How School Feeding Program Started
Plethora of scientific studies reveals a strong link between child nutrition and learning process. This has backed up the need to have school feeding programs in order to improve the educational performance of children in school. In presence of good nutrition, child learning concentration is increased. It also helps to retain children in school and have less absenteeism. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is one of such school feeding programs in the United States of America. The main purpose of this presentation is to discuss whether the National School Lunch Program plays any significant role or it is supposed to be done away with.
How School Feeding Program Started School feeding programs dates back several hundred years ago. For instances, in 1790 in Germany there was an integrated teaching program and feeding program that catered for vagrant children in Munich. Later, several societies came up in other cities and privately funded societies with a special purpose of school feeding program. This led to formation of the Society for Feeding Needy School Children at Dresden in 1880, which was the first and of it own kind.
In France, it started with Victor Hugo while in exile. He provided funds for meals to the children in a nearby school. About six years later a school feeding called the Society’s for People’s Kitchens in the Public Schools was established in Angers, France with aim to provide meals at school to needy children (Mayer, pp 124). In 1905, England passed the Education Act which concerned meal provision as result of the efforts of more than three hundred and fifty charitable organizations in attempt to provide meals at school to the needy children.
Holland through royal decree in 1900, it authorized municipalities to supply food and clothing to both public and private school children who were unable to ,due to lack of food and clothes, attend school regularly or to those who would be likely drop out of school as because of lack of food and clothing. By start of 1900s, school feeding had spread virtually in all European countries. United States was not left behind in the progress of school feeding. Similar evolution did occur that started with sporadic food services which were at first undertaken by private societies and associations interested in child welfare and education.
For example, in 1883 the Children’s Aid Society of New York initiated a program that served meals to the students who attended the vocational school. School feeding program gained momentum due to the influence from a book by Robert Hunter known as Poverty in 1904. In his book he articulated that there is need to meet physical needs of every child who comes from poverty stricken homes (Gunderson, pp 55). As he puts it, parental guidance and supervision is less likely to succeed because of great task to feed many hungry mouths and that learning is difficult when in an empty stomach and languid bodies and thin blood to replenish the brain.
He considered that thousands of children in New York City arrived at school hungry and unprepared for learning. Therefore, if at all America democratic principle that every child has to receive some amount of instruction, it has to do what other monarchial countries have done, that is adequate provision for physical needs of children from poor families. Shortly after the publication of Hunter’s Poverty another publication came up which addressed issue of poverty and plight of poverty-stricken families.
It was called The Bitter Cry of the Children by John Spargo. His publication featured more on misfortunes and effect of malnutrition on physical and mental well being of the children. He estimated that, from a study he conducted, more than two million children of school age in the United States were subjected to poverty that deprived basic necessities especially adequate nourishment. He observed that children who came from such backgrounds were often incapable of successful mental effort and thus making nation’s expenditure for education to be a waste.
The main theme in Spargo’s publication was the importance and appropriateness of feeding the school children (http://www. fns. usda. gov/cnd/Lunch/AboutLunch/ProgramHistory_2. htm, para. 3). National School Lunch Act in United States By the fall of 1900 significant efforts at school feeing were evident in Philadelphia and Boston. The Starr Association began serving penny lunches in Philadelphia in 1894. In Boston feeding programs were inaugurated under auspices of the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union. It started serving hot lunches by the last quarter of 1908 under supervision of the Boston School Committee.
The same year when Poverty publication was out, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, through Women’s School Alliance of Wisconsin, lunches were furnished to the children in three centers in areas where both parent were working and had greatest need. This project was supported by donations from private individuals, churches, societies and clubs. As Robert Hunter expressed it in his publication Hunter, approximately seventy thousand school children in New York were not capable of performing well in class due to malnutrition.
This situation had been noted by the Children’s Aid Society of New York earlier on in 1853 when it began providing lunches to students at vocational education. There were no significant programs in public school until 1908 when superintendent of schools Dr. William H. Maxwell made a special plea in his report to the board of education that due to the suffering children which they underwent there was a need to establish in each school facility whereby the pupils might get a simple wholesome food at cost price.
In response to this a school lunch committee was established that consisted of physicians and social workers to find out if a lunch at three-cent charge to students could have been self supporting. This led to selection of two schools as pilot project to find out the feasibility of such programs. After they recorded a success two years later, there was expansion of the program to other schools in the New York City. In Ohio by 1914-1915 the normal school and all high schools except two were served with lunch services. Similar progress happened in other areas such as St.
