DC Public Schools fighting hunger in the classroom
Bill Turque has a great story in the Washington Post today about DC Public Schools' expanded efforts to fight childhood hunger and obesity, as new poverty numbers indicate that three in ten children in the District are living in poverty. Under the new program, nearly a quarter of all students in DC Public Schools -- an estimated 10,000 students -- are now able to receive three square meals a day in school.
And the meals they're getting are a far cry from what their parents might remember from their school days. No soggy green beans, mystery meat, recipes from the 1950s or calorie-laden fast food. Thanks to the Healthy Schools Act, passed this spring by the DC Council, the children are getting fresh, local produce and food that actually tastes good, according to early reviews from kids.
The newly expanded meals program is a great example of a smart investment that addresses at least three big issues at once: child hunger, nutrition and the achievement gap. Children who go to school hungry and lacking in energy are unable to focus and may fall behind. They are more likely to fall sick or become obese. Indeed, the connection between poverty and a child's success in school is well documented. By serving dinner at school, more children are drawn to stay for after-school programs where they can get more academic help.
It's a great thing that in this tough economy, the District has been able to find the funds to feed our youngest and most vulnerable children and help them learn and grow -- mind, body and spirit.