Access to unhealthy snacks at school unchanged
February 6th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Access to unhealthy snacks at school unchanged

About half of public and private elementary students could buy unhealthy snacks at school during the 2009-2010 school year from stores, vending machines and snack bars according to survey results released Monday.  The survey was part of a report published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

"Given increasing attention in recent years to the problem of childhood obesity, we would have hoped to see decreases in the availability of junk food in schools over time," said study author Lindsey Turner, health psychologist at the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"Our research demonstrates the continued need for changes to make schools healthier," she added.

The data represents no change in the ability to get the snacks like cookies, candy and chips throughout the four years of the study; the study began in the 2006-2007 school year.

Also that school year, wellness policy mandates went into effect as part of the Child Nutrition and WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Reauthorization Act two years earlier. Each school with a lunch program had to adopt and practice policy that addressed physical activity along with healthy eating.

The survey comes as childhood obesity rates remain high.  2007-2008 statistics show the rate hit 17% for children aged 2 to 19. The rates have nearly tripled since 1980.

In this study, researchers examined data from almost 4,000 surveys of elementary schools nationwide. About two-thirds were from public schools; roughly a third were from private elementary schools.

A principal or a food service employee responded to the surveys on behalf of the students. The researchers weighted the data to provide representation to the students.

Surveys from the southern region showed high rates of access to sweet and salty snacks, especially in comparison to the midwest and west regions.

"I think that's a concern given that the obesity rates are much higher in the South than in other parts of the country," Turner said.

However, many students in this region also had access to buying healthy food, including salads, fruits and vegetables.

The study authors call the results "intriguing" and say much work needs to be done to rid the schools of the unhealthy products.

"To keep kids healthy, it's really important [for the schools] to follow national recommendations," she said. "What our results show is that many schools are not doing that."

The Institute of Medicine in 2007 issued a report stating that if they are available, foods available to students should consist of nutritious fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nonfat or low-fat milk and dairy products.

In December, 2010 the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act was signed into law, which gave the USDA the power to set the standards for foods and beverages sold in school buildings.

As part of the act, the USDA is expected to release the standards for competitive foods this year.

"Our hope based on these data is that the guidelines that are developed will be comprehensive and will consider all venues," Turner said. "Also that those regulations will be strong and that they will be specific- that they will address things like fat content, energy content and portion size."

"There's still a really huge opportunity here to change what's going on in schools," she added.

To do that "solution-oriented" research is needed, says study editorial author, Dr. Thomas Robinson, director of the center for healthy weight at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

Robinson says as local, state and federal policies develop, researchers need to study what's happening.

"So that at the end of 5-10 years, we can say what worked, what didn't work, what could have been improved and how to do it," he said.

"These are young ages when kids are establishing their eating habits and their food preferences, so it's important that they are exposed to fewer of the competitive foods and more of wholesome foods from their school lunches," he added.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded the study.

soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. Matt

    School food is cheap, just like the education. Nothing new.

    February 6, 2012 at 17:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ed

      since taking away gym class and all other PE you expect kids not to get overweight and keep feeding them the same thing get over yourself already put the gym class and the PE class back and see the next generation be slim and fit but no its not about the money it generates yeah right

      February 8, 2012 at 05:57 | Report abuse |
  2. stephanie c

    The main efforts to eat healthy begin at home. Schools cant do it all. Parents need to take their full responsiblity on this one. Dont like the food that the school serves? BYOL! But wait, that takes effort, forethough & work! Parents continually take the easy way out & then blame the school!

    February 6, 2012 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hatixhe

      I put the responsibility to the Government that allows Food Giants to create all the junk food for people (kids+adults) and no one can stop them! They should not be in the market like drugs and alcohol for children.

      February 7, 2012 at 12:08 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      I remember the days when parents would pack kids lunch every day because the schools did not serve lunch. Heck, some kids even went back home to eat. And people in those days had many of the same problems we have now; yet, they still managed to make the most of it. America today has become a society of "pass the buck" to whomever the scapegoat of the day is.

      February 7, 2012 at 12:40 | Report abuse |
    • RN1

      Kudos to you! Your absolutely right parents need to take on the responsibility of teaching their children good eating habits and choices-yet it appears the majority of you feel its the school's responsibilty-NOT Most children in our school district their parents can't even get up out of bed to see them off let alone make a lunch for them- We then wonder why our society is the way it is- Adults too are lazy, and its easier to put the blame on the schools then to grow up and be responsible!

