As parents, we should be able to rely on our school system to provide a balanced and healthy school lunch, but that is not always the case.
Many mornings I would walk into the school cafeteria where I taught to retrieve my students for the start of an awesome learning day but what I saw on their trays turns my stomach! Thankfully, I am able to provide a healthy and nutritious breakfast for my own children every morning. I made it a point to wake up an hour earlier to prepare a high quality lunch my kids could take to school. However, not many parents are able to do that and it’s understandable.
Sadly, parents are not able to depend on our school system for healthy lunch choices. The impact of an “unhealthy choice” can affect a child’s functioning during the day. I saw this firsthand in my classroom. Many times, my students would enter the classroom either completely exhausted or overly energized–their breakfast either weighed them down or brought them up a few amps.
Parents shouldn’t have to worry about this but they must! What children eat in school is extremely noticeable by teachers. Their lunch seemed to impact their behavior in class. Often, I would observe how difficult it was for them to stay focused after consuming junk food for one of their main meals. Now that a salad bar has been introduced to the menu at our school, some progress has been made. Honestly though, last year, I even felt hypocritical allowing my child to eat what they served in the cafeteria each day.
Many times children are rushed to eat their meals in school because there just isn’t enough time. This leads them to either scarfing their food or not even eating a full meal. Empty stomachs lead to hunger while overstuffed bellies can cause discomfort and “spike and crash” syndrome when they eat too much sugar. Either way, kids are left unable to function and then we wonder why our kids don’t perform so well or why they misbehave. Can you function on an empty belly or one that’s cramping? Neither can I! It’s definitely a discussion we must have.
Healthy choices for our children must become a priority for our schools. The foods our kids consume in school can affect their attention, behavior, academic performance, and well-being.
As educators, parents, and concerned citizens, we must make this a priority and be the voice that our children need. If we want a brighter future filled with successful adults (and who doesn’t?) then let’s ensure our kids are receiving the proper nutrition they deserve to help their precious bodies and minds grow.
How can we advocate for better lunch for our children so that they can have a more productive school day?
By: Eileen Carter-Campos (@MommyT3aches)
New York City Educator & Freelance Writer
Named as a Top Latina Blogger in 2013 by Latism
Nominated for Hispano Blogger & Social Revolucion SXSWi 2013 Awards
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