Free «Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act» Essay
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It is well-known that obesity is one of the most acute problems all over the world. The United States is not an exception. A great percentage of American children are overweight or obese. This problem can lead to a number of health diseases, both in the short and long term, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Schoolchildren with such problems cannot absorb information. Therefore, the government has taken steps to give American children an opportunity to realize their potential enabling them to make a choice in favor of their healthy lifestyle. Among the initiatives aimed at improving children’s health and their nutrition the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is necessary for the country to provide more comprehensive school meals. Due to the nationwide anti-obesity act for children, the US government intends to continue informing the public about the benefits of healthy eating and active lifestyles so that children can have a full and productive life. Moreover, the government wants all Americans to learn about activities aimed at promoting healthy eating and physical activity, and it encourages all the children of the US to take part in them. Thus, children’s nutrition is a concern not only for parents themselves, which, as practice shows, are not always aware of the benefits of healthy eating or do not pay enough attention to this issue, but also for governments along with school institutions. Therefore, at the state and regional levels, the organization of school meals requires a competent approach, vigilant control, and constant improvement in ensuring safe, simple, and healthy products of the highest quality. In the USA, the nutrition of schoolchildren is the subject of constant discussions, which lead to faster and more effective implementation of programs to support school nutrition, promote the normal development of children, and prevent the formation of various diseases. It is vital to discuss how the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 impacts management policy decisions for public safety administration in the USA.
Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010
In the modern conditions, the issue of healthy nutrition for schoolchildren is especially urgent, since proper nourishment is the most important guarantee for the healthy development of a growing child’s body. Thus, nutrition is one of the important factors determining the health of the younger generation. Over the years, researchers have formulated three rules for nutrition, namely diversity, moderation, and timeliness. Unfortunately, the acceleration of the pace of life of a modern person very often rejects all these rules. The nutritional factor is one of the most important in preventing diseases, maintaining health, and improving efficiency. The main nutritional disorders observed in different age groups are usually the same. In fact, these are, first of all, an excess of carbohydrates and fats of animal origin in food and a shortage of vegetables, fruits, and berries. Each of these violations, even individually, can have a negative impact on the state of human health. One of the main requirements for the nutrition of schoolchildren is its optimality and balance. Therefore, it is necessary to study the menu attentively. Furthermore, it is vital to take into consideration the needs of the body. Physical or emotional stress should be considered during this responsible process. With an optimal food system, it is important to balance the intake and consumption of basic nutrients. A thorough approach to the compilation of a full-fledged ration of a schoolchild requires taking into account the specific nature of the child’s organism.
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In the United States the ex-First Lady of the US Michelle Obama took measures concerning the fight against childhood and adolescent obesity. Specifically, she repeatedly urged Americans to move more and drink more water. The ex-First Lady has also advocated sports and supported the introduction of a new food labeling, which is expected to stop misleading consumers about the size of portions and the content of calories. One of the main initiatives to combat childhood obesity in the United States was the reform of school meals and the acceptance of Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010. The Act has been designed to improve the quality of meal. That is why fried potatoes and high-calorie sandwiches in American schools in recent years have been replaced by healthier foods. More vegetables and fruits have been introduced in the school menu.
In 2010, the Congress approved and adopted the Act on Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids. Its goal is to sell only healthy foods and beverages on the school premises. The document is intended to help 115,000 children by opening school nutrition programs for them, improving the quality of food, and compensating additional six cents for each lunch for schools. This measure has allowed the school management to offer more useful options for nutrition. There is a certain methodology for planning the menu in the USA, where school lunches are safe for health and nutritious for the development of children. In this regard, all the school rations of any state in the country must meet the stringent requirements of specialists reflected in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Importantly, these guidelines determine the variety of food rations, the degree of presence of fruits and vegetables in them, the recommended content of sugars and salts, certain principles of nutrition with less than 30% of calories from fats and less than 10% of calories from saturated fats. In addition, lunches and breakfasts should contain at least one-third of the child’s daily requirement for proteins, iron, calcium, vitamins A and C.
The school nutrition support program in the United States covers 101,000 schools and provides about 30.5 million children with lunch or reduced-price lunches. The program is managed by the USDA Agency at the federal level and by the State Education Agencies at the regional level. Each school participating in the program receives subsidies from the state directly to its bank account or its district administration account. Each school is required to provide a diet in accordance with the recommendations of the US Department of Agriculture on the basis of scientific medical approaches and federal law. Schools where the percentage of children participating in the free breakfast or breakfast program at a reduced price is 60% or higher get free snacks in the mid-afternoon. In the US, there are three types of federal subsidies for hot meals such as free breakfasts, breakfast at a reduced price, subsidies for breakfasts provided on a commercial basis. Subsidies for snacks, namely afternoon snacks, include free snacks, snacks at a reduced price, and paid snacks. This act allows children with low incomes to get school meals, simplifying the process of applying for free and reduced food intake during school hours (Hong, 2015). Schools also receive all sorts of grocery kits from the Ministry of Agriculture from the nearest agricultural producers for each lunch for every student. Thus, the state supports the national producers of agricultural products. Cumulatively the state spends about 8.7 billion US dollars for all programs to support nutrition in schools.
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Management Policy Decisions for Public Safety Administration
In the United States, children are provided with meals in schools and other public institutions through the special programs. Moreover, these programs provide food for the elderly and adults with chronic health problems. These programs are one of the main components of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act regulating the nutrition of children in schools, both already implemented and under development, the totality of which is designed to radically change school meals. Thus, all these programs have helped to reach the main aim, namely the ability to bring food norms out of the queue for lunch (for the first time food and beverages sold at vending machines and other sales points on the school grounds is a worthy addition to a healthy diet), increasing school funding (the first in 30 years real addition to the cost of each meal at a rate of 6 cents is associated with the effectiveness of improving nutrition), pricing standards for schools that ensure revenues from non-federal sources and federal obligations for healthy school meals as well as their adjustment relative to prices, training and technical assistance that helps schools to achieve regulatory compliance and control. These programs together constitute the American system of social protection for nutrition.
The US Department of Agriculture in accordance with the federal law reimburses the cash and food costs for each portion of the food and provides financial assistance to the states to cover administrative expenses for these programs. The relevant state agencies involved in this work administer program management in public schools and institutions. Most states also manage these programs in non-profit private schools and institutions, although either it is forbidden in some states by the law or they prefer not to take charge of these programs in such institutions. In such states, the Food and Nutrition Service takes over the management of programs.
The US Department of Agriculture introduces restrictions to the content of food components. The new law passed by the Congress is a pledge of national security, developed economy, and health of the nation (United States Department of Agriculture, 2017). It is not a secret that children’s obesity is directly connected with baked goods. There are restrictions, which can help to solve this problem in accordance with the adopted act. They are applied to snacks and complex breakfast which have been sold in school canteens and vending machines. These restrictions give the government an opportunity to control the sale of such products. They also allow the government to change children’s lives for the better.
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It is necessary to note that a lot of schools have already introduced numerous changes to the menu of school canteens and vending machines. Owing to the act, it has become possible for the government to regulate the quality of food. Accordingly, all meals, which are subsidized by the federal government, are under the strict control. There are departments in the dining rooms of many schools where students could buy what they like and where, as a rule, more fatty foods such as cheese sticks or nachos are sold. According to the set rules, these departments are required to sell only healthier meals such as fruit salads, pizza, yoghurts, and burgers that meet the established standards. Consequently, this allows the government to exclude high-calorie food from the ration of schoolchildren.
One of the main changes that have led to a positive wave of new norms is an almost complete restriction in school on the sport drinks, which have high calories. This law is the main step in the fight against child hunger, malnutrition, and obesity (National Education Association, n. d.). After the officials involved in health promotion had begun to actively prohibit the sale of high-calorie drinks by vending machines, it was necessary to substitute them with sports drinks, which are now also being banned for sale. Due to these innovations, numerous companies have already introduced sports drinks, which do not have high calories. In addition, a lot of dietary teas and special drinks in schools are on sale. Moreover, it is necessary to note about changes in primary schools. These schools can sell only non-hazardous drinks with different flavors. Another positive aspect related to the established rules is that the government not only cut the sales of unhealthy foods but also boosts the sale of healthy products. According to the newly introduced standards, the daily ration of schoolchildren includes useful food. All meals are rich in products with low fat content.
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The new standards have become the next step in a long series of measures aimed at making school food healthier and more affordable. The norms on nutritional value of free school breakfasts have been revised again. According to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, adopted in 2010, schools began to receive more funds to provide students with free breakfasts and breakfasts at a reduced price. However, some conservatives have criticized the norms introduced and aimed at increasing the nutritional value of school breakfasts. The main reason is grounded on the fact that the government should not dictate to children how to eat. Keeping in mind the possibility of such a reaction, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act includes one of the most contradictory clauses of the new rules, namely the regulation of the collection of additional funds, for example, by selling baking in schools at the discretion of the states. However, the new rules do not apply to extracurricular activities such as sports competitions or theater performances, snacks and sweets brought from home to class tea parties as well as for meals that students take with them for personal use. The US Department of Agriculture has demonstrated its willingness to consider school complaints that it is extremely difficult to fulfill certain requirements. For example, the government temporarily relaxed certain restrictions on meat and cereal products in subsidized breakfasts after school nutritionists reported that they did not work.
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Use of Low-Fat Flavored Milk
The US Department of Agriculture published regulations on the management of American schools that prohibit the use of low-fat flavored milk as an option for children's nutrition. The new rule of the US Department of Agriculture is now registered in the Federal Register and came into force at the beginning of 2012-2013 school years; however, it allows offering skimmed flavored milk to children. Moreover, the rule does not include restrictions on other dairy products, it identifies cheeses and yoghurts as an alternative to meat and allows schools to sell cheeses with reduced fat and sodium to feed schoolchildren. The act also requires schools to offer 8 ounces (approximately 237 ml) of liquid milk with each school lunch and breakfast. But only low-fat flavored milk is allowed. By assessing the nutritional properties of milk, including flavored milk with a low fat content, the US Department of Agriculture takes a measure that drastically reduces milk consumption in schools towards less useful alternatives.
Results of Changes in the Public Policy
In the United States, approximately 32,000,000 students of different ages eat every day at school. For many of these children and adolescents, school meals total up to 50% of the daily caloric intake. American schools have already operated according to new guidelines for school meals, which were approved by the US Department of Agriculture in 2012. These guidelines require that schools offer more products from whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fruits, and vegetables in a sufficient range. The menu of school canteens is limited in caloric content, and such things as salt and trans fats in foods are strictly controlled. The research shows that after the introduction of these rules of school meals, American children have really begun to eat more fruits and vegetables. However, schools play an important role in shaping healthy behavior in children. Many children spend a significant share of their time in schools, where good and bad habits can develop. Physical activity and informing children about health should come first. Thus, teachers and school leaders should make a lot of efforts to achieve this goal. After all, schools are responsible for the work of their cafeterias as well as for creating places where children can actively and profitably spend time. It is necessary to properly organize school breaks and offer structured summer programs for sufficient physical activity of children. For example, league softball and football in the neighborhood can inspire children to have a physically active rest, awaken in them the spirit of competition, and promote social integration. Attractive parks with sports equipment for recreation with friends and parents are also very necessary for children.
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Unfortunately, not all children were happy with healthy eating. Many schoolchildren complained about the unusual and tasteless food, which are less salted and fatty, with more vegetables and grains. Some experts even expressed their opinion that the program to improve school meals failed. However, over time, children not only got used to the new menu, but they even fell in love with healthy dishes. New standards of nutrition were approved by 90 percent of school students (USDA, n. d.). The fact is evidenced by the results of a study conducted by scientists from the University of Illinois in Chicago. Importantly, by the end of the 2012-2013 school year, the greatest percent of the kids in the primary classes accepted healthy food. Undoubtedly, the menu still does not suit all schoolchildren, but a positive trend has already begun. It is not easy to change the habits of people, but the data shows that healthy food is becoming more popular.
The activities of the US Department of Agriculture are aimed at creating conditions for maintaining a healthy lifestyle for American boys and girls. Throughout the USA, a healthier environment with a wider range of food is provided for schoolchildren due to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Fears of the public about the health of the nation, for which excess weight takes on the nature of an epidemic, and in particular the health of current and future generations of children, have led to a review of the nature of nutrition. Nowadays, the diet includes significantly more whole-grain foods, dairy products with a lower fat content as well as fruits and vegetables. In addition, restrictions are set on sugar, fat, and sodium. As a result of the introduction of new standards, tens of millions of American schoolchildren from different regions of the country began to consume healthier food. Furthermore, schoolchildren have accepted these innovations, and there are no large-scale problems related to the refusal of children to buy or consume new food. It is obvious that these changes in schools have a positive impact on children. These school-oriented programs that stimulate healthy eating, physical activity, and a positive attitude toward one's own image are included in a list of measures that can reduce obesity in children. Thus, the question whether children can effectively learn at school, grow healthy, and fully realize the potential inherent in them is dependent on the current efforts of management policy decisions.