      February 7, 2012 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
    • mucho

      I agree. Since when did parents lose the responsibility of raising (and feeding) their kids? Got a problem with junk food in the school? Pack a healthy snack. Or better yet, educate your kids on why they should be eating healthy.

      February 7, 2012 at 14:59 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Wait, lets get the whole picture. I used to be hell bent against fat people until I became one from chemo therapy. Now its taking me alot of effort and long time to try and get rid of the excess weight i gained. I used to be 20lb under weight. No guidance was given to me by my doctors.
      Now I went to public school and yes they may give you some guidance, 1 semester. But people expect you to know everythying there is about nutrition from that or when you become an adult you are automatically an expert and if your are over weight its because you failed, ITS YOUR FAULT. Why that maybe true for some, there is alot more to the story. Until the USA mandates that all fast food places produce nothing but healthy food and only sell it in single proportions and the same with the restaurants and lunch rooms and give full training to adults of children while they are in the school system yearly then no one can say a darn thing.

      February 7, 2012 at 17:04 | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      Brian, shame on you for hiding behind chemo. I too am a cancer survivor and ex-fat man. I lost my right testicle and underwent 2 years of chemo and treatments. 2.5 years ago i weiged 360 lbs and lost my breath climbing up the stairs of my home. Sadly, the first thing i reached for was a pack of cigarettes and it was that moment that I realized that only I was responsible for my own health. That day I hired a personal trainer and started on my road to a healthier lifestyle. Today I am a healthy 240, a firtness trainer and president of a cancer awarenwss organization. Chemo sucks- nobody will deny that, it makes one feel subhuman. But, do not make that the excuse that you dont enjoy the richness of a healthier lifestyle.

      February 7, 2012 at 20:52 | Report abuse |
    • Belkhir

      Hi Mrs C.,It is michael N. Zacks dad i'm sorry i mesisd out in coming on the 20th but i was not advised of this and i would like to know of any other open nights during the year so i can take a more active interest in his educationThank YouMike N.

      March 3, 2012 at 19:42 | Report abuse |
  3. Voltairine

    "Schools still have unhealthy snacks": I'm sure that all of these unhealthy snacks will disappear from schools just as soon as corporations are prohibited from influencing the government in any way.

    February 6, 2012 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Julnor

      The unhealthy snacks will go away when the kids stop wanting them. If the debate club wants to raise money for a trip do you think they will do better selling candy bars or broccoli? Or perhaps you think the heavy hand of govt should prohibit choice?

      February 6, 2012 at 18:49 | Report abuse |
    • mimi_nef

      They will go away when parents stop giving their kids money to buy them.

      February 6, 2012 at 21:56 | Report abuse |
  4. Julnor

    It is not the school's responsibility to ensure that the students eat healthy. It is the parents' responsibility.

    February 6, 2012 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Amanda

      But if the school is the one making the choices available, it IS their responsibility. The courts have repeatedly ruled that while your kid is under the jurisdictional of the school, the school has certain parental rights (ie punishment) AND responsibilities. I would argue that having lousy food choices is neglecting a responsibility.

      My sister teaches at a poor middle school where most kids are on free lunch. You know what a school-provided breakfast generally consists of? A Trix cereal bar, chocolate milk and fruit snacks (to satisfy the fruit requirement.) That is INSANE. Those kids get 60-75 grams of sugar before 9am. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 12 grams PER DAY for kids. And they wonder why they have behavior and learning problems. The kids get no food in their food.

      February 6, 2012 at 21:23 | Report abuse |
  5. Julnor

    Would you rather the schools spend more money on books & computers or on healthier food? I'll go with the former. I can give my kid lunch, but not textbooks.

    February 6, 2012 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • E

      Without decent foods kids can't learn from those books. It is all connected. The schools should not be providing only junk food.

      February 7, 2012 at 07:29 | Report abuse |
  6. SA

    I always pack my children an extra lunch since they are picky eaters and realize they don’t eat the school lunch. (Yes, I feel it is very wasteful.) Unfortunately, there are many American who can not afford the luxury of packing their children a secondary lunch and rely on the school to provide a nutritious meal/snack. Providing a healthy lunch/snack is just as important as textbooks and computers. When the school system feeds students junk, then all the school will get in return is poor behaviors, low grades and below average pupils.

