Child Nutrition in the U.S.


How is it that in a nation of plenty so many children are nutritionally deprived?

Recent studies report that access to healthy food stores could be miles from those in need or they simply can’t afford to buy the nutritious foods that are available. Food choices are often based on budget-friendly options as an alternative to going hungry. There are movements on behalf of children to subsidized food costs, for families and at schools, for those who qualify. In addition, federal programs are in the works to further educate children on healthy eating habits though the schools. Although there have been positive results in recent years, improving child nutrition in the U.S. is still of critical importance.

Facts About Child Nutrition

To be effective, nutrition standards must encompass all food sold in schools. Establish national nutrition standards for all foods sold on the school campus throughout the day. While school meals must meet federal nutrition standards, foods sold individually outside the meal programs, such as those available in vending machines, are not required to meet comparable nutrition standards. Thus, students can purchase soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, salty snacks, candy, and high-fat baked goods throughout the school day.
-National Education Association (NEA)

Nutrition and the Health of Young People

Child Nutrition in the U.S.Schools are in a unique position to promote healthy eating and help ensure appropriate food and nutrient intake among students. Schools provide students with opportunities to consume an array of foods and beverages throughout the school day and enable students to learn about and practice healthy eating behaviors. For example, as a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages, schools can provide students access to safe, free
drinking water.

Schools should ensure that only nutritious and appealing foods and beverages are provided in school cafeterias, vending machines, snack bars, school stores, and other venues that offer food and beverages to students. In addition, nutrition education should be part of a comprehensive school health education curriculum.

Center for Disease Control (CDC)
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U.S. Kids Getting Fewer Daily Calories From Fast Food

But one-third still eating it every day, study finds

American children are getting fewer calories a day from fast food restaurants, but one-third still eat ready-to-go pizza, chicken and burgers on a daily basis, a new study finds.

Among kids aged 4 to 19, national health and nutrition surveys showed that average daily calorie consumption from fast food restaurants fell by 110 calories between 2003 and 2010, said study author Colin Rehm. Also, the percentage of kids consuming fast food on a given day dropped from nearly 39 percent to about 33 percent in the period, the McDonald’s-funded study found.

-MedLine Plus – U.S. National Library of Medicine

The Key to Keeping America’s Kids Nourished, Focused, and Healthy

Child Nutrition in the U.S.

Feeding America is calling on Congress to strengthen the federal nutrition safety net and invest in child nutrition programs.

The U.S. Congress will soon have an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to the 16 million children in America today who live on the brink of hunger, according to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Congress will consider the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act (CNR), which sets policy for programs that feed low-income children in school, out-of-school and at home, this year.

Solidifying strong federal support for nutrition assistance programs and augmenting services like nutrition education can help guarantee communities, families, seniors, and children across the country can access adequate nutrition to live active, healthy lives.

According to our study, -Hunger in America 2014,- the median monthly household income for those served through the Feeding America network is US$927. That includes individuals as well as families with multiple children. Living on such a tight budget requires families struggling with hunger to make very difficult choices and unfortunately for many families, this often means compromising on healthy food choices in an effort to stretch their overall budget. And the reality is, most of us, if put in that situation – where money is tight, time is limited, and the immense stress about whether my child will go to bed hungry – would make the same choices too.

Source: Michelle Marshall, MS, RD-Registered Dietitian and the Director of Nutrition at Feeding America.
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