Tag Archives: School Lunch Program

Virginia Tech study: Government-Funded School Meals May Increase Obesity Risk

21 Aug

The “Weight of the Nation” conference focused on the public health aspects of obesity. Obesity is an important issue for schools because many children are obese and aside from health risks, these children are often targets for bullying. In Childhood obesity: Recess is being cut in low-income schools moi said:

The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. In order to accomplish this goal, all children must receive a good basic education and in order to achieve that goal, children must arrive at school, ready to learn. There is an epidemic of childhood obesity and obesity is often prevalent among poor children. The American Heart Association has some great information about Physical Activity and Children                                                            http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/Physical-Activity-and-Children_UCM_304053_Article.jsp#.TummU1bfW-c

Education News reported in Government-Funded School Meals May Increase Obesity Risk:

A Virginia Tech researcher has found that government-funded meals in schools are causing financially struggling youth to be at greater risk of becoming overweight.

The free-lunch programs may actually be one of the causes of the nationwide obesity epidemic. Wen You, an associate professor of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said:

“While well-intentioned, these government funded school meal programs that are aimed at making kids healthy are in fact making participating students more at risk of being overweight. This study identifies the hardest battles in crafting policy to alleviate children in low-income populations being overweight.”

The study was published in the journal Health Economics.

Professor You discovered that kids who were more apt to be overweight were from families that qualified for and engaged in the school breakfast and lunch programs, with no breaks from the program throughout their elementary and intermediate academic years. These are the kids who eat one-third or one-half of their daily diets at their schools.

“We found that the longer children were in the programs, the higher their risk of being overweight. We also saw the most negative effect of the government-funded school meal programs in the South, the Northeast, and rural areas of the country. The question now is what to do in order to not just fill bellies, but make sure those children consume healthy and nutritious food — or at least not contribute to the obesity epidemic.”

Additionally, the study found that kids in the South experienced the most notable impact on their weight in the fifth grade, and in the Northeast, the largest impact came in the eighth grade….       http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/government-funded-school-meals-may-increase-obesity-risk/

See, Students in government-funded school meal programs at higher risk of being overweight        https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160811085627.htm

Citation:

Students in government-funded school meal programs at higher risk of being overweight

Date:             August 11, 2016

Source:         Virginia Tech

Summary:

Government-funded school meals are putting financially vulnerable children at risk of being overweight, a researcher has found. As many of the millions of kids who eat government-funded breakfasts or lunches head back to school this fall, most of them will participate in meal programs that may be part of the cause of the nation-wide obesity epidemic. Students from low-income families and those who live in the Northeast, South, and rural America are most susceptible to the problem, suggests a new report.

Journal Reference:

  1. Kristen Capogrossi, Wen You. The Influence of School Nutrition Programs on the Weight of Low-Income Children: A Treatment Effect Analysis. Health Economics, 2016; DOI: 10.1002/hec.3378

Here is the press release from Virginia Tech:

Students participating in government-funded school meal programs at higher risk of being overweight, Virginia Tech researcher finds

August 11, 2016

Agricultural and applied economics Associate Professor Wen You discovered that vulnerable populations being fed government-funded school meals were at a higher risk of being overweight.

Government-funded school meals are putting financially vulnerable children at risk of being overweight, a Virginia Tech researcher has found.

As millions of kids who eat government-funded breakfasts or lunches head back to school this fall, most of them will participate in meal programs that may be part of the cause of the nationwide obesity epidemic.

Students from low-income families and those who live in the Northeast, South, and rural America are most susceptible to the problem.

“While well-intentioned, these government funded school meal programs that are aimed at making kids healthy are in fact making participating students more at risk of being overweight,” said Wen You, associate professor of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “This study identifies the hardest battles in crafting policy to alleviate children in low-income populations being overweight.”

You’s findings were recently published in the journal Health Economics.

You found that those children who were most likely to be overweight came from families who participate in both the school breakfast and lunch programs consistently throughout their elementary and intermediate school years. These children consume one-third to one-half of their daily meals at school. The study examined data collected from 1998 to 2007.

“We found that the longer children were in the programs, the higher their risk of being overweight. We also saw the most negative effect of the government-funded school meal programs in the South, the Northeast, and rural areas of the country,” You said. “The question now is what to do in order to not just fill bellies, but make sure those children consume healthy and nutritious food — or at least not contribute to the obesity epidemic.”

The study also found in the South the most significant impact on child weight was in the fifth grade, and in the Northeast, in the eighth grade.

The study comes on the heels of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which raises the school meals’ nutrition quality standards and the Community Eligibility Provision  that allows schools in high-poverty areas to provide free meals to all students. The new legislation took effect in 2014-2015 school year.

“It’s potentially troubling since even the nutritional targets of previous standards were not being met satisfactorily prior to this new legislation, and now there are potentially millions more kids who could be affected by accessing free school meals,” said You, who did not have data to assess the impact of the newly adopted pieces of legislation in her study.

