Healthier Choices in Public Schools
The debate between eating healthy versus eating ‘junk’ is a problem that greatly effects the lives of many adults and families but it does not stop in the home; school lunches given to children that are provided by public schools is astonishingly unhealthy and highlights another issue of the economic costs of local foods. The number one defense of eating healthy regularly is the monetary value and this hits hard on low-funded public schools. According to an online article posted on CNN, “from its beginning, the National School Lunch Program has been woefully under-funded” and that “the Federal Government mandates schools that receive federal money serve a free lunch to children whose families meet a certain income, the funds don’t cover the entire cost of the meal” (Christensen, J., 2010). This article notes that the children who ate school lunches over packed lunches were more likely to gain weight, which comes as no surprise when the article later states that the average amount of federal funds for a school lunch is $2.47 per student per day.
The price of healthy foods is more expensive because it is typically seasonal items that need to be shipped internationally to reach certain regions during different times of the day. The costs of packaging and shipping grocery items become expensive in both economic and environmental value which brings up the idea of buying locally. We, the people and government, need to arrive at a solution to lower the price and availability of healthy foods in our public school systems. Families that cannot afford to send their children to school with a packed lunch are forced to feed them over-processed and reheated food which gives these children an unfair advantage for their bodies and health.
In our course textbook, Gardner (2006) questions the power of changing the minds of formal instititutions where mind changing is their goal and states that “schools stand out because they serve those young individuals whose minds can most readily be changed” (133). If public school systems had the opportunity to provide healthy food options than children would be more accustomed to seeing and choosing these items over the junk food at later stages of their lives. Providing a positive example early in childhood relates to positive life choices. Gardner states that “from an amazingly early age, youngsters catch on to the teaching-and-learning-enterprise” (133). This means that children develop a sense of asking for help and for examples on a subject so that they can understand the problem or question. Providing healthier food in schools seems to be a growing topic of interest that needs to be fully addressed and concluded.
For more information on this article please visit http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/09/29/school.food.investigation/
Reference: Gardner, H. (2006). Changing Minds. Boston: MA., Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data.