by Dawn Casey-Rowe, Social Studies Teacher and Learnist Evangelist
Back to school season makes me think about lunch.
“You’re supposed to be thinking about teaching,” you might say. Lunch might not seem like an academic topic, but it is–students who are not well nourished do not learn effectively. While some schools have rejected prepared foods in favor of salad bars, chopped veggies, homemade items, and farm to table, these options simply aren’t available for many of our children. The history of school lunch is interesting. Though the first school lunch was provided in New York City in 1853, lunch programs were expanded during the Depression, feeding children and helping farmers to take price-lowering surplus off the market. This created the the standard school lunch, available at prices students could afford, leading to many hungry children being fed.
Some of the resulting items are not as healthy as we might like in today’s health-conscious environment. The good news is that many schools are addressing this. Still, parents often choose to encourage healthy eating by packing lunch for students, saving money in these tough economic times as well. When I was a student a million years ago, it wasn’t cool to bring a lunch. I ate several years of jelly sandwiches supplanted by several more of soup in thermoses, followed by four years of high school cafeteria lunch.
Healthy eating isn’t just an issue for kids–it’s an issue for adults, too, and critical, because we provide the example. Our students and children see how we eat. They emulate us. Healthy lifestyle habits set foundations for success. This is one of the most important issues in school today, in my opinion. I can’t teach effectively to students who haven’t eaten–this happens all the time. As a teacher, I don’t get apples, I toss them to hungry students. Every day.
5 Learnist Resources For Healthier Eating At School
The United States generates mountains of waste related to school lunches, and not every school recycles. Reduce the waste using the waste-free lunch philosophy. Packing a waste-free lunch isn’t that hard. You need a few items that will save you money in the end–and they are very cool for school.
School gardens interest students in food. When students, especially little ones, see their food grow–the miracle of watching the seed grow into the food on the table, they become interested in trying new healthy foods. Although I’m still waiting for this to be true for my son, it’s certainly true for my students.
Packing healthy lunch doesn’t need to be burdensome. It can be fun, too. This board has suggestions and recipes to help you, so that lunch doesn’t get old quick.
This board discusses the issue of kids and healthy food, including the fact that the number one school meal is chicken fingers and french fries–hardly the place we want to be on a regular basis. Healthy school lunches is becoming a large political grassroots movement. How is your state doing?
Kids’ habits are generated and reinforced by adults. Here are some ways to make your own lunch great. Whether you are a parent, teacher, or just interested in health, we can all do a little better. Get a new lunch box, plan out the menus, and have fun! Chances are, you’ll be able to keep a little bit more money in your wallet as well.