    February 6, 2012 at 19:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ser

      its 2012 not 1812...who still uses the word pupils when referring to students...LOL

      February 7, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse |
  7. c s

    This is just a small indications of how we treat our children. Dispite all of the talk about how much our society values children, for the most part the only children valued is within their own family. Public schools are under constant pressure to cut spending and having healthy food cost more money. So trying to feed healthy food to children is really a very low priority in our society. Everything else is just talk about how much our society values children.

    February 6, 2012 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Bill A

    It's not that kids won't eat healthy food at school, it's what is being passed off on them. The pre-packaged burgers, corn dogs and pizza they serve are on the way low end in quality. We have a block party twice a year and the kids go nuts over my BBQ chicken and farmers style whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce. Both are done from scratch – no salt added and use 7% fat hamburger for the meat sauce. I did do a science presentation once for the school and ate what they called lunch. Their BBQ chicken had an odd and not pleasing smell to it. Taste not so much. The mashed potatoes had a gritty chemical taste. Kids will eat healthy if it looks and tastes good. What I saw in the school lunchroom was bad.

    February 6, 2012 at 20:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. sharts

    Kids Still Have Stupid Parents

    February 6, 2012 at 20:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hatixhe

      Parents can't fight the Junk Food Giants in this country! Kids will be exposed one way or the other, in schools, birthday and other parties. Dangerous food is sold everywhere in supermarkets and it is FDA approved!!!! What can a single parent, or parents that work 2 jobs or parents that are not highly educated can do????

      February 7, 2012 at 12:14 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      Here's an idea...say "no" and be done with it. We live in a town chock full of fast food restaurants and yet we eat out maybe once every other month. My boys know not to ask–they learned very early on that frequent stops for eating out were not in the financial picture. Ditto for the brightly colored packages of cookies and cereal; I purchase yogurt and apple sauce for them to snack on. Other parents should do the same.

      February 7, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
    • Sayuri

      Bahahahaha. I taught for 9 mohtns in a Chilean public school in Valpara so, lived with a Chilean family, and was in close contact with dozens of other volunteers who did the same in villages, towns, and cities all over the country. This is pure fantasy: the semi-private schools are also a mess, as are all but the most elite of the private schools. People have already noted the protests. When the *students*, who don't even like school, are protesting the quality of their education, we should take notice. Before I trusted any school's high academic achievements, I would conduct an investigation to verify that those are the grades the students actually received, rather than the grades the teachers entered in the book because, setting student learning aside, no one benefits from student failure. (The student can't proceed to the next year; the teacher gets yelled at or fired; the school gets even less money and more hassle.) The problems are complex and very Chilean. The educational culture is thoroughly broken: those 45 kids will have exactly the same classes every day of every week, with no tracking by level. Advanced students are profoundly bored, and the class size means that teachers can't take time with students who are behind or who have different learning styles. Try teaching a class of 45 high school freshmen sometime and see how much you get done. Students who graduate from an ordinary private school (as opposed to an elite children-of-the-wealthy school like St. George's College) still do not graduate prepared for university: pre-university programs are, well, universal. Chile's educational system is another ruin of Pinochet's dictatorship. If you'd like to learn more about it from people who actually experience it, I suggest contacting the volunteer organization WorldTeach: they've been running a volunteer program in Chile for many years and would be happy to help you understand the challenges and problems of the system there. However, to imagine that school choice has magically fixed things is just a conservative wet dream.

      March 3, 2012 at 21:15 | Report abuse |
  10. Sara

    schools need to stop serving these foods. as michelle obama would say, thats not healthy... DO SOMETHING!!!

    February 6, 2012 at 21:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jimlaee

      You're right. Anything with high fructose corn syrup should be required to also contain ritalin.

      February 7, 2012 at 11:11 | Report abuse |
    • Hatixhe

      Can she fight Food Corporations?

      February 7, 2012 at 12:15 | Report abuse |
    • ser

      @hatixhe-you don't have to be smart or rich to buy some fruit and veggies...complete cop out

      February 7, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse |
    • Hatixhe

      @ ser: Not everybody is educated enough to understand that not everything offered in supermarket or schools is eatable. If the Government does not stop Junk Food Industry, they need to educate people not to buy junk food. I don't know what is more efficient, starting from the head or the tail.

