When schools aren’t forced to provide healthy food, they usually don’t, according to a new study. (TIME)
Does your school provide healthy school lunches? Learn more about nutrition, and use our partner resources to better understand how to bring “food justice” to your classroom.
- According to the short TIME article, few schools “offered healthy food options before the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) federally mandated them.” Why do you think few schools voluntarily support nutritional standards or implement the suggested changes?
- Money. Some critics say implementing the changes would cost schools money. Vending contracts, for instance, are lucrative and may support programs such as science labs and sports teams.
- Independence. “This is where the heavy hand of the government is coming down and trying to dictate to local school systems,” said one critic earlier this year.
- The research profiled in the TIME article examined if the “USDA standard components may be associated with student overweight/obesity.” Did the researchers find any links between student obesity and whether or not their schools were meeting the USDA standards?
- Sort of. Researchers found a link between lower (self-reported) rates of obesity and USDA standards among high school students, but not middle-schoolers.
- What are three major components of the USDA “nutritional environment recommendations”?
- The first school lunch requirements, including offering more fruits, vegetables and low-fat milk, were rolled out in the 2012-2013 school year.
- Healthier breakfast requirements like adding more whole grains came at the start of the 2013-2014 school year.
- This academic year was set to see better on-the-go (snack) options, with healthy options replacing junk food in vending machines and snack bars.
- Read through this collection of “food justice” material from our partner, Teaching Tolerance. What is the main difference between the school-lunch changes profiled in the TIME article and the changes profiled in the Teaching Tolerance collection?
- The changes profiled in the TIME article are mandated and implemented by the government and school boards. The changes profiled in the Teaching Tolerance collection are conceived and implemented by students and educators.
- Read through this collection of “food justice” material from our partner, Teaching Tolerance. What are some ways students and educators are working to create healthier food choices at school?
- What are some ways students, educators, and school administration officials can create healthier food choices at schools?
- Invest in professional development opportunities for food-service personnel.
- Create ongoing dialogues with parents and community groups to help understand concerns and facilitate shared responsibilities for creating a healthy learning environment.
This week is Geography Awareness Week, celebrating the Geography of Food! This week, our Current Event Connection will focus on Food in the News, exploring food as a dynamic, diverse interconnection between health, politics, the environment, and business.
TIME: Most Schools Still Don’t Meet Federal Nutrition Standards
Nat Geo: Teaching Tolerance: Food Collection
Nat Geo: Geography Awareness Week
Nat Geo: Food Education resources