It was during the early 1900s that the parents and teachers began realizing the importance of the child’s level of nutrition in uplifting the overall academic performance. Giving importance to the same, President Barrack Obama in 2010 signed the “Healthy” –the Hunger-free Kids Act. The main objective of this act was to uplift the minimum level of nutrition and health standards for the lunches at most of the public schools. The act served to be a vital part of the National School Lunch Program in America.
There is no denying the fact that what we tend to eat on a daily basis has a direct impact on the overall physical as well as mental development of the body. As such, nutrition has a major impact on the student’s life as well. Right from shaping their academic performance to impacting the classroom behaviors, the nutritional levels and proper nourishment play vital roles in enhancing the overall life conditions of the young hearts.
As per the reports of the Government Accountability Office in the United States of America, it was found that during the year 2012-13, providing healthy school lunches in most of the public schools in America helped the students in performing better academically as well as in improving the overall health.
The Current State of the School Lunches in America
The SNA (School Nutrition Association) is the largest organization in America concerned with providing high-quality, nutritional lunches in the schools of America. With its group of around 55,000 members, the SNA provides a proper fact sheet stating the statistics about the current state of the school lunches in the nation.
Through the given program, around 10,000 public schools & institutions in America are currently serving school lunches across the nation. Of the total 30 million school students being served:
- Around 2 million of the students are receiving free school lunches –the students who belong to the families with income status below 130% of the poverty level.
- Around 5 million students are receiving affordably-priced school lunches –the students belonging to the families with incomes status between 130 & 185 percent of the poverty level.
- Around 7 million students are known to pay the full amount for school lunches
The given data, however, points out one of the major drawbacks in the system. If around 19.2 million of the school students are receiving free school lunches due to the socioeconomic status, then school lunches would only serve to be their daily doses of nutritional food each day.
Impact of School Lunches & Nutrition the Students
For several years, the scientists all around the world have been studying the relationship between the level of nutrition and the academic performance of the school students. In the year 2008, the Journal of School Health revealed a study report that discovered that 5th graders who ate fast food on a daily basis scored far worse on the given standardized literary assessments. The reports of the study linked the relationship between eating fast food and declining reading & math scores.
There are several direct effects of the high level of nutrition on the daily performance of the students. Behavioral and mental problems could be traced back to poor eating habits and unhealthy nutrition.
Nutritional deficiencies in essential components including vitamins, zinc, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to affect the overall cognitive development of school kids. There is also proof that suggests that the diets containing a higher amount of trans & unsaturated fats could have a negative impact on the overall cognitive skills of the young kids. Such a diet would harm the ability of the school-going children to learn at a rapid pace –which is necessary for success in school life.
The scientists have also revealed the link that exists between the nutrition and behavior of the school students. When the students receive proper access to higher levels of nutrition through school lunches, it helps them in maintaining psychological well-being and reducing stress & aggression. A high-quality, nutrition-diet diet through the school lunches could have a positive impact on the students as they are able to avoid school suspensions and indiscipline effectively.
The indirect effects of the lack of proper nutrition in the school lunches or diets of the school-going students could have detrimental effects on the overall performance of the students –over the passage of time. The students who tend to follow unhealthy lifestyles are more likely to fall sick more often than those who consume healthy, nutrition-rich diets on a daily basis. The illnesses can then affect the performance of the students as they tend to miss more classes –being sick or not healthy. When the students do not attend classes, they are more likely to fall behind the others in the class. To top it all, when students following unhealthy lifestyles are in the class, they might have little energy and major concentration issues. All of these factors tend to affect the overall academic performance of the students significantly.
The Future of School Lunches & Academic Performance in America
Most of the public schools in America in the current era are aware of the importance of the high-quality school lunches for boosting the academic performance of the school students. Nutritional school lunches can have a direct impact on ensuring the overall well-being of the students –both inside as well as outside the school environment. As such, more schools are given assessment lessons on emphasizing the importance of nutritional school lunches for their students.
By maintaining a proper balance of health & nutrition through the school lunches, the schools in America can boost the overall performance of the students quite easily. As such, it is high time that schools across the nation follow the nutritional charts as provided by the government bodies to ensure the overall well-being of the students.