You and her colleague Kristen Capogrossi, a former doctoral student at Virginia Tech and now an economist at RTI International, examined both long-term and short-term school meal programs participation effects and the specific short-term participation effect of those students whose families may have experienced intermittent poverty and switched participation status along the way.

They found that long-term participation posed the largest risk of being overweight. The study utilized a nationally representative longitudinal data of 21, 260 students who were followed from kindergarten to eighth grade and controlled for the self-selection and income effects to examine school meal programs’ influence on the change in students’ body mass index.

The study utilized statistical methods to match students who were eligible and chose not to participate in the school meal programs with students who chose to participate to ensure comparability. The team also examined a subgroup of students who changed their program participation status along the way and confirmed the short-term risk of being overweight imposed by the school lunch program.

The study reveals the need for improving the school meal programs’ effectiveness at promoting better nutrition among school-age children. Although the research is limited at looking at the school meal programs as a whole, it uncovers the need to go beyond merely raising nutrition standards to comprehensively designing how the programs can enable schools to provide not just healthy food that meets standards, but also healthy food that will be acceptable and appetizing to children.

“Policymakers need to consider all the aspects of school meal programs – from availability and affordability to nutritional content and tastiness. It is important to have extra policy support that will allow funding for programs, such as chef-to-school and farm-to-school, as well as culinary training for cafeteria staff so kids actually enjoy eating what is ultimately prepared for them,” said You. “This study also helps to identify the regions that are most in need and calls for targeted policy design,” she said.

The study was funded in part by the Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics Center for Targeted Studies and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Written by Amy Loeffler

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Aug. 12 to include the years that the data was collected.

Contact:

540-231-5417                                                                                                                                            https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2016/08/080916-wenyou.html

Physically fit children are not only healthier, but are better able to perform in school.

Related:

Louisiana study: Fit children score higher on standardized tests
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/louisiana-study-fit-children-score-higher-on-standardized-tests/

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/

Children, body image, bullying, and eating disorders
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/children-body-image-bullying-and-eating-disorders/

The Healthy Schools Coalition fights for school-based efforts to combat obesity
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/the-healthy-schools-coalition-fights-for-school-based-efforts-to-combat-obesity/

Seattle Research Institute study about outside play
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/tag/childrens-physical-activity/

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/

Harvard study: kids are eating the healthier lunches

24 Mar

Moi wrote in School lunches: The political hot potato:
There are some very good reasons why meals are provided at schools. Education Bug has a history of the school lunch program http://www.educationbug.org/a/the-history-of-the-school-lunch-program.html

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 http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/lunch/aboutlunch/NSLPFactSheet.pdf
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. http://www.pcrm.org/health/healthy-school-lunches/changes/key-changes-recommended-for-the-national-school

A 2003 General Accounting Office (GAO) reached the same conclusion. See, School Lunch Program: Efforts Needed to Improve Nutrition and Encourage and Healthy Eating http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-506 https://drwilda.com/2011/11/03/school-lunches-the-political-hot-potato/

Science Daily reported in the article, New school meal standards significantly increase fruit, vegetable consumption:

New federal standards launched in 2012 that require schools to offer healthier meals have led to increased fruit and vegetable consumption, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers. The study, the first to examine school food consumption both before and after the standards went into effect, contradicts criticisms that the new standards have increased food waste.
“There is a push from some organizations and lawmakers to weaken the new standards. We hope the findings, which show that students are consuming more fruits and vegetables, will discourage those efforts,” said lead author Juliana Cohen, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH.
Some 32 million students eat school meals every day; for many low-income students, up to half their daily energy intake is from school meals. Under the previous dietary guidelines, school breakfasts and lunches were high in sodium and saturated fats and were low in whole grains and fiber. The new standards from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) aimed to improve the nutritional quality of school meals by making whole grains, fruits, and vegetables more available, requiring the selection of a fruit or vegetable, increasing the portion sizes of fruits and vegetables, removing trans fats, and placing limits on total calories and sodium levels.
The researchers collected plate waste data among 1,030 students in four schools in an urban, low-income school district both before (fall 2011) and after (fall 2012) the new standards went into effect. Following the implementation of the new standards, fruit selection increased by 23.0%; entrée and vegetable selection remained unchanged. In addition, consumption of vegetables increased by 16.2%; fruit consumption was unchanged, but because more students selected fruit, overall, more fruit was consumed post-implementation.
Importantly, the new standards did not result in increased food waste, contradicting anecdotal reports from food service directors, teachers, parents, and students that the regulations were causing an increase in waste due to both larger portion sizes and the requirement that students select a fruit or vegetable. However, high levels of fruit and vegetable waste continued to be a problem — students discarded roughly 60%-75% of vegetables and 40% of fruits on their trays. The authors say that schools must focus on improving food quality and palatability to reduce waste…..
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140304071040.htm

