Benefits of school lunch program

Published 9:48 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2016

By Gerald Shirley
Principal at Ellwood Christian Academy

The 2016-2017 school year is within reach. Many schools will begin classes on Monday, August 8.

Almost every school in Alabama serves healthy lunches to its students. Some schools also serve breakfast.

A student may be eligible to receive a free meal or a meal at a very low cost through the National School Lunch Program.

Research indicates that a book titled “Poverty”, published in 1904 by Robert Hunter had a strong influence upon the United States effort to feed hungry, needy children in schools. Some European nations fed needy students long before the effort in America was begun.

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is the nation’s second largest food and nutrition assistance program. A review of information said that Congress created the NSLP after an investigation into the health of young men rejected in the World War II draft showed a connection between physical deficiencies and childhood malnutrition.

In response, Congress enacted the 1946 National Lunch Act as a “measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well-being of the nation’s children.” The act was signed by President Harry S. Truman.

Children who participate in NSLP receive one-third or more of their Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for key nutrients. Some educators have observed an acceptable behavioral pattern among students who participate in the food program.

A huge number of Americans believe that hunger is a serious issue. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) has conducted several polls to gather voters’ opinion on hunger and nutrition. The findings were:

45 percent of Americans say that hunger in the U.S. is a “serious problem.” Just 15 percent do not believe hunger is a problem at all in the United States today.

More than two-thirds believe that children often eat less nutritious and cheap food so their parents can scrape together money to pay the rent, that seniors often choose whether to pay for prescriptions or food, that families could go a week without fresh produce and that many children are going hungry in the summer when school is out.

Many believe that hunger is more of an issue today than it was before the recession. This cuts across party lines with 56 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Independents echoing this statement.

Two out of five Americans have either experienced hunger in the past year or personally know someone who has — that includes nearly half of people aged 18 to 34.

Parents should apply at their child’s school to participate in the National School Lunch Program.