      February 7, 2012 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
  11. MashaSobaka

    Do you honestly think that if kids are served only salads and fruit at school they won't rip open a bag of potato chips as soon as they get home, and then wash it down with a soda? Healthy eating begins in the home, not in school.

    February 6, 2012 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • E

      you think your kid will eat the lunch you packed when there is mac and cheese, ice cream and a coke in front of them? There are hundreds more healthier foods than just salads.

      February 7, 2012 at 07:31 | Report abuse |
  12. FeelingHealthy

    I believe that the schools can clear this up easily but I also think that there are things at home that need to be addressed too. In middle school, we had vending and soda machines that were stocked once a month. At the end of the day, after they were freshly stocked, everything in there was sold out. Also, we had a "snack shack" that had one or two healthy choices out of about 50. We would be waiting in line for 15 minutes just to grab something from there. Lastly, in high school our vending machines were only turned on before school, during lunch, and after school. They tried to put healthy choices in there but those never sold. Kids spend a majority of their day at school. When there are options that are that easily accessible, the kids won't think twice about buying something that isn't the healthiest. Schools need to take out all "junk" food and keep in the healthy food but the parents also need to show their children that making healthy choices won't only decrease their chances of having health problems but give them the right energy to have a great day. I would propose that children in elementary, middle/ junior high school have packed lunches. As a parent, you can show your kid what are good things to put in the lunch and what are the bad things. It can be a teaching moment when you are helping them pack their lunch. By the time they get in high school, they will have the skills to make the right choices because of the things you taught them.

    February 6, 2012 at 22:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Robin Caceres

    As a parent, nurse, wife of a cardiologist, and activist toward policy change in my children's own school, I say disease prevention and health promotion absolutely begins at home. So, parents leave your home and go to your school! Find out what is really happening, and then get involved in making it better!! When we know better, we do better. The time has come that our prevention efforts need to surpass our treatment efforts when it comes to childhood morbidity secondary to obesity and sedentary lifestyle. This comes from one empowered mother of 4 in the most obese county in Illinois. We are making baby steps forward to improve our nutritional support during school hours, despite barrier after barrier, from parent, teacher, worried administrator, all the way to resistant lunch lady. Just keep at it!

    February 6, 2012 at 23:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ser

      you are like the Rage Against the Machine of the cafeteria....you GO girl

      February 7, 2012 at 12:23 | Report abuse |
    • Selma

      Brendan, you are so right about Roemer Shirley's duitttae, and it is an duitttae shared by too many people in positions of influence and authority. I am happy you got your girls in a good school. It shouldn't be hard to get your child in a decent school; no school system should or should be allowed to write off kids who have parents with issues or problems [and it's not just physical, psychological or intellectual issues–what about the parents who are too damn selfish or self-absorbed to care?]; school should work for kids whether their parents can or will spend x number of hours a year or week or whatever volunteering or can write a check every month [and it is like that–every month, there's something]. If it's not available to all, then where's the reform? How is it better than before? Answer: it's NOT.And a school that charges for materials or asks for deposits or donations or outright cash should not call itself public. A letter needs to be written on your behalf, and the behalf of other parents like you, to that principal. I am sure they are not trying to be exclusive but they need to know that some policies are unfair and impact parents and children in ways they are not taking into account. I wish you all the best. Thanks for dropping by.

      March 4, 2012 at 01:50 | Report abuse |
  14. Kate

    "Robinson says as local, state and federal policies develop, researchers need to study what's happening. So that at the end of 5-10 years, we can say what worked, what didn't work, what could have been improved and how to do it," he said.

    How ridiculous! They need 5 – 10 years to study the problem? A problem that did not exist in the 1950's, 60's, 70's or even the 80's when kids had very little access or no access to junk food at school! The problem is that a kid that has access to a soda machine can drink 5 sodas a day if he/she wants to because teenagers don't exactly make the right choices when it comes to food. So if all schools would stop allowing vending machines on school property, maybe then this country would see a drop in the rates of childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The truth is no matter how much I drill it into my son's brain that soda is bad for him and he is not to buy it at school, he will. Why? Because his friends will be drinking it and kids don't like being different. It's important for them to fit in so I think it's impossible for parents to really have any control over what their children are consuming at school. But, who really cares right? As long as the big soda companies keep making huge profits by getting everyone addicted to their chemical concoctions of genetically modified high fructose corn syrup, caffeine, food dyes, fake flavoring and of course phosphoric acid, that's the only important thing, right?

