In 2010 the Healthy,Hunger-Free Kids Act was enacted. This act improved the food standards used in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) to be more nutritious and effective for school students. Fighting the hunger and obesity in the same program, the NSLP impacts school students for the better. Nutritional standards used by the National School Lunch Program helps students in the classroom and at home. The NSLP improves nutrition among students living with food insecurity. Children with food insecure homes may not know when they will get their next meal. These students may be eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. The NSLP lowers the amount of food insecurity by providing a stable food source (Stuber). Government regulated standards ensure that children will be provided with nutrients to help them avoid hunger and function normally. A large number of students are affected by food insecurity, “Ten percent of U.S. households with children faced food insecurity in 2012” (Stuber). Helping this group by providing access to needed vitamins improves the students’ well being. Students that qualify for free or reduced price lunches are more likely to have bad health, the NSLP provides meals to eliminate that health gap (“Children in Low-Income Households”). Schools that meet the standards report healthier and less hungry students. By providing a daily source of food, hunger among students becomes less of a worry. The rate of obesity is also TIlley 2declining among low-income students (Thornton). Low-income students are targeted by the program because they might not receive a healthy lunch otherwise. “The NSLP program significantly improves the well-being of children in several dimensions” the program is beneficial in that students will receive balanced meals that keep them feeling well in school (“Children in Low-Income Households”). School lunch programs reduce students’ access to unhealthy foods (Stuber). The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act banned vending machines that dispensed junk food making it harder for students to rely on junk food for nutrition. The NSLP improves the well being of students and increases obesity reduction rates in schools (“Children in Low-Income Households”). Schools that implement higher nutrition standards see an increase in test scores and show a positive impact on learning and memory. Balanced meals improve test scores, “Access to nutrition that incorporates protein, carbohydrates, and glucose has been shown to improve students’ cognition, concentration, and energy levels” (Stuber). Nutritional standards used in the NSLP combat nutritional deficiencies that lead to health problems. Healthy meals increase probability of normal growth and increase cognition among participating students (Masangcay). Children who don’t get sufficient meals are more likely to have behavioral problems and repeat a grade (Stuber). The National School Lunch Program has been said to negatively affect schools and students’ health. There has not been enough evidence to support a decline in obesity rates among all students due to implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Students who participate in the program may overcompensate for the low calorie school lunches by filling up on junk food (G. Gunderson). However, obesity rates among students that qualify for free and reduced price lunches have lowered since the new NSLP standards (Thornton). These students benefit greatly from the new standards and receive healthier meals than before. School lunch programs Tilley 3target low-income students due to the likelihood that they experience food insecurity. There is also the counter-productive expenses of schools in the program to consider, “Schools are faced with higher expenses due to these requirements…” (C. Gunderson). Since the food included in the meals have changed, students might be tempted to throw away food from lunch they don’t like (Orr). While waste has increased, schools that do meet the nutritional standards receive government subsidies for every meal they serve, lowering school expenses making the program more affordable (Masangcay). Overall, the health benefits of the National School Lunch Program exceed the negative consequences that participants encounter. A program that has the opportunity to positively impact millions of students is incredibly important. While the United States is experiencing an obesity epidemic, providing the youth with helpful programs will give students a chance to live healthier and learn better. The NSLP is a extremely useful tool for schools that help kids live better lives.
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