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My Thoughts on the Growing Demand for Healthy Eating Options in Schools

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If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that children benefit from healthy food. The vast majority of parents of school-age children favor nutrition standards for foods and beverages served in schools, according to a recent Pew poll.

The poll also found that:

  • 91 percent of parents support a mandatory serving of fruits or vegetables with every meal served in schools

  • 75 percent of parents think sodium content should be limited

  • 74 percent of parents are concerned about childhood obesity

  • 72 percent of parents support standards for school snacks.

Additionally, most parents don’t consider the nutritional quality of snack foods and beverages traditionally sold in schools to be healthy.

Healthy meals are as important to learning as school supplies

Many children consume half their daily meals during school hours. That means what kids eat at school has a huge impact on their overall health.

When you think about the fact that most kids consume about half their calories during the school day, it’s easy to realize that what they eat can impact academic performance. Teachers say that kids have a harder time learning when they’re hungry or feeling sluggish from junk food and sugar crashes. We’ve all seen our kids on a sugar high. It’s definitely not conducive to learning.

Replacing junk food in vending machines with healthier snacks and drinks is a great way to keep kids fueled throughout the day. The bottom line? Healthy kids are better prepared to learn.

Long-term health risks and benefits

In a food system dominated by processed foods, access to healthy food is a serious problem for many kids. Childhood obesity affects one-third of American children and many are at risk for long-term health consequences such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

The good news is that these health conditions are preventable. The American Heart Association reports that children who eat healthy foods and get daily physical activity have fewer school absences, higher academic achievement, higher self-esteem and have fewer behavioral problems. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) can help kids grow healthy and strong.

Healthy Appetite for Learning

Good nutrition at school is more important than ever, leading to improved focus and sustained energy, both of which kids need to stay focused. With a national focus on healthy foods in schools, we can help U.S. schools provide healthier foods and put our kids on a lifelong path to a healthier lifestyle.

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