Persuasive Paper Part 3—Possible Disadvantages and Solutions

982 words | 4 page(s)

While it has been established and is generally agreed upon that providing school meals with better nutritional value than what is currently available to students is important, this is far from an easy goal to accomplish. It is important to recognize the possible disadvantages or issues that implementing a new school meal program might encounter in order to plan solutions accordingly.

Why it is Important to Face the Limitations Of the Proposed Program
It is clear that the problem of school meals that are of dubious nutritional value and quality being far more common in schools located in low-income areas is important to address (Sklaroff, 2010). It has also been shown that students who attend these schools are the ones who would benefit the most from better quality meals, as they are less likely to receive it at home (Sklaroff, 2010). They are also more likely than students in schools located in more affluent areas to consume more than one major meal at school (Sklaroff, 2010). For example, the majority of students whom eat breakfast at school, rather than at home, have been identified as coming from low-income families (Sklaroff, 2010). This alone makes it important to address the issue, but is also the reason that fixing this issue might be difficult.

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Potential Disadvantage Number One: Student Resistance
Students of all socioeconomic levels have been studied regarding the food choices they make when provided with a more varied menu selection at school (Ohri-Vachaspati, Turner, & Chaloupka, 2012). It has been shown that the mere availability of lower-calorie, higher-nutrition foods does not guarantee that students will alter their diets (Ohri-Vachaspati et al., 2012). This problem is especially prevalent in low-income areas, where students might be more used to the higher-calorie, nutrient-lacking choices available simply because that is what they have become accustomed to eating, both at school and at home (Ohri-Vachaspati et al., 2012). While making healthier menu options available is certainly in the best interest of students, it does not really serve any meaningful purpose if students continue to choose options which are not healthy for them (Ohri-Vachaspati et al., 2012).

Potential Disadvantage Number Two—Financial Considerations And Community Resistance
It has already been discussed that in order to enable schools to provide healthier menu alternatives to students, especially in low-income areas, it will almost certainly be necessary to increase the food budget in schools (Samuels, 2011). While there are a variety of ways to do this, the most likely method would be to increase taxes in communities where schools are attempting to provide a more varied, nutritious menu (Samuels, 2011). Especially in impoverished areas, this idea is very likely to be met with resistance from community members (Samuels, 2011). It is also a double-edged sword, in a way, because more money paid in taxes means less money available to buy quality food for households, which would seem to be working at cross-purposes to the goal of improving the nutritional quality of children’s meals overall (Samuels, 2011).

Proposed Solutions to the Stated Disadvantages
Education is the key to helping the plan to improve nutrition in children’s diets succeed (Ohri-Vachaspati, 2014). In almost every case, it is the primary goal of parents and school administrators to do what is in the best interest of the children in their care; if these people are unaware of the importance of diet to children’s healthy development, they are much more likely to resist making the necessary sacrifices in order to ensure that children are well-nourished, both in school and at home (Ohri-Vachaspati, 2014). By providing information to students, parents, school administration, and community members concerning the importance of adequate nutrition in a child’s diet, hopefully we can increase awareness of why making changes to the school meal program is of utmost importance, thus decreasing possible resistance to the sacrifices which might be necessary in order to make this plan a reality (Ohri-Vachaspati, 2014).

As has already been discussed, it is not enough to make quality food choices available to students; we have to ensure that they are taking advantage of the availability of more nutritious options (Ohri-Vachaspati et al., 2012). The best, most reliable way to do so would be to decrease the availability of lower-quality food and snack choices (Ohri-Vachaspati et al., 2012). Removing vending machines from school property and decreasing menu selections of higher-calorie, low-nutrition food choices from the menu would help to improve students’ diets by decreasing the chance that they will pass by the healthier options available in favor of less-healthy choices (Ohri-Vachaspati et al., 2012). While this is likely to be met with resistance by students, at least initially, by providing education regarding the importance of good nutrition and by just standing firm, schools can ensure that students are making the healthiest choices possible (Ohri-Vachaspati et al, 2012).

Helping children to make smart choices about the food they eat, both in school and out, is extremely important, but not easy (Samuels, 2011). Most children (and a surprising number of adults) will choose either what tastes good, what is inexpensive, or what is readily available over what is actually good for them (Ohri-Vachaspati et al, 2012). In order to provide the best possible environment for school-aged children, it is necessary not only to make better nutritional options available, but also to teach them, as well as the adults in their lives, why it is important that they make smart meal choices (Ohri-Vachaspati et al, 2012).

  • Ohri-Vachaspati, P. (Mar 2014). Parental perception of the nutritional quality of school meals and its association with students’ school lunch participation. Appetite 74: p. 44-47.
  • Ohri-Vachaspati, P., Turner, L., & Chaloupka, F. J. (Jun 2012). Fresh fruit and vegetable program participation in elementary schools in the United States and availability of fruits and vegetables in school lunch meals. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics 112(6): p. 921-926.
  • Samuels, C. A. (Jan 12, 2011). School groups worry revised lunch law could burden districts. Education Week 30(15): p. 22-22.
  • Sklaroff, S. (Apr 27, 2010). Improving nutritional content of school meals seen priority. Education Week 13(31): p. 14.

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