According to a new study, most students eat more vegetables and fruits in school than out. Researchers compared the consumption of fruits and vegetables of 1900 students during the school year vs. the summer holidays.
“This study confirms that meals provided during school program provide an important source of nutrition for the students”, said Madeline Dalton of the Medical Center Darthmouth-Hitchcock.
Dalton emphasized the importance of serving fruits and vegetables at school since these additions will make the students’ diet a healthier one.
“Schools clearly play an important rule because they provide healthy meals for kids, Our information shows that the most vulnerable students are the ones benefitting more from school meals,” said Meghan Longacre, who co-authored the study.
Maria Barros, school director at The Arc of South Florida in Florida City, agrees with the study, and said that healthy meals improves health and quality of life.
“We, as Latin-Americans, are not used to eating vegetables; if as parents we don’t have the habit of eating fruit and vegetables at home, then we can’t pass it to our kids,” said Barros.
She said that in order to practice healthy eating habits, her organization serves vegetables and fruits in all their meals. Teachers play an important role because thanks to their example during eating time, many of the kids eat the food or at least try it. Barros believes that some of the obstacles to healthy eating at home are financial and time-related.
“Nowadays it could be cheaper for some families to buy a bag of rice that will last longer than to buy some vegetables”, said Barros.
At the same time, many parents have long workday jobs and are very tired at the end, so they decide to take the easiest route and eat fast food, not knowing that they are damaging their kids’ health.
As many studies show, obesity in the United States is widespread and Barros believes that offering a healthy school lunch fulfills an important role to prevent that disease.
“At Arc we defend healthy school meals and promote physical activity at our centers. This is another attempt at improving kids’ and youths’ health,” said Barros.