    February 7, 2012 at 03:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. annecorbett

    Major brands always give out their popular brand samples (in a way to promote the products) best place on the internet is "Get Official Samples" find them & enjoy your samples

    February 7, 2012 at 04:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sabine

      It is a known fact that Questeq has cost the district thosuands of dollars to run the district's technology department and the rasd web page. We all see what the Superintendent has posted on this site, which was a personal blog. Any of the facts in the newsletter can be varified by researching minutes of the board meetings. There were furloghs of teachers, kitchen staff, custodians, aides, and maintenance people, that is a known fact. I also know that Mrs. Glover was not certified in Special Education and she was transferred from Assistant Principal. Seems to me that all these facts are correct. I know my taxes are high and the increase have been frequent. The minutes also state how the members voted unanimous or if there were no votes. The minutes are available for anyone to look at, so if you doubt any of the information, just go spend some time researching them.Well-loved.

      October 14, 2012 at 00:38 | Report abuse |
  16. gager

    Schools should be vending machine free areas. Will kids get hungry? Yes, they are supposed to get hungry. Getting hungry is normal and helps to eat healthy.

    February 7, 2012 at 05:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Conrad Shull

    Kids don't move. That's why they are fat. One demographic of young people LOVE fast food and lots of it but are almost never overweight – skaters. At most schools, riding bikes to school is actively discouraged and special permission is needed to do so.

    February 7, 2012 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Jdub3

    Obesity has passed smoking as the top health threat in the USA. 17% of students are obese, 33% are overweight, and 31% are at risk of becoming overweight. Making unhealthy foods unavailable at schools may not be the answer, but it would sure help. If gone about the right way we have an amazing opportunity to change these current trends for the better. Instead of removing physical education from schools which would be counterproductive, we should begin removing vending machines and snack bars. I would also like to address a topic that most parents are extremely sensitive about. I don't understand why a student’s first experience in a health classroom comes in late Jr. High or early High school. If healthy habits are a product of a routine why are we not educating students on these issues earlier in life before these negative habits have a chance to begin? Perhaps if implemented earlier in a child’s life topics such as nutrition and fitness could be explained further to our nations students. If you are 22 years or younger you are the first generation not expected to outlive your parents. Let’s change that people!!

    February 7, 2012 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. cerena

    read it

    February 7, 2012 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Danilo

      This dirty politics crap ditugsss me! I like a lot of other certainly want to see a new board at that school. Lord knows it is needed.The letter that was in yesterdays mail does have a few errors first of all don't tell ME who not to vote for. You can give me facts if you feel that is helpful, I can decide myself who to vote for. Second- principals do not have contracts- The devil herself oh I mean Carolyn Wilkovitch stressed Gaida out of the district- the sorry board just allowed her to harass the hell out of that poor man.Third- Don't misrepresent your self by placing a return address that is not yours on the envelope.The biggest flaw of all in that letter is the lack of more info regarding how these people are impeding our childrens education and safety- lord knows that school is lacking. That info would have been much more effective.Those people who placed that flier in those church bulletins- God will get you, and Wilkovitch as well- he already has his eye on your demise anyway. You ought to change your evil ways.You people go to church, say your prayers, put your money in the collection plate and you will burn in hell anyway because you conduct yourselves like the devils advocate in every other aspect of your lives.I won't be supporting this sort of behavior. None of you will have my vote. You have ALL stooped to a new low! Shame on all of you!Well-loved.

      October 12, 2012 at 06:36 | Report abuse |
  20. Mike

    Schools are absolutely at fault, but more importantly school districts are at fault and so are our local, state, and federal governments. Many parents cannot afford to pack their kids' lunch. Parents cannot police how often children visit the soda machines at school or the vending machines. Lunch rooms across the nation serve children the equivalent of SLOP because it is cheap and quick to prepare. I think sometimes parents feel like this is taking the choice away from them and their children but for eight hours a day children are in the care of the public school system, therefore the public school system has every right to say there will be vending machines on school grounds.