Citation:

New school meal standards significantly increase fruit, vegetable consumption
Date: March 4, 2014
Source: Harvard School of Public Health
Summary:
New federal standards launched in 2012 that require schools to offer healthier meals have led to increased fruit and vegetable consumption, according to a new study. The study, the first to examine school food consumption both before and after the standards went into effect, contradicts criticisms that the new standards have increased food waste. “There is a push from some organizations and lawmakers to weaken the new standards. We hope the findings, which show that students are consuming more fruits and vegetables, will discourage those efforts,” said the lead author.
Journal Reference:
1. Juliana F.W. Cohen, Scott Richardson, Ellen Parker, Paul J. Catalano, Eric B. Rimm. Impact of the New U.S. Department of Agriculture School Meal Standards on Food Selection, Consumption, and Waste. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, March 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.11.013

Here is the press release from Harvard:

New school meal standards significantly increase fruit, vegetable consumption
For immediate release: Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Boston, MA — New federal standards launched in 2012 that require schools to offer healthier meals have led to increased fruit and vegetable consumption, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers. The study, the first to examine school food consumption both before and after the standards went into effect, contradicts criticisms that the new standards have increased food waste.
“There is a push from some organizations and lawmakers to weaken the new standards. We hope the findings, which show that students are consuming more fruits and vegetables, will discourage those efforts,” said lead author Juliana Cohen, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH.
Some 32 million students eat school meals every day; for many low-income students, up to half their daily energy intake is from school meals. Under the previous dietary guidelines, school breakfasts and lunches were high in sodium and saturated fats and were low in whole grains and fiber. The new standards from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) aimed to improve the nutritional quality of school meals by making whole grains, fruits, and vegetables more available, requiring the selection of a fruit or vegetable, increasing the portion sizes of fruits and vegetables, removing trans fats, and placing limits on total calories and sodium levels.
The researchers collected plate waste data among 1,030 students in four schools in an urban, low-income school district both before (fall 2011) and after (fall 2012) the new standards went into effect. Following the implementation of the new standards, fruit selection increased by 23.0%; entrée and vegetable selection remained unchanged. In addition, consumption of vegetables increased by 16.2%; fruit consumption was unchanged, but because more students selected fruit, overall, more fruit was consumed post-implementation.
Importantly, the new standards did not result in increased food waste, contradicting anecdotal reports from food service directors, teachers, parents, and students that the regulations were causing an increase in waste due to both larger portion sizes and the requirement that students select a fruit or vegetable. However, high levels of fruit and vegetable waste continued to be a problem—students discarded roughly 60%-75% of vegetables and 40% of fruits on their trays. The authors say that schools must focus on improving food quality and palatability to reduce waste.
“The new school meal standards are the strongest implemented by the USDA to date, and the improved dietary intakes will likely have important health implications for children,” wrote the researchers.
Other HSPH authors included Eric Rimm, senior author and associate professor in the departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition, and Paul Catalano, senior lecturer on biostatistics.
Support was provided by Arbella Insurance and Project Bread. Cohen is supported by the Nutritional Epidemiology of Cancer Education and Career Development Program (R25 CA 098566).
“Impact of the New U.S. Department of Agriculture School Meal Standards on Food Selection, Consumption, and Waste,” Juliana F.W. Cohen, Scott Richardson, Ellen Parker, Paul J. Catalano, Eric B. Rimm, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 46(4):388-394, online March 4, 2014
For more information:
Todd Datz
tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu
617.432.8413
photo: © XiXinXing/Alamy
###
About Harvard School of Public Health
Harvard School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory and the classroom to people’s lives—not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at HSPH teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses. Founded in 1913 as the Harvard-MIT School of Health Officers, the School is recognized as America’s oldest professional training program in public health.

The challenge is getting kids to eat the food mandated by the rules and for school districts to find “kid tasty” foods which are affordable. A Child’s health is too important to be the subject of tawdry political wrangling and high pressure tactics from big money interests. Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Resources:

USDA changes school lunch requirements
http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/271813-usda-changes-school-lunch-requirements

USDA backpedals on healthy school-lunch rules
http://grist.org/news/usda-backpedals-on-healthy-school-lunch-rules/

National School Lunch Program Fact Sheet http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/lunch/aboutlunch/NSLPFactSheet.pdf

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 Congress
https://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/

Brigham Young University study: Paying kids gets them to eat vegetables

21 Dec

Moi wrote in School lunches: The political hot potato:
There are some very good reasons why meals are provided at schools. Education Bug has a history of the school lunch program http://www.educationbug.org/a/the-history-of-the-school-lunch-program.html

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 http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/lunch/aboutlunch/NSLPFactSheet.pdf

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. http://www.pcrm.org/health/healthy-school-lunches/changes/key-changes-recommended-for-the-national-school

