Since 1962, the U.S. has been celebrating National School Lunch Week in appreciation of the National School Lunch Program. This year's celebrations will run from October 10th to 14th with the theme 'Show Your Spirit'. The theme was chosen to remind students, parents, and school officials that a healthy school lunch is a big part of enabling children to get through the day.
Food insecurity in children is a significant problem in the United States. According to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates, 7.8 percent of American households with children were food insecure* in 2015 – a percentage that amounts to 3 million households that were unable to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children. Additionally, in 247,000 households, food security was characterized as very low, indicating periods of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.
As children head back to school, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to celebrate Kids Eat Right Month™ by ensuring children are properly fueled to grow and succeed.
Topics: Child Nutrition
Throughout the school year, many children rely on school meal programs to keep hunger at bay. Due to food scarcity in the home, these meals may be the only substantial nutrition some of these kids receive each day. However, when summer break arrives, many of these child nutrition programs end and kids are left hungry. This is when they require community assistance to fill the gap. Here are ways that communities can get healthy summer meals to children in need.
The Summer Food Service Program
Summer should be a time of rest and fun. It should also be a time for kids to develop in healthy ways so that they can learn things quickly when the new school year begins. Children living in poverty are at a disadvantage in summer because they no longer have access to the meals they normally get in school.
Hunger leads to increased illnesses and delayed development, which puts these children behind their peers when school starts again. If you wonder what can be done about this, you aren’t alone. Many people are unaware of government resources that are available for providing free summer meals to kids. One of the biggest programs is the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, which provides reimbursement for organizations offering summer meal programsfor eligible children. If you want to mobilize a new summer food service for hungry kids in your area, your first step should be to look over the USDA’s programguidelines and contact them for assistance.
Are you curious about your child's school lunch program? Are the lunches nutritious? Are the lunches affordable? Are there a variety of foods offered? There are so many questions surrounding school lunch today, it's no wonder parents find themselves contemplating whether or not they should pack their child's lunch each day.
This update is a follow-up to an earlier article about Child Nutrition Reauthorization.
Topics: Child Nutrition
What is the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act?
According to the Food and Research Action Center (FRAC), more than 1 in 5 children live in households facing a constant struggle against hunger. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization (CNR) Act provides the federal funding for school meals and child nutrition programs. The purpose is to ensure low-income children have access to healthy and nutritious foods. Every five years, Congress reviews the funding levels and develops new policies to strengthen and improve the programs. The current law for CNR is the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010. The deadline for reauthorizing CNR was September 30, 2015. This leaves many wondering what will happen to the children served by the programs funded by this act.
With the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, the National School Lunch Program requires a greater variety of vegetables be served throughout the school week. However, getting children to try vegetables has proven to be a challenge. As a result, many schools are implementing farm-to-school programs. The National Farm to School Program was authorized by Congress in 2004, with the intent to supply fresh, locally grown foods to schools. Children are more willing to try new foods if they interact with the grower. Local farmers also benefit from financial opportunities by supplying schools and food distributors.
School breakfast improves achievement scores
A recent study conducted by David Frisvold, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Iowa, finds students who attend schools that participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's School Breakfast Program (SBP) have higher achievement scores in math, science, and reading than students in schools that don't participate. This is consistent with other studies about school breakfast. A brief prepared by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), summarizes the findings from research on school breakfast: