From a greasy, deep-fried samosa to french fries, the kids in our schools have been eating foods that provide no natural nutrition. Children are inclined to purchase unhealthy lunches, if left unsupervised at school.
Although healthy food rich in proteins and vitamins is essential for all age groups, these nutrients are far more critical for children. At this growing age, they need healthy food to form antibodies to prevent other long-term health issues.
Not only does junk food affect kids in the long run as adults, but it can also take a toll on their physical health at a younger age.
However, sometimes junk food is the only option available, considering its cost-effectiveness and availability.
On the other end of the spectrum, underprivileged kids – who do not get 3 full meals at home – tend to have the weakest immune systems and poorest health.
However, this issue is entirely disregarded by the schools and sometimes not given much importance. Understanding that your childhood eating habits go a long way is essential.
Boosting The Immune System
Since kids spend most of their formative years in school, schools must provide them with healthy options. The continuous food insecurity in low-income households opens up kids to the risk of a number of physical health issues as well as anxiety and depression.
Kids with a weaker immune system are also more likely to struggle with social and behavioral problems that reflect their overall school performance. They are likely to stay aloof or not participate in class.
Besides that, poor mental health generally affects all aspects of their lives, social or academic. Children running on low energy subsequently participate less in sports and other extracurricular activities.
It is also important to mention that schools are the breeding grounds for all sorts of germs and bacteria. Since kids spend at least 8 hours in school, it is reasonably expected that their immune systems are strong enough not to catch a sickness.
High absenteeism due to sickness is very common.
The consumption of junk food is also very prevalent in schools. Because of this, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are persistent problems in the long run.
Additionally, eating a lot of junk food as a kid is known to lead to a fast food addiction. Adults who formed poor eating habits in their childhood find it harder to quit and adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Kids with healthy meals in schools, on the other hand, are more likely to be active and healthy.
Also, doing so will lead to healthier and more confident adults.
In this case, providing healthy meals in schools is rather pragmatic and realistic.
Catering To Food Insecurity In Low-Income Households
When talking about healthy meals, low-income households are pertinent to mention. In homes where parents struggle to put food on the table, the kids are less likely to have nutritious food available.
According to research, rates of food insecurity were higher in the summer among kids from low-income backgrounds. That’s the time of year when children are on summer vacation and eat mostly at home.
However, research has also shown that receiving free or reduced-price school lunches will likely reduce food insecurity. To promote healthy meals in low-income families, providing healthy meals in schools is a much-needed approach to solving cases of health issues in kids.
Improved Academic Performance in School
For kids to be active in school, they need a healthy brain. Foods packed with vitamins B, C, and D3, as well as magnesium, are known to help improve productivity. Healthy meals are necessary for your children to participate actively in school.
Not only that, but unhealthy foods high in carbohydrates have a negative impact on children’s moods and behavior. For instance, carbs may give an instant rush of energy, but it is temporary. This temporary rush leads to children being tired and cranky and, as a result, a low performance in the classroom.
According to research published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2004, children who are micronutrient deficient are also more likely to be aggressive and lack mental endurance. That also means lower test scores.
Who could’ve known that healthy food intake was linked to better academic performance?
What can you do to provide healthy school meals?
Annual school budgets are limited when it comes to feeding children.
If your kids’ school does not offer solid, healthy lunches every day, remember, you can always send your kids to school with a home-prepared meal. These meals could include anything from raw vegetables and fruits to a sandwich. Multiple recipes are available online or on YouTube to help pack a healthy and easy meal for your kids.
The benefits of raising a happy and healthy child outweigh the extra effort!
Also, you can always go the extra mile to help the kids from underprivileged backgrounds by supporting schools and organizations providing healthy lunches.
Ek Plate Biryani supports Street To School (Karachi) with healthy lunches for their students. You can chip in to support a child’s future.
Healthy meals play a vital role in growing and developing physical and mental endurance. The rising food insecurity rates are alarming and should be taken care of immediately.
Providing healthy school meals and taking special care of the dietary requirements of kids is an aspect that needs to be taken care of by the schools and the parents.
Remember, you are what you eat! Hence make sure what your kids eat is healthy.