In order to succeed, nutrition education needs to be incorporated into the schools curriculum actively involving teachers, family, and other community professionals (Pérez-Rodrigo & Aranceta, 2001). School based nutrition should not only be based on nutritional information, but other issues such as food preparation and food preservation and storage. These are factors that schools need to regulate. Also, other issues that need to be taught are social and cultural aspects of food and eating, positive body image, and enhanced self esteem.
Also, extracurricular activities should be added into the daily routines of students to help keep a positive out look on nutrition. Some examples are, school gardening and cooking classes. The children will enjoy these activities, and with benefit from them also.
An article from The Stanford School of Medicine called "Can Cooking Classes Help Curb Childhood Obesity" author Margarita Gallardo explains that a new study shows that having cooking classes along side science and math may promote healthier eating habits as well as curb the childhood obesity epidemic (Gallardo, 2011). In the study a group of children experienced regular school curriculum along with experimental cooking classes. Both teachers and student described positive experiences with the curriculum intregration into academic subjects, and strengthened the students perspective in their understanding of the content of school subjects.
So, not only did they learn new healthy habits of eating from these classes, they said it helped them better understand their regular class content. Schools should keep studies like this, and many others in mind when planning their school curriculum, and that integrating extra curricular classes and activities will benefit the students.
School meals should be a part of the educational process, providing a valuable opportunity to practice what children learn in the school setting, combined with other policies that facilitate a positive school environment (Pérez-Rodrigo & Aranceta, 2001). This means having a clean lunch room, with plenty of time to enjoy healthy food either from the school or brought from home. Time is a key factor in eating. Make sure the children have a valid amount of time for them to eat at a healthy pace and enjoy their food. If not enough time is allowed they will eat too fast (even if it is healthy food) and in the long run can be worse for them.
The New York Times has a short article called, "Slowing Down School Lunch" and in this article the author Tara Parker-Pope talks about how children will actually do better if they are allowed more leisure time for their meal on standardized tests, rather than when they are rushed back to class to study for them (Parker-Pope, 2009). It also states, that in most public schools, the last student in the lunch line might have as few as seven minutes to eat lunch (Parker-Pope, 2009).
When students are only allowed this much time to eat, if it is healthy or non healthy food, they are still eating too fast. Schools need to take into account how many students they have, how big of a lunch room, how fast they can serve the food, and the time allowed for the whole lunch period. Also, the school is responsible in providing a clean atmosphere to eat in. It needs to be kept at certain standards, click here to see The National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities rules and regulations.
School meals should provide high quality foods that meet dietary requirements, consistent with dietary guidelines and positive nutrition experiences (Pérez-Rodrigo & Aranceta, 2001). Consumption of school meals is positivley related to the children's intake of key food groups at lunch and breakfast and that additional health benefits could be realized by offering more fresh fruits, whole grains, and a greater variety of vegtables.The
National School Lunch Act mandates that school meals "safeguard the health
and well-being of the Nation's children”. Participating schools must serve lunches that are consistent with the applicable
recommendations of the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans including:
eat a variety of foods; choose a diet with plenty of grain products, vegetables
and fruits; choose a diet moderate in sugars and salt; and choose a diet with
30% or less of calories from fat and less than 10% of calories from saturated
fat (Preparing school meals).
In addition, lunches must provide,
on average over each school week, at least 1/3 of the daily Recommended Dietary
Allowances for protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C. To provide local food service professionals
with flexibility, there are four menu planning approaches to plan healthful and
appealing meals. Here are the school lunch requirements from the National School Lunch Program.
Limit Unhealthy Food Advertisement
Schools should limit the advertisement of unhealthy food, candy, pop, sweets, and snacks in the school building. Children are constantly seeing these advertisements making them want these unhealthy foods, when really it is what is leading us to a childhood obesity epidemic. In the following YouTube video there are many statistics about the amount of these advertisements that are aimed at children and why it is important to curve children away from these while in school.
Letter to Guardians
It is the aim of our faculty and staff to instill healthy eating habits in all of our students. In a culture rampant with colorful prepackaged food, children may need more guidance than in the past. Healthy eating habits are important to avoid eating disorders, anemia, malnutrition, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and obesity. The United States Agricultural Department found in a conclusive report in 2010 that children’s diets lack a sufficient amount of green and orange vegetables and are too high in sugars and fats. The seriousness of this issue is reflected in the rise in childhood obesity and type two diabetes. Nearly one in three children in America today is overweight or obese. Consequently, we will be teaching students about the six basic food groups as distinguished by the USDA and the servings recommended daily. In order to address the needs of many different students, teachers will introduce various means of diversity in diet, such as vegetarians or students with food allergies, and they will warn students against particularly harmful eating styles.
As a guardian, you can aid our efforts by reinforcing our message to eat well. A good way to do this is to provide your child with healthy snacks such as fresh fruits and vegetables and to avoid sweets and fatty or processed foods. For more helpful hints, please see our Healthy Eating and Nutrition web site or feel free to come to your child’s teacher with any questions. We appreciate your support.
Heath E. Eder Elementary School faculty and staff
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