A 2003 General Accounting Office (GAO) reached the same conclusion. See, School Lunch Program: Efforts Needed to Improve Nutrition and Encourage and Healthy Eating http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-506 https://drwilda.com/2011/11/03/school-lunches-the-political-hot-potato/

Science Daily reported in the article, Study: Pay Kids to Eat Fruits, Vegetables:

The good news: Research suggests that a new federal rule has prompted the nation’s schools to serve an extra $5.4 million worth of fruits and vegetables each day.
The bad news: The nation’s children throw about $3.8 million of that in the garbage each day.
Researchers from Brigham Young University and Cornell observed three schools adjust to new school lunch standards that require a serving of fruits or vegetables on every student’s tray — whether the child intends to eat it or not. As they report in the December issue of Public Health Nutrition, students discarded 70 percent of the extra fruits and vegetables.
“We saw a minor increase in kids eating the items, but there are other ways to achieve the same goal that are much, much cheaper,” said BYU economics professor Joe Price.
Strange as it sounds, directly paying students to eat a fruit or vegetable is less expensive and gets better results.
With Cornell’s David Just, Price conducted a second study to measure the effect of small rewards in the lunchroom. The week-long experiments took on different twists in the 15 different schools — some could earn a nickel, others a quarter, and others a raffle ticket for a larger prize. But the results were generally the same. As the scholars report in The Journal of Human Resources, offering small rewards increased the fruit and vegetable consumption by 80 percent. And the amount of wasted food declined by 33 percent.
Which begs the question: Is benevolent bribery a better way?
“Parents are often misguided about incentives,” Price said. “We feel a sense of dirtiness about a bribe. But rewards can be really powerful if the activity creates a new skill or changes preferences.”
The case against using bribes in parenting is perhaps best articulated in Alfie Kohn’s 1999 book “Punished by Rewards.” In many scenarios, the use of rewards can crush internal motivation. With healthy eating, for example, some fear that prizes will prevent children from developing their own motivation to eat things that are good for them. Another danger, known as a boomerang effect, is the possibility that some children would eat less fruits and vegetables when the rewards disappeared.
That’s why Price and Just measured fruit and vegetable consumption before and after the week-long experiments. When the week of prizes ended, students went back to the same level of fruit and vegetable consumption as before — no lasting improvement, but no boomerang effect either.
Now the researchers are studying whether extending the experiments over three to five weeks might yield lasting change. So far things look promising….
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217104601.htm#.UrPzdFGb0KY.email

Citation:

Journal References:
1.David Just, Joseph Price. Using Incentives to Encourage Healthy Eating in Children. The Journal of Human Resources, December 2013
2.David Just, Joseph Price. Default options, incentives and food choices: evidence from elementary-school children. Public Health Nutrition, 2013; 16 (12): 2281 DOI: 10.1017/S1368980013001468
Brigham Young University (2013, December 17). Study: Pay kids to eat fruits, vegetables. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2013,

Here is the press release from Brigham Young University:

News Release
Study: Pay kids to eat fruits & veggies with school lunch
Small rewards bring less waste, better results than new school lunch rule
The Washington Post
Slate
The Salt Lake Tribune
Fox News
Yahoo News
Huffington Post
The good news: Research suggests that a new federal rule has prompted the nation’s schools to serve an extra $5.4 million worth of fruits and vegetables each day.
The bad news: The nation’s children throw about $3.8 million of that in the garbage each day.
Researchers from Brigham Young University and Cornell observed three schools adjust to new school lunch standards that require a serving of fruits or vegetables on every student’s tray – whether the child intends to eat it or not. As they report in the December issue of Public Health Nutrition, students discarded 70 percent of the extra fruits and vegetables.
“We saw a minor increase in kids eating the items, but there are other ways to achieve the same goal that are much, much cheaper,” said BYU economics professor Joe Price.
Strange as it sounds, directly paying students to eat a fruit or vegetable is less expensive and gets better results.
With Cornell’s David Just, Price conducted a second study to measure the effect of small rewards in the lunchroom. The week-long experiments took on different twists in the 15 different schools – some could earn a nickel, others a quarter, and others a raffle ticket for a larger prize. But the results were generally the same. As the scholars report in The Journal of Human Resources, offering small rewards increased the fruit and vegetable consumption by 80 percent. And the amount of wasted food declined by 33 percent.
Which begs the question: Is benevolent bribery a better way?
“Parents are often misguided about incentives,” Price said. “We feel a sense of dirtiness about a bribe. But rewards can be really powerful if the activity creates a new skill or changes preferences.”
The case against using bribes in parenting is perhaps best articulated in Alfie Kohn’s 1999 book “Punished by Rewards.” In many scenarios, the use of rewards can crush internal motivation. With healthy eating, for example, some fear that prizes will prevent children from developing their own motivation to eat things that are good for them. Another danger, known as a boomerang effect, is the possibility that some children would eat less fruits and vegetables when the rewards disappeared.
That’s why Price and Just measured fruit and vegetable consumption before and after the week-long experiments. When the week of prizes ended, students went back to the same level of fruit and vegetable consumption as before – no lasting improvement, but no boomerang effect either.
Now the researchers are studying whether extending the experiments over three to five weeks might yield lasting change. So far things look promising.
“I don’t think we should give incentives such a bad rap,” Price said. “They should be considered part of a set of tools we can use.”
The first study documenting the impact of the new rule appears in the December 2013 issue of Public Health Nutrition. The second study is titled “Using Incentives to Encourage Healthy Eating in Children” and is available to subscribers of The Journal of Human Resources. An earlier version of the paper is available at Price’s website.
Related Stories
Birth order study: It’s about time
BYU study says exercise may reduce motivation for food
Story Highlights
•A new federal rule requires a serving of fruits or vegetables on every tray
•70 percent is thrown away, wasting an estimated $3.8 million daily
•Offering a small reward doubles fruit and vegetable consumption without the waste
http://news.byu.edu/archive13-dec-veggies.aspx

