a level that parents can understand
  • Ask only for information necessary to determine eligibility
  • Reduce the potential for applicants to make calculation errors
  • Include school meals information in routine contacts with families and communities throughout the school year to encourage newly eligible families to apply
To Retain Eligible Children Throughout the School Year
  • Eliminate temporary approvals
  • For children who enroll during the school year, rely on the previous eligibility determination if it can be obtained promptly or conduct a new certification — using direct certification or a new application
  • Conduct direct verification
  • For applications that cannot be directly verified, accept the least burdensome form of reliable documentation and clearly explain to parents what they must provide
To Utilize the Community Eligibility Option
  • Apply to USDA to implement community eligibility during the 2013-2014 school year
  • For subsequent school years, implement community eligibility in schools or districts that serve predominantly low-income students

Related

Related Areas of Research

PDF of this report (22pp.) http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3826

See, School Lunches: Report Outlines Steps To Streamline Access To Free And Reduced-Price Meals For Eligible Children http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/06/report-outlines-steps-to-_n_1862392.html?utm_hp_ref=education

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.

Resources:

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

http://thehill.com/special-reports/healthy-america-september-2011/182803-keeping-our-children-healthy-hunger-free

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

http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/us_hunger_facts.htm

Congress Pushes Back On Healthier School Lunches, Fights To Keep Pizza And Fries by Mary Clare Jalonick http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/15/congress-pushes-back-on-h_1_n_1094764.html?ref=education

Related:

What is a food hub?                                                            https://drwilda.com/2012/09/03/what-is-a-food-hub/

Do kids get enough time to eat lunch?                                          https://drwilda.com/2012/08/28/do-kids-get-enough-time-to-eat-lunch/

School dinner programs: Trying to reduce the number of hungry children                                                              https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/school-dinner-programs-trying-to-reduce-the-number-of-hungry-children/

School lunches: The political hot potato https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/school-lunches-the-political-hot-potato/

The government that money buys: School lunch cave in by Congress                                                                    https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/the-government-that-money-buys-school-lunch-cave-in-by-congress/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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

16 Nov

There is the saying that “we have the best government that money could buy. We don’t. We have the government that money interests will allow. Moi recently discussed the political wrangling about school lunches in the post, School lunches: The political hot potato https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/school-lunches-the-political-hot-potato/ The World Hunger Education Service describes why nutritious school food is so important in the article, Hunger in America: 2011 United States Hunger and Poverty Facts:

Hunger

Fifty-five percent of  food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest Federal food and nutrition assistance programs ( USDA 2008, p. iv.) The programs are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the new name for the food stamp program (Wikipedia 2010), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) (Wikipedia 2010), and the National School Lunch Program (Wikipedia 2010).

SNAP/Food stamps  The Food Stamp Program, the nation’s most important anti-hunger program, helps roughly 40 million low-income Americans to afford a nutritionally adequate diet. More than 75 percent of all food stamp participants are in families with children; nearly one-third of participants are elderly people or people with disabilities.  Unlike most means-tested benefit programs, which are restricted to particular categories of low-income individuals, the Food Stamp Program is broadly available to almost all households with low incomes. Under federal rules, to qualify for food stamps, a household must meet three criteria (some states have raised these limits)….

National School Lunch Program The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program that provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children from low income families, reaching 30.5 million children in 2008.  Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals, for which students can be charged no more than 40 cents. (For the period July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, 130 percent of the poverty level is $28,665 for a family of four; 185 percent is $40,793.) Children from families with incomes over 185 percent of poverty pay a full price, though their meals are still subsidized to some extent by the program. Program cost was $9.3 billion in 2008. (USDASchool Lunch Program)

http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/us_hunger_facts.htm

Ron Nixon reports on the weasels in Congress who backed down on new rules which would provide more nutritious meals for school children. Many of these children rely on school breakfasts and/or lunches as their primary source of nutrition for the day. In the New York Times article, Congress Blocks New Rules on School Lunches, Nixon reports:

A slice of pizza still counts as a vegetable.

