Healthy eating habits need to start at home
In Our Opinion
The Healthy Hunger Free-Kids Act was established in 2010 by the Obama Administration to fund free meals in public schools as well as establish new nutrition standards that would benefit students. Although the act attempts to ensure that students get a balanced diet, many children haven’t embraced the new meal standards.
While smaller schools have done well — Cheney has saved around $3,200 a year in their lunch program, according to the Spokesman Review story “Smaller school districts adapting best to new lunch regulations” — other schools have reported losses in revenue and an increase in food waste.
Spokane Public Schools reported 25 percent of fruits and vegetables served to students go into the garbage, according to the article.
Schools in California, New York and Texas have dropped out of the program because students were not eating lunches. According to a study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the number of students who ate school lunches dropped by 1.2 million — or 3.7 percent — from school years 2010-2011 through 2012-2013. In January 2014, The United States Department of Agriculture allowed schools to serve larger portions of meat and protein during lunch and breakfast.
It is important that students get the nutrition they need during the day as it helps them focus on schoolwork. But schools seem to be going over the top in trying to feed kids a balanced diet when they should be getting it at home. While their intentions are good, schools cannot force-feed students food if they don’t want it.
Parents should make it a priority to take care of their child. This includes not only making sure they get enough nutrition in their diet, but also educating them on how to eat healthy and the benefits of eating healthy.
When a person puts something in their body, their mind tells them that it wants more of that food. If children are not exposed to healthy eating habits at an early age, there is a chance they won’t develop those habits in the future.
There are parents who spend a lot of time at work, some having multiple jobs in order to pay the bills. If they work nights and their children are at school during the day, there’s a good chance they won’t see each other during the week.
However, with it being summer, kids are at home, giving families more opportunities to spend time together. They could use this time to do activities that focus on healthy eating — even if it’s just for a few hours a week. This could include parents allowing kids to help make healthy meals in the kitchen. While they are grocery shopping, parents could explain the nutritional values of foods to their children. They should also encourage their children to ask questions about what foods affect their bodies.
Healthier foods— especially fruits and vegetables — can be expensive, but including them in a child’s diet will fill them up quicker than if they just eat processed food. If cost is a concern, families can cut coupons from the newspaper and use them at the grocery store. They can also purchase fruits and vegetables from the local farmer’s market.
For adults who have never practiced healthy eating and unsure where to start, there are several avenues for them to start.
Families can participate in programs that can focus on healthy eating. Cheney School District has cooking classes throughout the school year that provide strategies for families to make healthier and cheaper meals.
Medical Lake is getting ready to roll out their Wellness Policy program, which will encourage community involvement. Local libraries also have cooking classes. If families want to stay home, they can look up healthy recipes and strategies on the Internet.
By giving children the knowledge and tools they need to develop healthy eating habits, they will not only lead healthier lives in and out of the house, but also carry that lifestyle into adulthood and pass the knowledge off to their kids.