The challenge is getting kids to eat the food mandated by the rules and for school districts to find “kid tasty” foods which are affordable. A Child’s health is too important to be the subject of tawdry political wrangling and high pressure tactics from big money interests. Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Resources:

USDA changes school lunch requirements http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/271813-usda-changes-school-lunch-requirements

USDA backpedals on healthy school-lunch rules http://grist.org/news/usda-backpedals-on-healthy-school-lunch-rules/

National School Lunch Program Fact Sheet
http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/lunch/aboutlunch/NSLPFactSheet.pdf

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 Congress https://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/

Some school lunch programs opting out of school lunch program

29 Aug

Moi wrote in School lunches: The political hot potato:
There are some very good reasons why meals are provided at schools. Education Bug has a history of the school lunch program http://www.educationbug.org/a/the-history-of-the-school-lunch-program.html

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 http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/lunch/aboutlunch/NSLPFactSheet.pdf

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. http://www.pcrm.org/health/healthy-school-lunches/changes/key-changes-recommended-for-the-national-school

A 2003 General Accounting Office (GAO) reached the same conclusion. See, School Lunch Program: Efforts Needed to Improve Nutrition and Encourage and Healthy Eating http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-506 https://drwilda.com/2011/11/03/school-lunches-the-political-hot-potato/

Several news outlets are reporting that some schools are opting out of the school lunch program. See, Michelle Obama-touted federal healthy lunch program leaves bad taste in some school districts’ mouths http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57600385/michelle-obama-touted-federal-healthy-lunch-program-leaves-bad-taste-in-some-school-districts-mouths/ Some School Districts Quit Healthier Lunch Program http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/27/schools-quit-healthy-lunch_n_3825808.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share

The Food Action Research Center summarizes the Highlights: Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. Here is a portion of the summary:

