When you consider the fact that kids spend more time at school than at home, it’s hard to deny that school plays a major role in the lives of young people in America. Ideas and values are shaped in the classroom just as much as they are at home. With this in mind, it’s important to consider the role school lunches play in the development of a child’s eating habits.
Often, schools struggle to create healthy meals on meager budgets while trying to make sure everyone is fed. With the downturn in the economy, free- and reduced-price lunches are on the rise. Despite the fact that school lunches and snacks may be the only meals some kids get, many schools are finding it difficult to provide affordable healthy options.
In line with the White House initiative to battle childhood obesity, President Obama has signed a new nutrition bill into law. The administration understands the importance of a healthy diet for children, and hopes to change the way kids see food. Both the president and First Lady Michelle Obama have made battling childhood obesity a priority since being brought into office, and this bill increases funding for school nutrition by $4.5 billion nationwide.
How is this bill going to impact our nation’s children? First, it increases federal reimbursement for free school lunches by 6¢ per meal, giving struggling school districts assistance in providing the neediest kids with what may very well be their only guaranteed meal of the day. The bill will also allow for the expansion of the free lunch program and help to provide an additional 20 million after-school meals to hungry kids.
Not only will this bill address the epidemic of childhood obesity, but it will also focus on other issues. Former military officials have admitted that weight problems are the leading medical reason recruits are rejected from military service, something Mrs. Obama credits as a threat to national security. Additionally, hungry kids have a hard time paying attention in school, leading to lower grades and a more difficult time keeping up with the pace of class.
Hopefully, this new bill will relieve some of the financial burden of meal planning, allowing for more healthy meal choices for all students, regardless of family income. Healthy food for children at their schools will give kids the opportunity to grow and learn, which is what school is all about.
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