The following is an excerpt from an article posted in the New Orleans Advocate in July 2018: 

“The National School Lunch Program has served as an invaluable program since its inception. Last year, it provided more than 22 million kids free or reduced-price lunch while attending school. However, during the summer, this program is unavailable, since school is not in session (for most students, anyway). This especially puts the kids who live in the more than 15 million food-insecure households in the United States at a huge disadvantage, since they are heavily reliant on those school-provided meals.

Fortunately, many groups around the country help fill this void each summer. Islamic Relief USA, a nonprofit humanitarian and advocacy organization that works to alleviate poverty and hunger in over 40 countries, is currently running summer feeding programs around the country. The locations include the D&R Community and Youth Institute, located at 5214 Fourth St., in Marrero.

Several studies have shown a reliable correlation or link between proper eating and academic performance. A recent report by Share Our Strength’s “No Kid Hungry” campaign stated that kids who eat school breakfast score 17.5 percent higher on tests than those who didn’t consume anything. Also, a 2011 article in the Journal of School Health stated that most studies on this topic found a positive and noticeable connection between good nutrition and better grades.

Some readers might be thinking that school is out, so even if my kids eat their flaxseeds and yogurt bars, they will not see the benefit of higher test scores. Well, at least not immediately. Instilling this good behavior during the summer can pay academic dividends during the school year.

In his best-selling book, “Get Started,” author Brian Tracy said it takes about 21 days to adopt a new habit. So, if one starts now, they could set themselves up for success on day one of the new school year.

In addition, seeing the benefits of the summer feeding program can compel the kids to participate in the subsidized school breakfast program during the academic year. The USDA stated that only one in six kids who participate in the school lunch program also participates in the school breakfast program.

And, if nothing else, adopting healthy eating habits at a young age can help avert increasingly common health problems in adulthood, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

We write this column knowing full well that this is still summer and it is a time to have fun and, yes, enjoy those comfort foods. We’re not calling for depriving kids of corn dogs at the state fair or the funnel cakes at baseball games. But the summer can be used to show the importance of proper nutrition and its effect on concentration, alertness, and intellectual prowess.”

 

Read the post on the New Orleans Advocate

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