Food In Schools: To Eat Or Not To Eat? Fairleigh Dickinson University English Essay

1600 words - 7 pages

Food in Schools - To Eat or Not to Eat?
Kristy Agresta, BSN, RN, CSN-NJ
A controversy that has been plaguing school districts near and far has been food and its
place in the educational system. Food has long since functioned in various ways: birthday
and holiday celebrations, to increase funding, student incentives and rewards, class projects,
and multicultural experiences. Often times when this conversation starts and change of food
policy begins, the assumption is automatically that it is due to those with food allergies. With
childhood obesity rates increasing rapidly, food allergies are most certainly a factor
contributing to evolving food policy, but it is most certainly not the only one. That leaves the
burning question on everyone’s mind: Food has no doubt a place in the school setting, but
what is that place?
Children spend a majority of their day in school, approximately 1,000 hours per year. 1 in 6
children and adolescents are affected by obesity (Childhood obesity facts, 2017). The
education system is in a unique position to combat the nation-wide health crisis that is
plaguing our children. Why is finding a healthy medium for food culture so important? Simply
stated, healthy children are better learners. Research has shown that consistent healthy
nutrition is linked to better overall behavioral and academic outcomes. Children that eat
healthy are less likely to develop cardiovascular conditions, obesity, diabetes, or dental
carries.
Policy Trends: Relax, It’s Just Food
Some parents, educators, and students believe a few parties every month and consumption
of a few “harmless indulgences” is not only part of many school’s cultures, traditions, and
ethos, but is a right of passage. Some go so far as to say that removing food sharing and
parties from the classroom is an attack on personal choice and civil liberties. This sentiment is
expressed in school districts’ decidedly relaxed food policies. The United States Department
of Agriculture (USDA) implemented legislation that requires school districts to update
wellness policies to reflect new federal regulations and guidelines. Some components of the
updated requirements include:
1. Ensuring that all food and beverages sold on school property during the school day are
aligned with federal regulation,
2. Crafting policy for all other food related activities that meet the individual needs of the
school or district,
3. Marketing only for items meeting the appropriate nutrition standards,
4. Informing the public of nutritional changes,
5. Including stakeholders and leaders in decision making processes from various arenas of
education and the community, and
6. Ensure the wellness policy has specific goals, evidence based strategies to achieve them,
and evaluation methods (Team nutrition, 2017).
Because federal regulations pertain predominately to food products sold on school property,
local education authorities are left to design and implement policy for all other food brought
onto campus...

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