It’s a term I coined years ago to encompass the holistic components I saw that students need to succeed in school, beyond the academic portion of learning. I define it as:
- Ensuring access and time to eat healthy food during the school day,
- Respecting the need and allowing time for children to have physical movement during the school day as a matter of developmental growth, and
- Respecting students’ need to rest outside of school hours.
So I am really disheartened to see that the Administration is rolling back regulations for healthy school food. It doesn’t make sense to me, since the USDA reports that in 2016, 99% of schools nationwide met standards enacted in the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Schools Act.
Research (and parents) know that kids need to be offered healthy food multiple times before they will accept it. Just ask my five-year-old.
At school, I think we should aspire to offer our students the best options. We know through research what those best and healthy options are – and they don’t include processed white bread and chocolate milk on a regular basis.
In this NY Times article, “Renegade Lunch Lady” Chef Ann Cooper is quoted as also being perplexed at the change. This lady is one of my heroes, whom I’ve had the good fortune to meet several times during my career as I advocate for healthy school food. I’ve even seen some of her schools in Boulder, Colorado, where she serves healthy lunches for literally pennies a day.
I’m grateful that in Fairfax, we have Real Food For Kids, a parent-created advocacy group that has led the charge to improve the food served to our children and staff, and bring salad bars to all of our schools. Unfortunately, it seems that they – and the rest of us – will have to work harder soon to keep our children healthy.