Free Lunch Program

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In the United States, over 22 million kids are a part of free or reduced lunch programs during the school year. These programs provide food to children who may not usually know where their next meal will be coming from, and they have long reaching affects. Hunger can negatively affect students’ performance in school, nutritional habits, and behavioral problems. Additionally, only 3.8 million youth who participate in free or reduced lunch programs at school are provided with food during the summer (“Best Summer Ever”, 2016). Lunch programs are a great relief to struggling families, and it is essential that lunch programs are done to provide the most nutritional and psychological benefit to the children. Participation in Lunch Programs Although…show more content…
They come from lower-income families and might have more stress and problems than an average student. A chief concern is that children in free or reduced lunch programs might feel a sense of inferiority or a lack of self-confidence because of their status. A self-esteem questionnaire given to middle school students, both who qualified and did not qualify for free or reduced lunch, was given across several counties to determine any affects the program had on the students. They found that there were no major disparities between the self-esteem of students in free or reduced lunch programs and those not (Glovinsky-Fahsholtz, 1992). The lack of a difference in self-esteem between the two groups is great because it shows that the free or reduced lunch programs provide lower-income families with the help that they need while preserving dignity. This could be because the students do not know which of their peers receiving free lunch is or not, or that maybe the students in lunch programs do not feel blame for their economic situation, so they feel comfortable receiving help. Either way, it is good that students who receive free or reduced lunch do not appear to feel ashamed about…show more content…
Although ideally the children could be provided healthy food, it is a priority that they do not go hungry. In the United States, 17% of children ages 6 -12 are obese, and among low-income families the obesity rates are even higher (Mozaffarian, Wiecha, Roth, Nelson, Lee, & Gortmaker, 2010). Lower-income children are at even more risk because a high fat and sugar diet during developing years can shape negatively impact their growth and development, potentially setting them up for poor health for the rest of their lives (Mednik-Vaksman, Lund, & Johnson, 2016). Alternatively, lunch programs could be used to establish healthy dietary and physical habits in children to help them maintain a balanced diet through the rest of their lives. In an after school program at the YMCA, switching to healthier snacks while providing education about healthy dietary habits was found to be very effective in switching the children to healthier snacks. As the children learned about a healthy diet, the YMCA was able to increase servings of fruits and vegetables as snacks while decrease servings of high fat, high sugar, and carbohydrate based snacks. They also switched from serving sugar based drinks, such as soda and juice, to water during their program, an alternative which is both
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