    February 7, 2012 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hatixhe

      Well said!

      February 7, 2012 at 13:53 | Report abuse |
  21. Hannah.

    In my opinion as a student in high school, is why is there even an issue with vending machines... If a child is over wieght and shouldn't be eating any more sweets who the hell are you or any one else to tell them no. They make the dicision, and they know what they are doing to themselves. I have diabetes, and I know know when i start to get sick and I need sugar, I thank god theres a vending machine! I am only about 115pounds, and the vending machine is in my daily routine. I am perfectly healthy. Now parents worry about what your feeding your own kids on your time with them..

    February 7, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. HH

    I'm sick of the food police. Not every child and adult is overweight or diabetic. Educate the kids on academics, and get away from our plates.

    February 7, 2012 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Portland tony

    By allowing vending machines the schools are just making up for the shortfall in educational funding. After all, the schools do get a cut of the profits!

    February 7, 2012 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. mtr

    duh!. How about the lunches and breakfasts. The school my son goes to gives breakfast (muffin tops, or cinnamin rolls-filled with sugar, and it's required they be offered in the classroom. The lunches are all fried chicken nuggets, or mini pizzas or hot dogs. What kind of health food it that.

    Bring back the school llunch ladies, you know, the ones who cooked on premises and thenserved things like meatloaf, lasagne, spaghetti, or real food, not the Junk they have now. Then, give them 45 minutes to eat (and stop the screaming at them...hurry up....hurry up..... I'd bet there would be less obesity in children if they had this, and time to go outside and play after lunch.

    February 7, 2012 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kelly

      My kids often have 20 minutes to eat. They bring a home lunch often and sometimes don't even get to have their drink. Who can eat a meal in 20 minutes? So they have shortened their lunch time and taken away recess as well...gee I wonder why we have an obesity problem. They have to shovel junk food and have no time to burn it off.

      February 7, 2012 at 19:35 | Report abuse |
  25. Jackie Cruz-Rendon

    I would like to point out that the state of Texas has the Texas Public School Nutrition Policy that prohibits this type of practice. I think it would have been useful to include this state's policy in the study.

    February 7, 2012 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Memo

    Wow! People cannot take responsibility for their kids and there own life. People need to blame someone else rather than looking at themselves and realizing that they failed their own child. If you dont like what is available for your kid pack them a lunch. I have no hope for this country sometimes.

    February 7, 2012 at 17:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nabila

      May 5: Some more input on the Change of Calendar idea. By the way the Board passed the oitmon to consult with parents and staff on this idea and I will keep you posted on this opportunity as it arises. In the interim here are some more comments.From J M-EI am strongly opposed to having a break in November and coming back earlier in the summer. There are already many three or four day breaks in the schedule as schools use their PD days in combination with weekends. In fact November often has one of those in combination with Remembrance day if it falls on the right day. In addition a break in November would then be followed by a two week break in December. I much prefer a more reliable consistent learning routine which does not require alternative arrangements for child care/learning during the breaks. Breaks from school need to be associated with optimal learning for the child and optimal functioning within the family environment. In many families both parents work and child care arrangements become more complicated with a week here and two weeks there and a day here. I parent two children. I asked the one who is about to graduate his thoughts and he was strongly opposed to a break in November and a shorter summer- this is associated with the desire to work and have more opportunities to take advantage of good weather for other activities. For the younger one who has a disability, I am always struggling with changes in routine. It is hard for him to get back into the routine after spring break as it is. Adding another one in November and then again in December will not benefit his learning nor the ease of maintaining a routine for him. I am not sure where this idea has originated. If there is research indicating that this works well for all students of all ages and stages and abilities then I would be supportive. If there is another avenue for providing input, do let me know.

      March 4, 2012 at 10:18 | Report abuse |
  27. kelly

    I am a teacher and I know from first hand experience that it is the school lunches themselves that have poor nutrition. Elementary school children do not have access to vending machines. I wonder who comes up with these menus that are supposed to be healthy? Such as nacho/taco day where there is actually no taco but corn chips served with meat or frozen pb&j crustables loaded with presevatives. Cafeteria workers do not monitor what kids choose to put on their tray and so this essentially leaves it up to a child between 5 and 10 years old to make healthy food choices without guidance. I don't know many children at this age who are able to independently select healthy foods to eat.

