The following is a guest post by Sarah Fudin from USC Rossier Online. I was intrigued by this topic because, as a school counselor, I often work with students who struggle with their weight and those who depend on free or reduced school lunches. The two, of course, are not always related, nor do they have to be.
After reading Sarah's post, share your thoughts on school lunches.
Childhood obesity is a serious problem. According to an infographic produced by USC Rossier Online, one in three school-age children are obese or overweight. Despite this, only 18 percent of high school cafeterias offer fruits and vegetables to purchase, while 50 percent offer chocolate. For schools to help combat childhood obesity, which can lead to diabetes and other health complications, healthy eating needs to happen in school cafeterias. The following are some of the benefits of healthy eating for students:
Healthier food choices prevent unhealthy weight gain. According to Livestrong, many of the foods typically offered in school cafeterias, like pizza and fries, contain a lot of saturated fat and calories. These foods also make children sluggish, so they are less active. Lunches should be high in essential nutrients and incorporate fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This ensures that students will feel full, but not uncomfortably so, and they have more energy for recess and gym. Choose My Plate has information on the five food groups and portion recommendations.
Positive Behavior Effects
Good Morning America reports that Appleton Central High School, an alternative school is Wisconsin, had major behavioral issues and a high dropout rate. After taking the soda out of vending machines and replacing them with juice and water, as well as replacing standard cafeteria fare of pizza and fries with fruit, vegetables and whole grains, disciplinary issues decreased dramatically. Teachers credited the lunch program with the major behavior improvements, and students reported that their concentration levels increased and that they had more energy. When children eat well, they simply feel better and are more alert.
Livestrong again states that healthy food feeds the brain. As previously mentioned, fatty foods make children sluggish and healthy foods make them more alert and active. This translates to increased concentration and motivation in the classroom. When a child feels alert and well, he is more receptive to learning new information and participating in lessons. After all, you cannot learn if you are asleep.
Establishing healthy menus at school and encouraging healthy choices through the curriculum leads to healthier habits later in life. If eating healthy is obviously valued at school, children will more likely promote good eating habits at home. They will make better choices as adults, decreasing their likelihood of being overweight and developing serious health problems. The infographic cited above reports that children that are obese have an increased likelihood of having high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, trouble breathing and joint issues. These are very serious issues that could not only take away from quality of life and self-esteem — they can kill. Thus, promoting healthy habits now can lead to longer, more successful and happier lives tomorrow.
I recently stumbled upon a new blog called School Counseling Across the Pond: Collecting & Sharing Ideas from a Distance. Blog author, Lauren Seaberg, writes about her work as a school counselor at ACS Hillingdon International School, located in the UK.
While I was reading her first two posts, I have to admit that I was a little jealous. I have always had a strange obsession with historic buildings and the idea of working in one seems surreal; it's like a set for Masterpiece Classic.
On Thursday, August 16th, all 8 elementary school counselors in my district got together for a Pinterest Party! Each school counselor brought materials for at least one project. It was unbelievably fun and energizing! I thought I'd share some of the projects we made, with links to the actual Pinterest activities. Also, two of my brave colleagues agreed to explain a couple of their ideas on camera. Enjoy!
I went back to school today and let's be honest, I was a little nervous about my summer vacation officially ending. While I feel more confident with each passing year, I am still a bit apprehensive about jumping back into the countless demands placed on a school counselor's shoulders.
To top it off, we decided to have a Pinterest craft party this Thursday. We'll be making some of our favorite Pinterest projects together so we are ready to start the year. In order to keep my lovely web followers in the loop, I'll be taking some video of the party so you can see how everything turns out. I hope we don't end up with items suitable for "Pinterest Projects Gone Wrong." Stay tuned!