The growing trends of unhealthy eating in the US population have been an issue of focus for a high number of stakeholders. Focus has been shifted to the quality of food that children get access to both at home and at school. Years of activism to make the US population to be more aware and keen on what exactly the children feed on has finally been seen to bear some fruits. It is true that there is some progress. The quality and nutritional value of the food that the United States government is providing for kids in public school meals has improved over the years, but there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure children are getting the necessary nutrition. The government and our society should educate parents, kids, and school officials on how children should be eating and how to control the obesity problem which has become a national issue. What has been achieved is far from being enough, but various stakeholders are taking the issue of nutrition as an important aspect of their roles in promoting a healthier population, starting with the US government, the corporate sector through corporate social responsibility programs as well as through nutrition awareness campaigns spearheaded by non governmental institutions as well as charitable organizations such as the slow food movement.
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The government on its part has placed various measures that are meant to ensure that the nutritional values of all foods fed to children through the lunch school feeding program is ascertained and controlled. The passing of the new food policy bill S.3307, The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill, will go a long way in ensuring that intake of poor diets that causes the obesity menace is half way checked, especially as far as availability of food in the school is concerned. This bill has been hailed by various stakeholders. Fortin (128) notes that limiting the accessibility of food to children by controlling what the school canteens serve is a commendable effort in fighting the menace caused by unhealthy eating. The bill which seeks to control even the nutritional content of what the vending machines produces shall go far in ensuring that children feed on healthy food while in school.
Critically thinking however, the bill may fail to realize any tangible benefit especially when the rate of accessibility to unhealthy products is concerned. According to Halcrow (124), introducing a bill that seeks to deny access of certain category of food may fail to instigate the desired healthy feeding system at the school. For instance the children may get access for the food that they cannot get at the school on their way home or even at home. When this is the case the intended benefits of the new food policy bill S.3307, The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill, shall not be realized. This therefore shows that though various stakeholders have tried to improve the quality of food fed to the American children at school through the school feeding program and have succeeded to improve the quality of food fed to the children through the program, the program is yet to achieve the overall effects such as a reduction at the rate of obesity among the children.
This calls for a new approach towards nutrition management especially if the health of the younger generations is to benefit from healthier foods. There is an urgent need to emphasize on education and sensitization of both the parents and their children on the importance various aspects of their nutrition. This sensitization should be focused to provide a long term solution to the menace to ensure that the future generations do not suffer from the same problems experienced by the current generation of children. Efforts by the United states Department of Agriculture (USDA) are commendable, especially the sensitizing program dubbed Healthier US School Challenge. That has been running since 2004 and the Lets Move program introduced by the First Lady Michelle Obama.
However, more efforts are needed in order to sensitize the population on healthy nutrition. The identified programs by the United states Department of Agriculture targeting the children through various activities may have great benefits as the resultant effects would be a healthy feeding generation of kids out of their own volition, not through coercion as introduced by the The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill. Though the intentions of the mentioned bill are good, the final benefits might not be automatic due to psychological effects that may lead to aroused curiosity of children towards getting food that they are technically denied at school. To improve the nutrition of the children therefore for a long term benefit need to incorporate sensitization programs that shall ensure that the children are aware of the effects that they may get when they eat unhealthy food. Sensitization therefore should be encouraged in school alongside the The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill to encourage the children to choose healthy food, which shall in turn ensure that the feeding habits of the future generations are healthy too.
Parents should also be sensitized on healthy eating habits in order to upbringing their children on a healthy diet. As noted by Poppendieck (128), children learn to like or dislike what they eat from their parents. Ensuring that this group of stakeholders is taken care of on sensitization shall have a far reaching effect in improving the welfare of the people and the population at large. Programs that seek to enlighten the parents of the effects that they have on their children feeding habits. Once the parents are sensitized on their feeding habits and the effects that the feeding habits shall have on children, the children shall therefore be guaranteed a better meal as they shall be in a position to guarantee them of better food with better nutritional values. There is therefore a need to ensure that the parents are sensitized such that the benefits aimed by The child nutrition Reauthorization Bill are not counteracted at home. They parents therefore shall be able to provide the children with a better diet even at home hence managing dietary problems like obesity.
According to Fortin (169), trying to control the food intake of individuals especially the children without involving their parents directly is an exercise in futile. This is because the children can easily6 get access to what is considered unhealthy food from the parents and may even sneak it into the school as packed food. This therefore ensures that the benefits that are meant to be accrued with the better food offered by the US lunch feeding program are not jeopardized. The health of they child is a prerogative of two major stakeholders, the parents and the child and thus there is a need for adequate measures to be taken to ensure that the parents are involved in deciding the type of food that is fed to their children. this shall promote the rate of ownership of the programs to both the children and their parents. The new policy strategy advocated for by the United states Department of Agriculture therefore should be encouraged and at the same time, be incorporated with other strategies that shall promote the acceptability of better nutritious food that may be non appealing due to a varied taste and preferences.
As noted by Nestle (122), eating is a cultural affair and thus there is need to ensure that people's attachment to certain food is determined culturally. For instance, there is a rise in the popular culture to embrace the less nutritious fast foods that have been known to cause more harm than good to its consumers especially on issues such as obesity and the like. Breaking the population from such a culture may be difficult unless some cultural experts are involved to ensure that the new policy is not rejected by the population. The efforts by the United states Department of Agriculture should therefore be backed by good cultural research that clearly explain\s the attachment that people have with their feeding habits as well as feeding patterns. This shall encourage the population to slowly undergo a detachment process from the foods that they are used to hence achieving a healthy eating habit. Incorporating feeding habits in the socialization process of children shall ensure that these children shall be socialized into a culture that values healthy foods as opposed to what has been considered to be unhealthy.
In conclusion, it is evident that the quality of food that is served to the American children through the lunch program has gained tremendous improvement in the recent past years. Strides have been made to ensure that the future generation is fed in adequate diet to secure the future of the country. Efforts that aim at improving the quality of food for the children have also been stepped up, notably through the The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill, which seeks to control the nutritional values of the food served while at the same time ensuring that access to what is considered unhealthy to children is limited. These efforts should be hailed and be stepped up.
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