A recent chat with a younger sibling of mine has led me to writing this post on nutrition education in schools. He eats like the average middle-class American kid—comes home from school to enjoy a bowl of Goldfish crackers and some string cheese…after his mother denies him of his first choice: a chocolate bar. Curious, I prodded him with some questions about what he learns in school as far as making healthy choices. He mentioned learning about refined sugars and that his P.E. teacher told the class that they shouldn’t have too much of it. Hmm…that’s a start. I asked him what kinds of foods have refined sugars in them, and he was stumped.
I can’t speak for all schools, but in the case of my sibling’s elementary school, it seems like the school is “going through the motions” when it comes to educating students about proper nutrition. It’s great that they are introducing these concepts, but is this education really useful if kids aren’t given examples or are given the opportunity to apply what they learn through activities?
For some children, healthy foods are not accessible, and therefore they do not have the opportunity to make healthy choices. Some communities live in what are called “food deserts,” areas with limited access to grocery stores and fresh, healthy, and affordable foods. Limited access to healthy foods and lack of nutrition education are huge barriers to reducing childhood obesity.
That’s why it is great to see organizations like FoodCorps working to connect kids with healthy foods. FoodCorps is a nationwide non-profit that places service leaders in low-income, limited resource communities. Here corps members educate kids on healthy eating, implement school gardens, and help to bring foods from farms into school lunchrooms. Since August 2012, FoodCorps has reached 49,682 children! With the help of FoodCorps, for the children they reach, healthy choices at school are actually a choice.