Highlights: Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010
Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2010
What’s in the bill:
The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act takes several steps forward to ensure that low-income children can participate in child nutrition programs and receive the meals they need, including:
• Expanding the Afterschool Meal Program to all 50 states;
• Supporting improvements to direct certification for school meals and other strategies to reduce red tape in helping children obtain school meals;
• Allowing state WIC agencies the option to certify children for up to one year;
• Mandating WIC electronic benefit transfer (EBT) implementation nationwide by October 1, 2020;
• Improving area eligibility rules so more family child care homes can use the CACFP program;
• Enhancing the nutritional quality of food served in school-based and preschool settings; and
• Making “competitive foods” offered or sold in schools more nutritious.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BILL
Out-of-School Time Provisions
• Expands the Afterschool Meal Program (through the Child and Adult Care Food Program) to all states. The program currently is available in only 13 states (Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia.
• Requires school food authorities to coordinate with Summer Food sponsors on developing and distributing Summer Food outreach materials.
• Eliminates the requirement that private nonprofit Summer Food sponsors serve no more than 25 sites with no more 300 children at any of the sites unless the sponsor receives a waiver.
• Extends the California year-round Summer Food pilot until 2015 (the length of the reauthorization).
• Authorizes $20 million dollars for Summer Food Support grants for sponsors to establish and maintain programs
________________________________________
School Nutrition Program Provisions
Download the in-depth School Nutrition Program Provisions summary (pdf).
Supports new paperless options for universal meal service.
• Creates a new option that will allow schools in high-poverty areas to offer free meals to all students without collecting paper applications, which will expand access to more children and reduce administrative burdens on schools. The reimbursement levels will be based on the level of direct certification in each school building.
• Establishes a demonstration project to use census data to determine eligibility rates in school districts with high concentrations of low-income children.
• Establishes a three-year demonstration project in up to three school districts to use community survey data to establish eligibility rates in schools instead of paper applications.
Improves direct certification.
• Eliminates the “letter method,” which requires families to return a letter to the school to establish eligibility.
• Establishes a demonstration project to test and implement the use of Medicaid for direct certification.
• Sets performance benchmarks for direct certification and provides incentive bonuses to states that show improvement.
• Makes foster children automatically eligible for free meals, eliminating the need to complete paper applications for school meal benefits.
Enhances school nutrition quality.
• Adds a six cent performance-based increase in the federal reimbursement rate for school lunches (six cents per meal) for schools that meet forthcoming updated nutrition standards for breakfast and lunch.
• Gives the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to establish national nutrition standards for all foods sold on the school campus throughout the school day.
• Directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop model product specifications for USDA commodity foods used in school meals.
• Provides $5 million annually in mandatory funding for farm-to-school programs starting October 1, 2012.
• Strengthens Local School Wellness Policies by updating the requirements of the policies, and requiring opportunities for public input, transparency, and an implementation plan.
• Allows only lower-fat milk options to be served, as recommended in the Dietary Guidelines.
• Ensures that water is available free of charge during the meal service.
Authorizes grants for expansion of School Breakfast Programs
• Subject to available appropriations, grants could be used to establish or expand school breakfast programs, with priority going to schools with 75 percent free and reduced-price eligible students.
Includes new school food financing provisions.
• Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to provide guidance on allowable charges to school food service accounts to prevent inappropriate school expenses that are not related to the school meal programs from draining school meal resources.
• Requires a review of local policies on meal charges and the provision of alternate meals (i.e. cold cheese sandwich) to children who are without funds to purchase a meal.
Requires school districts to gradually increase their “paid” lunch charges until the revenue per lunch matches the federal free reimbursement level. This is a significant change in public policy which likely will result in decreased participation, especially among children whose household income is between 186 and 250 percent of poverty. If these families and higher-income families stop participating in the program it will create the perception that the program is only for “poor” children, causing more children to drop out. Decreases in student participation could cause schools to stop participating in the school meal programs all together. Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Provisions
Download the in-depth CACFP summary (pdf).
Promotes good nutrition, health and wellness in child care.
• Revises the nutrition standards for meals, snacks and beverages served through CACFP to make them consistent with the most recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
• Provides education and encouragement to participating child care centers and homes to provide children with healthy meals and snacks and daily opportunities for physical activity, and to limit screen time.
• Increases USDA training, technical assistance and educational materials available to child care providers, helping them to serve healthier food.
• Authorizes ongoing research on nutrition, health and wellness practices, as well as the barriers and facilitators to CACFP participation, in child care settings.
• Requires interagency coordination focused on strengthening the role of child care licensing in supporting good nutrition, health and wellness and maximizing the value of CACFP.
• Provides $10 million in funding to USDA for training, technical assistance and materials development.
Expands eligibility, reduces paperwork and simplifies program requirements.
• Expands eligibility by allowing the use of high school and middle school free and reduced-priced school lunch participation levels to determine Tier 1 area eligibility for family child care homes.
• Eliminates the block claim requirement completely.
• Allows providers to facilitate the return of participating children’s family income forms.
• Allows permanent operating agreements and renewable applications.
• Continues the USDA working group to reduce paperwork and improve program administration and requires USDA to report the results to Congress.
• Establishes a simplified method of determining sponsor monthly administrative funding by requiring only the number of homes multiplied by the administrative reimbursement rates calculation to determine the sponsors’ administrative reimbursements.
• Permits sponsoring organizations to carry over a maximum of 10 percent of administrative funds into the following fiscal year, which will allow sponsors more flexibility to use their funds effectively from one fiscal year to the next.
• Allows state WIC agencies to permit local WIC agencies to share WIC nutrition education materials with CACFP institutions at no cost if a written materials sharing agreement exists between the relevant agencies.
Enhances audit funds and provides protections for states and institutions.
• Allows USDA to increase the state audit funds made available to any state agency from 1.5 percent to up to a total of two percent if the state agency demonstrates that it can effectively use the funds to improve program management.
• Requires the federal-state agreement to make clear the expectation that the federal funds provided to operate the Child Nutrition Programs be fully utilized for that purpose and that such funds should be excluded from state budget restrictions or limitations, including hiring freezes, work furloughs and travel restrictions…. http://frac.org/highlights-healthy-hunger-free-kids-act-of-2010/

Of course, there are pros and cons of any legislation.