In a victory for the makers of frozen pizzas, tomato paste and French fries, Congress on Monday blocked rules proposed by the Agriculture Department that would have overhauled the nation’s school lunch program.

The proposed changes — the first in 15 years to the $11 billion school lunch program — were meant to reduce childhood obesity by adding more fruits and green vegetables to lunch menus, Agriculture Department officials said. 

The rules, proposed last January, would have cut the amount of potatoes served and would have changed the way schools received credit for serving vegetables by continuing to count tomato paste on a slice of pizza only if more than a quarter-cup of it was used. The rules would have also halved the amount of sodium in school meals over the next 10 years.

But late Monday, lawmakers drafting a House and Senate compromise for the agriculture spending bill blocked the department from using money to carry out any of the proposed rules.

In a statement, the Agriculture Department expressed its disappointment with the decision.

While it is unfortunate that some in Congress chose to bow to special interests, U.S.D.A. remains committed to practical, science-based standards for school meals that improve the health of our children,” the department said in the statement.

Food companies including ConAgra, Coca-Cola, Del Monte Foods and makers of frozen pizza like Schwan argued that the proposed rules would raise the cost of meals and require food that many children would throw away.

The companies called the Congressional response reasonable, adding that the Agriculture Department went too far in trying to improve nutrition in school lunches.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/16/us/politics/congress-blocks-new-rules-on-school-lunches.html?hpw

Unfortunately, the lobbyists won this battle against the interests of children.

For an incisive analysis of the school lunch lobby read  The School Lunch Lobby  by Ron Haskins  which was published in Education Next:

Consistent with the intent of the original school-lunch program, created by Congress in 1946 to provide “nutritious agricultural commodities” to children, the major purpose of today’s school-lunch program is to ensure that children, especially those from poor and low-income families, have nutritious food at school. The school-breakfast program started as a pilot in 1966 and was made permanent in 1975. How these programs, and the money that travels with them, have grown steadily over the years is a story that illustrates many of the underlying mechanisms of social policy creation in the nation’s capital. But can this aging machinery adapt to the demands of a fast-food culture? We created school lunch to feed the hungry. Can we now ask it to fight obesity?

A Special-Interest Stew

Since the strength and longevity of these programs come from an ample and well-balanced diet of public compassion, political sensitivities, and powerful lobbying, change does not come easily. There are occasional food fights between those who have stakes in the programs, but the rules are well established. The interests of the schools–primarily teachers, administrators, school nutritionists, and food-service workers–are represented by groups like the School Nutrition Association and the National School Boards Association, both headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, a stone’s throw across the Potomac River from Capitol Hill. With well-funded and sophisticated national organizations, these groups lobby for more federal money while fighting to keep federal mandates to a minimum.

The giant food and beverage industry–names like Tyson and Archer Daniels Midland–is also involved. Its various lobbying arms, including food processors, distributors, service management companies, soft drink makers, and agricultural giants, work to ensure that the government buys food products from its members and keeps schools open to vending machines and à la carte offerings in the school cafeteria, a little oasis of choice that represents millions of extra dollars of revenue each year. Food advocacy and nutrition groups like the Food Research Action Center and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities represent the interests of children who consume the food offered by schools. They are the nutrition watchdogs, providing reliable and timely information about any food issue that comes before Congress…

http://educationnext.org/the-school-lunch-lobby/

Congress caved in to the money lobbyists. Too bad the kids can’t match them dollar for dollar. We don’t have the best government money can buy. We have the government that money has bought.

Resources:

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

http://thehill.com/special-reports/healthy-america-september-2011/182803-keeping-our-children-healthy-hunger-free

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

http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/us_hunger_facts.htm

Congress Pushes Back On Healthier School Lunches, Fights To Keep Pizza And Fries by           Mary Clare Jalonick                                                                                         http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/15/congress-pushes-back-on-h_1_n_1094764.html?ref=education

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©