In 2011, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation sponsored a nationwide contest rewarding the healthiest schools with recognition. Four elementary schools in New York City scored high by distinguishing themselves with “healthy eating and physical activity programs and policies that meet or exceed stringent standards.” One took chocolate milk off the menu; one offered yoga classes for kindergarteners and their mothers; one taught health and wellness classes to staff members at lunch; while another offered kids a cooking class.
At the same time, the gigantic L.A. Unified School District, which had removed soda from its school cafeterias in 2002, banned chocolate and strawberry flavored milk, because of its sugar content. The schools of Berkeley, CA, and Boulder, CO, also shunned those drinks.
Playgrounds and farms
In the summer of 2011, Indiana, one of the unhealthiest states, was a mess, so the nonprofit organization KaBOOM! created three new playgrounds. As an anti-obesity measure, 10 of the city’s public schools initiated fruit and vegetable gardens for the benefit of students, teachers, and the community.
In the fall, Indianapolis Parks Foundation and Indiana University Health got together to form Indy Urban Acres, an organic farm project that is still active, providing food, education, and volunteer opportunities to local residents.
At the higher education level, the 19 hospitals collectively known as IUHealth teamed with Green B.E.A.N. Delivery to form “Garden on the Go.” The truck still sells fresh produce in low-income areas of Indianapolis, but is currently closed due to the pandemic crisis — a real shame because its customers are in serious need of food availability.
Schools across America
The cost to prepare a school meal includes labor, benefits, food, and transportation. Nationwide, it hovered around $3.09. Idaho got used to the idea that, because of a new federal law requiring more fruits and vegetables, school meal prices would go up. In those days, an elementary school lunch was $1.50 and a secondary school lunch was $1.75.
A New Hampshire senator, among others, asked the federal government to rethink the new school lunch requirements that had been announced, in order to comply with the previous year’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The Food Service Director of Maine noted that while fulfilling the new rules would cost as much as an additional 64 cents per plate, the federal government was expected to reimburse states only an additional 6 cents per plate.
The aspect that really bothered many people was that the money to pay for this would be extracted from SNAP and other food programs. Sure, in the long run, society and the government as a whole would recoup the costs by needing to treat less obesity. But meanwhile, the availability of funding was a sore point everywhere.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Four city schools recognized as among nation’s healthiest,” GothamSchools.org, 06/16/11
Source: “Hitting The Streets: Health System Offers More Than Words In Fight Against Obesity, Indiana University Health,” MedicalNewsToday.com, 06/17/11
Source: “School lunch prices will go up,” IdahoPress.com, 06/14/11
Source: “Ayotte calls on feds to reconsider new school lunch requirements: Says they are too costly to implement,” Fosters.com, 08/08/11
Image by woodleywonderworks/(CC BY 2.0)