Nutrition Policies in Schools Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

School Lunch

If it is true that you are what you eat, many people do not know themselves very well. Nutritional value of any food is of extreme importance due to the fact of its contribution to the maintenance and overall health of the individual. No one could be expected to operate and learn at a high level if the sources of energy using to fuel this process are of low quality. High quality foods coupled with positive healthy attitudes towards eating and consuming are necessities in today's fast-paced society. The future of the world lies within the next generation and their education. The importance of treating children with respect and honesty cannot be overvalued in today's society. The precious resources that children provide in terms of hope and optimism require educators in today's world to do the best for the betterment of the entire society.

Nutritional policies reflect social values and principles of any group or organization. Evaluating these policies is important as changing times require new and reflective ways of investigating current trends. Eisler et al. (2009) noted "in the past three years, the government has divided nation schools with millions of pounds of beef and chicken that would meet the quality or safety standards of many fast food restaurants." This comment is not intend to laud the fast food industry, rather, it is a warning that the high fat, low nutritional value seen in fast food menus seem to have more nutritional content than lunches fed to children in public schools. The purpose of this essay is to examine nutritional policies seen in today's schooling systems and whether or not lunch programs provide any assistance in helping alleviate the symptoms of a broken model. In order to evaluate these policies it is important and helpful to answer certain questions: Who is responsible? How are solutions developed that may solve this problem? What specific plans need to occur in order for these problems to be solved? I will address these questions in order to support the idea that nutritional content of school lunch programs is in an important issue that needs to be understood in order for education and schooling systems to reach their full potential.

Before deciding what is nutritionally valuable or not, one must first determine who is responsible for the health of the children of society. The constant clash between parents, teachers and school officials provides a t very difficult situation in determining what is the right course of action for any particular group of children. Each specific group of interested parties needs to take responsibility for their particular role in any child's education and his health which would include the nutritional value of school lunches. Regardless of policies, educators need to remember why they are there teaching, parents need to realize why they need to take the specific interest in their child's health, and administrators need to understand that they work for the people and not dictate rules because they have a certain stance of power. It is when all groups come together united by a single plan will progress most likely occur.

The notion of a child having responsibility for his or her own health needs to be taken more seriously in today's world. The many temptations the child will encounter in any given moment of life is numerous and often dangerous. Children, and people in general, work and decide what's best for them in all their decisions with emotions stemming from environmental factors. The stronger the child is internally, and the more solidly attached to a given set of principles, a nutritional school lunch policy would have a diminished effect on any particular group. Strong individuals would choose nutritional foods because they are nutritious and not because they are told to eat their vegetables. Overall, the problem of poor quality nutrition within school lunches need to be addressed not only by adults but also by the children themselves in concert to create a better understood level of responsibility and accountability.

It is first important to look at the status quo when suggesting improvements to certain systems. According to its website, the national school lunch program "is a federally assisted meal program operating over 101,000 public and nonprofit private schools and residential care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children each school day." A large number of people affected by this program warrants a critical examination of it. The system is confusing and relies on standards that can be interpreted by very different processes. Funds are allocated according to demographic information including the financial status of the parents of the child. The scope of this program essentially affects every school, as federal money is given to each school district for nutritional needs. The national school lunch program cost $9.8 billion in 2009.

Comparing British Columbia's school lunch program to the federal program of the United States, certain distinct characteristics appear. According to its website, British Columbia celebrates its school lunch program by treating it more as a charity then as a right. This approach is substantially different from the American governments in that their programs target global students and not just poor students. The flexibility of this program provides its users to synchronize its efforts by granting authority to the lowest level possible. Teachers and educators who are closest to students can help the student more effectively due to the relative nature of problems and the information available to the teacher.

Nutritional factors for the national school lunch program is an important aspect of determining whether it's viable or not. Their standards require that "school lunches need applicable recommendations of the dietary guidelines for Americans, which recommended no more than 30% of individual salaries come from fat, and less than 10% from saturated fat." These specific standards, appear to be useful but unfortunately do not take into account the numerous variables that dictate the individual's health. These vague statistics appear to help regulate school districts, but are much too loose to be used in any scientific or useful manner.

It is obvious that something is broken. Childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic within Western life. The skill of eating has become a challenge for not only children but for those who watch the children. This problem may be too large for the school system to handle. Educators need to be aware of their environment, but cannot be totally responsible for everything the child does and doesn't do. If a child is obese, it is surely not due to the school system delivering poor lunches. Eating habits are developed within the home environment and are carried into the school system. This does not shun the responsibility of the educators however in providing nutritious lunches for its students. Test scores and learning capabilities will no doubt increase when the body is working its full capability . Nutritious foods are prerequisite for any attempt at achieving excellence. The fuel that the body needs should be examined in any situation where broken systems are evident.

Nutritional requirements of individuals vary from geographical area to geographical area. The diets of a child in the northern parts of America and Canada require more fatty foods due to environmental conditions. Local cuisines and local dietary habits need to be accounted for when applying a new system that would involve a mass overhaul of the school lunch program. Dahl & Scholz (2011) supported this: "among all individuals children in the South are significant more likely to participate in a meal program at school than those in the Northeast." Creating standards that don't represent a child's environment will ultimately fail in developing that child to its fullest potential. Individual responsibility once again becomes important in maintaining and developing a system that can be…

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