Stakeholders within the education system are concerned about nutrition, health, and education needs of every student. This led to the introduction of breakfast and lunch programs to ensure all children feed on proper meals since health and well-being go together with classroom performance. However, poor program planning led to the introduction of junk foods, which have less nutritional and health value. Therefore, to improve the nutritional value of breakfast and lunch meals, the school board introduced some changes. Nutritional changes in school breakfast and lunch programs improve the students’ health and well-being. This paper provides information about the recent changes the school board made on breakfast and lunch programs to improve nutrition and health of all children participating in the programs. In addition, the paper addresses four major issues including economic situation, special needs (e.g. health) of the population being served, process, and benefits of the program.
According to Grainger, Senauer, and Runge, 2007, the national school breakfast and lunch program legislation was drafted in 1946 to safeguard the best interests of schooling children and also encourage the consumption of healthy foods. However, the school board has faced critical economic issues regarding the recent changes they made on breakfast and lunch meals. The rising food costs, rising labor costs, and the limited federal resources are major economic issues challenging the success of the program. In fact, the decreasing local and federal financial support on breakfast and lunch program is among the economic issues the school board faces in its newly introduced program. In addition, the expenses associated with producing and serving nutritious meals at school are no longer covered by the school district as before. This puts pressure on the school board when budgeting for the limited federal reimbursements and other revenues generated from food sales to cover all costs of the program and keep the program running. In trying to achieve this, foods and beverages from the vending machines provide competition to school breakfast and lunch program because they are cheaper, but offer less healthy and nutritious contents. Thus, the meals in the program need to cost nearly the same value as other competitive meals, which is economically hard to achieve. The figure below represents the economic percentage lunches and reimbursements for various schools.
The program targets students and it tries to address their health, nutrition, and educational needs. Health issues such as obesity occur due to poor nutrition among pupils who depend entirely on school meals for breakfast and lunch. As a result, many stakeholders have issues with the nutritional quality and healthfulness of school meals. Thus, the school board advocates for change in school breakfast and lunch meals to help reduce the number of children suffering from obesity, and generally improve their health and nutrition. Murphy (2007) provides that 16% of the kids 6-19 years are overweight. This means that children not only need breakfast and lunch at school, but they need a nutritious breakfast rich in potassium, calcium, vitamins, and fiber. Students need nutritious breakfast and lunch meals to enhance their health and academic performance. This can also improve their memory, increase their problem-solving skills, enhance their behavior, and reduce their vulnerability to the risk of obesity. The figure below from the USDA shows healthy students enjoying nutritious lunch at school.
The process of implementing the changes to breakfast and lunch program needs to encompass all the school stakeholders. To begin with, the school board will lay down structures that would ensure proper tendering, preparation, and serving of healthy and nutritious foods. Before, proceeding to implement the program, the board will invite the views from parents, students, teachers, school administrators, and the funding bodies. This will be done either through an open forum during the school general meeting or through online questionnaires to facilitate the implementation of successful breakfast and lunch programs. The school board will request more funds from the federal agencies to support the program because the program needs a lot of money to cover for food and labor expenses. Moreover, parents will be asked to increase the amount of funds they pay for their children to enable the school to improve the diet. Lastly, the department in charge of breakfast and lunch programs will change the way breakfast and lunch are served in school to encourage healthful eating. The catering department will serve meals consistent with USDA nutrition requirements to promote the students’ health and well-being (Morris, Courtney, Bryant, & McDermott, 2010).
There are many benefits associated with the recent changes in the breakfast and lunch program. First, the changed program enables students to have access to healthy and nutritious balanced meals. Second, the program promotes the well-being and health of students and thus improving the child’s learning and cognitive skills. Third, the program brings cash reimbursements to school from the federal agencies and other financial institutions. Lastly, the program would enhance wellness policies in schools to address obesity problems and promote physical activity.
In conclusion, the school breakfast and lunch program improves and safeguards the health and well-being of children who participate in the program.
Grainger, C., Senauer, B., & Runge, C.F. (2007). Nutritional improvements and student foods choices in a school lunch program. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 41 (2). 265-283-
Morris, C.T., Courtney, A., Bryant, C.A., McDermott, R.J., (2010). Grab ‘N’ Go Breakfast at School: Observation from a Pilot Program. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 42 (3): 208-209.
Murphy, J.M. (2007). Breakfast and learning: An updated review. Journal of Current Nutrition and Food Science, 3 (1): 3-36.