The recent changes in the breakfast and lunch programs in the schools have significant impact on the nutritional status of children and in fighting obesity which is a national problem. State and federal governments have issued laws and regulations to minimize the problem. This paper summarizes the major issues and concerns on economic situation and health. It also presents the process and benefits of the program. Economic Situation
One of the issues related with the recent change in school lunch and breakfast is the economic situation. The government increased 6 cents per meal reimbursement for school lunch and breakfast program if the schools met the new nutrition standards, but some school districts had concerns that the revenue from the vending items or competitive foods sold outside of school lunch programs would drop and reduce profits that would create financial problems. According to Wharton, C. Long, M, Schwartz, M, available data suggest that most schools don’t experience any overall losses of revenue. After reviewing the results from three states nutrition policy pilot studies “fears of net negative financial impact due to changes in food options and overall school nutrition is unfounded and in some schools, there was increased participation in the NSLP after the intervention, which might compensate for revenue losses in snack where they occurred” (2008, May 01). Another issue is the economic situation of low income families who can’t afford to pay the school lunch and breakfast program and whose kids are vulnerable for obesity epidemic (see graph in figure 1.) Under this circumstance the law has made it possible to provide free and reduced lunches so that more children from all income levels adopt the kind of healthy eating habits and lifestyles that will enable them to live healthier and more productive lives. The health of the population being served
Our country is suffering from obesity epidemic and it is caused by too much calorie intake. Currently childhood obesity and overweight are major public health issues. “Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past thirty years and in 2010 more than one out of three children and adolescents were overweight or obese” (USDA 5 year plan, July 2013). According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are too many related health risks of obese children in their childhood and they are more likely to be obese adults.
The major risk factors include” high blood pressure and high cholesterol which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, such as sleep apnea and asthma, joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort, fatty liver disease i.e. heart burn [and above all] obese children and adolescents have a greater risk of social and psychological problems such as discrimination and poor self-esteem which can continue into adult hood”( Basics about childhood obesity, n.d) Economically obesity has a major impact on the U.S health care system. It is estimated that obesity related expenses were” $148 million in 2008” (Basics about childhood obesity n.d.) Process of the Program
In order to provide a balanced nutrition for our kids the new law requires all foods sold in school to be fruit, vegetable, whole grains, dairy product or a combination of all. Foods must contain important minerals and vitamins. In addition, schools must meet a range of calorie and nutrient requirements which are provided in the guidelines. The law also requires schools to improve the nutritional quality of foods offered for sale to students outside of federal school lunch and breakfast program. Schools also expected to make water available to children at no charge wherever lunches are served (Federal Register, article 02/08/2013). In order to address the economic situation of children from poor background, the federal register makes it clear that children to be eligible for free meals and free milk automatically. School food authorities are also required to inform families of the availability of free and reduced price breakfast and lunch during school year, and also in the summer when school year ends. Benefits of the program
The main purpose of the change in the school lunch and breakfast is to create a healthy environment where children make healthy eating choices, and reinforce the development of healthy eating habits for all children regardless of their families’ income level. This will ultimately leads to solving obesity problem and ensure citizens live productive and healthy life. Conclusion
Researchers have shown that school lunch and breakfast programs that feed around 50 million children every day in the whole nation as a major risk factor for childhood obesity. Even though obesity is rising so fast and causing a lot of problems in our nation the recent change to the school lunch and breakfast program is believed to have positive impact on our future generation.
Figure 1: Child Obesity Trend among Low Income Families
Data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html
Basics about childhood obesity (n.d), Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved from centers for disease control and prevention website: www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/basics.html Federal Registers (article, 02/08/2013) National school lunch program and school breakfast program : Nutrition standards for all foods sold in school as required by the Healthy Hunger-Free Act of 2010: A proposed rule by the Food and Nutrition service on. Retrieved from the office of the Federal Register website: www.Federal register.gov/articles/2013/02/08/2013-02584/national-school lunch- Program-and-school-breakfast-program-nutrition-standard-for-all-food. Healthy Hunger-Free kids Act of 2010, section 204: Local school wellness policies 5-year technical assistance and guidance plan (updated July, 2013). Retrieved from Food and Nutrition services website: www.Fns.usda.gov/tn/healthy/lwp5yrplan.pdf Wharton,C.,Long,M., Schwartz,M.(2008,May 01). Changing Nutrition standards in schools: The Emerging Impact on School Revenue. Journal of school health,(5),245,. Retrieved from http://elibrary.bigchalk.com