Bonnie Taub-Dix MA, RD, CDN, summarizes the issues in Hungry Vs. Healthy: The School Lunch Controversy :

The background: The new regulations released in August, which were championed by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign to fight childhood obesity, trimmed down the carbs and gave them a little color by emphasizing whole grains instead of white flour. Fruits and veggies were placed in a leading role supported by a cast of protein foods like chicken, lean meat, cheese, and so on. The calories of school lunch meals have not changed appreciably, with previous guidelines for children in grades 7 through 12 weighing in at 825 calories and the newest regs ranging from 750 to 850 calories for the same age group. What has changed significantly, however, is what’s being served.
As hard as it might be to believe, one in three American children is overweight or obese and at risk for diabetes, meaning that so many children are overfed, yet undernourished. Previous school meal standards were developed 15 years ago and didn’t meet nutritional guidelines recently established by independent health and nutrition experts. Under the watch of the Institute of Medicine and passed in December, 2010, by a bi-partisan majority in Congress, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, was enacted to provide nutritious meals to all children across America.
The Gripe: Not everyone is happy about these healthy school-lunch makeovers, as evidenced by the YouTube video. Some hungry students and teachers are claiming that they aren’t being served the calories they need—and that to compensate, they’re resorting to junk food to fill up. (Ironically, that’s a recipe for hunger: Unlike nutritious food, junk is only temporarily satisfying.) Adding more calories doesn’t mean adding more nutritional value. For some, overeating could lead to feeling listless and weak.
There are, however, kids who need more food than is being served, particularly those who participate in sports and after-school programs. For these kids, schools can structure after-school snack and supper programs. Individual students and/or sports teams can also supplement with healthy snacks brought from home. Schools also have the option to give students who need additional calories seconds of low-fat milk, fruit, and vegetables, but those are not the foods kids are requesting. Instead, they are seeking the preferred choices served in the past, which may have less to do with calories than familiarity.
The Problem: When you really weigh the difference between the calories of the old school lunch tray and the new, the bigger problem may be about giving kids the food they like, even though some of those foods, especially those that are fried and laden with unhealthy ingredients, may not like them back. Herein lies the disconnect: Our children need help in getting to a healthier place, and although science has paved the way, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to make sense of the science—especially when it comes to serving kids the foods they not only need, but they actually like.
And perhaps the problem goes way beyond school walls. Although the cafeteria can be a classroom through the introduction of healthier options, parents need to step up to the plate at home, too. The most important part a parent can play is that of role model. Setting up a salad bar at home and adding veggies to pizza are just some of the ways parents can bring home a healthier message.
The compromise: School lunch provides approximately one-third of the calories an average child needs for the day, but children who are active and fast-growing may require more than others. Although kids should have an adequate number of calories to support health and growth, it’s important to focus on the right types of calories, not just the number of calories required. In other words, we need to look at quality and quantity. It’s also unrealistic and perhaps unhealthy for kids to attempt to meet the demands of their school day, both physically and intellectually, all in one meal. Eating a balanced breakfast and including energizing snacks is key in maintaining energy levels.
Parents may need to send the right snacks with their children instead of sugary treats, which could zap their energy instead of providing it…. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2012/10/05/hungry-vs-healthy-the-school-lunch-controversy

The challenge is getting kids to eat the food mandated by the rules and for school districts to find “kid tasty” foods which are affordable. A Child’s health is too important to be the subject of tawdry political wrangling and high pressure tactics from big money interests. Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Resources:

USDA changes school lunch requirements
http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/271813-usda-changes-school-lunch-requirements

USDA backpedals on healthy school-lunch rules
http://grist.org/news/usda-backpedals-on-healthy-school-lunch-rules/

National School Lunch Program Fact Sheet http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/lunch/aboutlunch/NSLPFactSheet.pdf

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 Congress
https://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/

USDA revises school lunch guidelines to include more meat and grains

12 Dec

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/

Mary Clare Jalonick of AP reports at Huffington Post in the article, School Lunches To Be Allowed Unlimited Meats, Grains, USDA Announces:

WASHINGTON — The Agriculture Department is responding to criticism over new school lunch rules by allowing more grains and meat in kids’ meals.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told members of Congress in a letter Friday that the department will do away with daily and weekly limits of meats and grains. Several lawmakers wrote the department after the new rules went into effect in September saying kids aren’t getting enough to eat. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/09/school-lunches-to-be-allo_n_2267731.html

See the press release: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cga/pressreleases/2012/0023.htm

Here is a sample menu: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Governance/Legislation/cnr_chart.pdf

The challenge is getting kids to eat the food mandated by the rules and for school districts to find “kid tasty” foods which are affordable. A Child’s health is too important to be the subject of tawdry political wrangling and high pressure tactics from big money interests. Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

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.
Confucius

Resources:

USDA changes school lunch requirements                                http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/271813-usda-changes-school-lunch-requirements

USDA backpedals on healthy school-lunch rules                   http://grist.org/news/usda-backpedals-on-healthy-school-lunch-rules/

National School Lunch Program Fact Sheet                       http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/lunch/aboutlunch/NSLPFactSheet.pdf

Related:

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

School lunches: The political hot potatohttps://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 ©

Government is trying to control the vending machine choices of children

20 Feb

The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. In order to accomplish this goal, all children must receive a good basic education and in order to achieve that goal, children must arrive at school, ready to learn. Ron Nixon reports in the New York Times article, New Guidelines Planned on School Vending Machines:

The government’s attempt to reduce childhood obesity is moving from the school cafeteria to the vending machines.

