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Thursday, July 22, 2010

School Food Not Reaching Students

One day Chef Jamie Smith walked into a classroom and asked the students what they had for breakfast. He says that 50 to 60 percent said nothing, while one student said that he had Skittles. While studies show that eating healthy meals helps students learn better, kids in Santa Cruz aren’t eating well at all, despite everything the district has done to encourage healthier meals. Smith, an award-winning chef, was hired by the school district to provide nutritious meals for students, with support from state and federal subsidies, but kids are not taking advantage of the food available to them.

Even with healthier, tastier meals, fewer students are having a hearty cafeteria breakfast or lunch.

Officials say that the problem is most often related to the socioeconomic circumstances of the families. In homes where both parents work, it is enough of a struggle to get the kids to school on time. Getting them there early for breakfast is practically impossible.

Then there is the immigration issue. Many parents who are here illegally believe that registering their children for meal programs will require them to give a social security number, which they do not have. They fail to realize that no social security number is required. The statistics speak for themselves. In Gault Elementary School, for instance, 270 students are eligible for free and reduced price meals, but only 40 take advantage of the program.

As the coming school year approaches, officials are looking at various ways to encourage greater participation in school meal programs. For them it means not only healthier kids—and obesity resulting from poor food choices is a major problem in Santa Cruz County—but also kids who are able to learn better. After all, who can concentrate on an empty stomach? Read more at the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

posted by CASFS 2006 @ 9:41 PM


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