Nutrition: Sugar in School Breakfasts in Houston
The management of nutrition requirements in large schools such as the Houston Independent School District (ISD) is a significant challenge. The daily meals served are 280,000, an exercise that incorporates 2,400 workers and fourteen departments (Lengyel et al., 2015). The school is trying to ensure that students attain essential nutritional benefits from the foods and live healthily. The article is a school’s response to the guardians’ complaints about the sugar levels served during breakfast. It is vital to understand the guardians’ point of view, reforms that can be done, and the advantages children get from the morning meals.
Guardians have complained through phones and emails about the sugar level during breakfast. Some parents have counted the grams involved and argued that too much sugar poses a health risk to students (Lengyel et al., 2015). The guardians’ argument is justifiable because everyone is worried about the rising cases of obesity in children. For example, I agree with the parents that carbohydrates, including milk, fruit, and grain, contribute to sugar levels, which can adversely affect students.
Context of Parents’ Position
Ironically, the federal standards fail to talk about the sugar content in schools’ breakfasts. I agree that morning meals in the school contain high sugar levels because of one cup of milk and fruit. However, Lengyel et al. (2015) state that parents should distinguish between the two types of sugar; added, which increases the possibility of bodily harm, and the healthy and beneficial one known as natural.
Houston ISD follows the United States Agriculture Department (USDA) rules and regulations stated in the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA). Lengyel et al. (2015) explain that this act was established to respond to the childhood obesity epidemic. Specific standards and patterns were set forth to promote the well-being of students. I agree that the school follows the nutrition standards, including calories, sodium, saturated fats limitation, and restriction of artificial trans-fat in children’s meals.
Schools’ Position Content
The school complies with the HHFKA requirement about increasing the fruits from half to a full cup and having no protein-rich meat requirement. Lengyel et al. (2015) expound that the Breakfast Program established in 1966 and passed by Congress in 1975 aimed to offer one-quarter of the nutrition needed by school-going students. The recommendations put across by HHFKA state that reducing added sugars lowers calories without interfering with the diet’s nutritional benefits. This is per the rules and regulations of the USDA. The school also ensures that the menu provided is scrutinized daily or weekly to ensure that the essential regulations and requirements are met.
Guardians should also understand that the menu provided is per the schools’ funds. For example, the amount designated for breakfast is one dollar, making it challenging to provide nutritional meals to students. The items used to create a half cup of fresh juice cost approximately $0.20, attributed to environmental issues and drought (Lengyel et al., 2015). Also, the school does not offer chocolate, pastries with icing, sweet rolls, or excessive added sugar. Instead, whole-rich grain items with minimized sugar levels are served to the students. These products contain low sodium, fat, and sugar but have high fiber.
I support the school’s explanation about sugar levels because it follows United States Agriculture Department (USDA) rules. For example, Houston ISD ensures that meals are prepared by chefs, cost analysts, production teams, and dietitians. The learning institution understands that breakfast plays a crucial role in improving children’s academic performance and enhancing their well-being. Therefore, the learning institution offers two different approaches while serving morning meals, including offer vs. serve and straight service. Students must take all the food on the menu with a straight service approach (Lengyel et al., 2015). In contrast, children choose three food items in the offer method, where a half cup of fruit should be a priority. As a result, the students can opt not to take both fruits or milk. Eighty percent of the school’s population comes from less privileged families (Lengyel et al., 2015). This program has continually increased to serve high numbers of children, with the current being 180,000 (Lengyel et al., 2015). The idea of providing this meal ensures that these students get the nutrients that are not offered at home. This is because the children can get approximately three meals and a snack daily.
I concur with the school that the parents’ assumptions about the grams present during breakfast might not be correct. The reason is that children can fail to take all the provided. This meal is served in the classroom to ensure that everybody is included. Nevertheless, Lengyel et al. (2015) state that the school also ensures that all students take breakfast to minimize the stigma of children from disadvantaged households. Additionally, the offer vs. serve approach helps to reduce waste because children select what they want and leave what they do not. Therefore, the food service in Houston ISD recognizes the essentiality of focusing on students’ behavior and prolonging their lives.
Lengyel, M. S., Jennifer, G., Cramer, R. D. N., LD, N., Oceguera, M. S., & Pigao MA, L. (2015). Sugar in school breakfasts: A School District’s Perspective. Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk, 6(2), 7. Web.