The Obama administration is working on setting nutritional standards for foods that children can buy outside the cafeteria. With students eating 19 percent to 50 percent of their daily food at school, the administration says it wants to ensure that what they eat contributes to good health and smaller waistlines. The proposed rules are expected within the next few weeks.

Efforts to restrict the food that schoolchildren eat outside the lunchroom have long been controversial.

Representatives of the food and beverage industries argue that many of their products contribute to good nutrition and should not be banned. Schools say that overly restrictive rules, which could include banning the candy sold for school fund-raisers, risk the loss of substantial revenue that helps pay for sports, music and arts programs. A study by the National Academy of Sciences estimates that about $2.3 billion worth of snack foods and beverages are sold annually in schools nationwide.

Nutritionists say that school vending machines stocked with potato chips, cookies and sugary soft drinks contribute to childhood obesity, which has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about one in every five children are obese.

No details of the proposed guidelines have been released, but health advocates and snack food and soft drink industry representatives predict that the rules will be similar to those for the government’s school lunch program, which reduced amounts of sugar, salt and fat…..

But a study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine released this month shows that despite industry efforts and those of others, snacking behavior among children remains largely unchanged. One reason is that healthier snacks were being offered alongside less nutritious offerings.

Between 2006 and 2010, the study found, about half of the schools had vending machines, stores and cafeterias that offered unhealthy foods.

The availability of high-fat foods in schools followed regional patterns. In the South, where rates of childhood obesity are the highest, less nutritious food was more prevalent. In the West, where childhood obesity rates are lower, high-fat food was not as common, the study found.

Health advocates say the study points to the need for national standards.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/us/politics/new-rules-planned-on-school-vending-machines.html?_r=1&hpw

There have been studies about the effect of vending machine snacking and childhood obesity.

Katy Waldman wrote the Slate article, Do Vending Machines Affect Student Obesity?

Despite all the recent handwringing (even pearl clutching) over junk food in schools, a study out this month in the quarterly Sociology of Education found no link between student obesity rates and the school-wide sale of candy, chips, or sugary soda. The finding undermines efforts by policy makers to trim kids’ waistlines by banning snacks from the classroom. And it must taste odd to the many doctors and scientists who see vending machines as accessories in the childhood obesity epidemic.  

The study followed 19,450 fifth graders of both sexes for four years. At the beginning, 59 percent of the students went to schools that sold “competitive foods”—that is, non-cafeteria fare not reimbursable through federal meal programs. CFs tend to have higher sugar or fat content and lower nutritional value (think the indulgences at the top of the food pyramid, like Coke and Oreos). By the time the students reached eighth grade, 86 percent of them attended schools that sold competitive foods. The researchers, led by Pennsylvania State University’s Jennifer Van Hook, then compared body mass indexes from the 19,450 students, including those who’d spent all four years in junk food-free environments, those who’d left such schools for vending machine-friendly ones, those who’d transferred from vending machine-friendly schools to junk food-free schools, and those who enjoyed access to vending machines for all four years. Regardless of which data sets they contrasted, the researchers were unable to find any sort of connection between obesity and the availability of “unhealthy” snacks in school. In other words, children who could theoretically grab a Snickers bar after class every day for four years were, on average, no heavier than those who couldn’t.

While Van Hook speculated to the New York Times that the findings reflect our tendency to “establish food preferences… early in life,” she also noted in her paper that middle schoolers’ regimented schedules could prevent them from doing much unsupervised eating. (I guess that means that the students didn’t have time to utilize the junk food options they had, which is an issue for another day). In any case, the takeaway is clear. You can’t solve childhood obesity by outlawing vending machines. The obesity epidemic (if it is one) depends on a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors. Maybe a full-court press of school regulations plus zoning laws that encourage supermarkets to come to poor neighborhoods plus government subsidies for fruits and veggies plus crackdowns on fast food advertising plus fifty other adjustments would begin to make a dent in the problem. (Maybe a saner cultural attitude towards food, weight, and looks in general would also help).

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/01/24/junk_food_in_school_do_vending_machines_make_kids_fat_.html

See, Rising Childhood Obesity and Vending Machines http://www.medicaladvices.net/Child_Health/rising-childhood-obesity-and-vending-machines-a14.html

The issue of childhood obesity is complicated and there are probably many factors. If a child’s family does not model healthy eating habits, it probably will be difficult to change the food preferences of the child. Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Related:

New emphasis on obesity: Possible unintended consequences, eating disorders https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/new-emphasis-on-obesity-possible-unintended-consequences-eating-disorders/

Childhood obesity: Recess is being cut in low-income schools https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/childhood-obesity-recess-is-being-cut-in-low-income-schools/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©