    February 7, 2012 at 19:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Darisse Smith

    Why are we going to all of this trouble with school lunches when in many school districts recess and P.E. are cut out? Kids aren't getting nearly enough exercise and that along with unhealthy eating is causing childhood obesity. When I was a kid, we had structured P.E., recess and then came home to play outside with siblings and/or neighborhood friends. This rarely happens in kids' lives today, though safety is a bigger concern. Stop cutting physical activity from our kids' daily routines!

    February 7, 2012 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Simone

    I'm currently in middle school and our school cafeteria has junk food and all the healthy whole grains, fruit, ect. mentioned above. It isn't the schools' fault that the kids are becoming overweight or obese, I'm not blaming the kids either but most kids at my school will pick the junk food option. They could get a whole wheat sanwhich with fruit but they're choosing the pizza or the hamburger.

    February 7, 2012 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jannette

      Exactly...very good point. I work in a middle school cafeteria and we offer generally a very good selection of healthy foods, and no vending machines are available. But the vast majority of kids are not interested in healthy. Start being parents, teach your kids the proper way to eat, and quit expecting the schools to be babysitters. The school system is there to teach, they can't possible raise your children.

      February 8, 2012 at 00:08 | Report abuse |
  30. Abby

    IIn my high school, the vending machines were locked until after school. Kids didn't starve. We also had 3 flights of stairs to walk up and down to get to our classes. And we didn't have all these bad choices like I've seen on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. We had 2 choices for lunch: either the hot entree or a ham/turkey sandwich. And you know what? The "fat kids" were few and far between! This was only 10 years ago, I imagine it's still the same today.

    February 8, 2012 at 10:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Sarah

    If we take away P.E., recess, half of lunch . . . Children in elementary school typically have between two and three recesses, AND lunch, and these are the kids who usually come home and run around chasing pets, or play tag in the backyard with their friends. In middle and high school, when children spend nearly all of their time out of school working on homework, they've got twenty minute lunch breaks and NO recesses. P.E. is being cut out of schedules, it's not allowed to go outside during lunch . . . it's not the access to junk food that's the problem, it's what the kids can do after they eat it. With the current system, what they do after eating it is sit around for five hours until dinner.

    February 8, 2012 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ABC

      Elementary kids are starting to not play or have recess either. Recess in grade schools is being cut for more classroom time. I work for a children's hospital, in a recent survey done here, it was almost unanimously answered by children that "playing" was something inside, many kids don't go outside anymore, they stay inside and play video games.

      February 9, 2012 at 14:20 | Report abuse |
  32. KITTY

    Bottom line people is this.....stop eating GMO foods and stop letting the government decide what is best for our children. We as parents need to take control and give our children the right to good healty food and not let corportate greed and corupt government tell us what is best. Check out Revolution Foods best idea yet

    February 9, 2012 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Jakub

    Awesome! You have truly captured the scsenee of a huge problem.As a parent and one who has dealt first hand with this situation for more than 15 years. These are some of my observations.1. Money. The education budget is an expense. Our culture preaches ans teaches profit and since no one can make a profit off of public education, they really have just dismissed it as a headache, an expense. They are always looking at ways to cut the budget rather than increasing the capability. No administrator has every cut their salary, they'd rather let go of teachers or close a school.2. Racism and Class System. We need to quit ignoring the problem and admit it. If you are a child of color and of poverty, you will go to a school that has less opportunity and poor quality. Additionally, if you struggle slightly, they will label you and put you in a lower track and say they are not leaving you behind. If I white kid with the same grades struggles, they are given support, they graduate with a B average and can qualify for a 4 yr school. You graduate with a B+ average and you don't qualify.3. Lack of pressure. No change has every happen for disadvantaged people unless there is a catastrophic event that causes the elite class pressure. If we keep seeing the current trend of education, oppressed people with no hope will revolt. Just pray their is a Martin Luther to preach non-violence this time.I recently had an hour discussion with my kids principal, so they are known and will not be mis-labeled or just cast aside but how many people have the time or a principal to give them an hour. We live in a very diverse culture and sometimes real narrow minded one. I try to help as many as I can along this journey, I just hope others take up the cause and help as many kids and families as possible.Good article, real good.

    March 4, 2012 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
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