Louis, Cincinnati and Cleveland just to mention but a few (Zucchino & Ranney, pp 33). The depression years of 1930s heightened the concern due to hunger and malnourishment among the school children where many states and municipalities adopted legislation some that included appropriation so as to enable schools to serve mid-day meals to children. In 1937, fifteen states had passed law that authorized local schools boards to operate lunchrooms. As programs were run it become evident that local government and school district board could not meet that cost of these programs and aid from federal sources was the only way out.
This made 74th Congress to take action in 1935 in order to aid both agriculture and school lunch program by passing Public Law 320 and its approval that made provision to the Secretary of Agriculture fund amounting to thirty percent of gross receipts collected under the customs law each calendar year. However, the program did not expand as fast as it was expected due to constraints posed by lack of funds as the Congress made year-to –year appropriations and decline in federal support.
This made 79th Congress introduce Legislation that could give the program permanent status and authorize necessary appropriations as this was the basic cause that affected program’s progress. This legislation was identified as the National School Lunch Act which stated clearly Congress policy to grant aid for adequate supply of food and other needed facilities to establish, maintain and operate expansion of non profit school lunch program. This culminated to establishment of National School Lunch Program in United States (Allensworth, pp 220).
Operations of National School Lunch Program (NSLP) National School Lunch Program is therefore federal and state reimbursement program for every meal that is served meet federal requirements. It demands that all NSLP sponsors to offer free and reduced price meals to the eligible children. These reimbursement rates are established yearly by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and sponsors receive USDA commodities for each lunch they serve. Different kinds of commodities sponsors receive depend on product availability and existing market prices.
Different schools are eligible to participate such as public school, charter school, intermediate area vocational technical, career technology school tax exempt non-public school or residential child care institution. All the children from families with incomes below 130% of the poverty level, children in receiving food stamp benefits and children in families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families qualifies for free lunches. Children who are from families whose income ranges between 130% and 185% of poverty level are eligible for lunches but at a reduced cost (http://www.
pde. state. pa. us/food_nutrition/cwp/view. asp? a=5&Q=45622, para. 4). When this program started it had about seven million children. After two decades the number had risen to twenty two million. In academic year 2006-2007, approximately thirty million children were in NSLP that included more than ninety nine and eight hundred thousand schools and residential child care institutions. In any typical school day during this period, almost eighteen million of these children received free or reduced price lunches.
It is estimated that since the program started more than one hundred and eight billion lunches have been provided. As the program expanded, the funding cost also increases. When the program started in 1957 it cost $ 70 million. This increased to $ 225. 8 million in 1960 and in 1980 $ 3. 2 billion was spent in the running of the program. The cost of the program by the end of fiscal year 2007, it had tripled to $ 8. 7 billion (http://209. 85. 229. 132/search? q=cache:CB8GDWGR9XsJ:www. fns. usda. gov/cnd/lunch/AboutLunch/NSLPFactsheet. pdf+National+School+Lunch+Program&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=ke, para.
8). Is National School Feeding Program Necessary? One of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is to achieve universal primary school education particularly by ensuring that globally boys and girls are able to have full course of primary schooling. The success of child’s education depends on accessibility and attendance to school. Studies findings indicate that attendance in school is of great significance as it promotes academic performance. However, child’s attendance to school and performance are strongly related to their health and nutrition status.
As Hunters in his book, poverty and Spargo’s publication The Bitter Cry of the Children put it, child’s health and nutrition status are strong determinants in school performance. A hungry child would rarely concentrate in the class during learning session. In the first place if there is no food it will be difficult for that child to go to school. Malnourished children are susceptible to diseases because their immune system is compromised and have increased disease frequency. Good nutrition promotes increased learning concentration and brain is provided by necessary nutrients for it to function properly.
Malnutrition adversely affects many aspects of child health and development. Thus school feeding programs have been designed to provide food to the hungry children especially who come from poor families which helps improves their physical, mental and psychological health (Staley, 56). School feeding programs have evolved in the last two centuries with aim to provide food for the children from families which are poverty stricken where there is likelihood that without such intervention they would not be able to continue with their education.
This has been the rationale behind establishment of school feeding programs all over the world. School feeding programs have been found to be successful in retaining children is school. They not only increase attendance rates in school but also act as safety nets in areas where food is scarce. National School Feeding Lunch Program is not exceptional. It aims at providing lunch at free or reduced cost to meet school children’s food and nutrition needs while it retains them in school. Such program though not well established, they with private societies and associations interested in child welfare and education.
Through advocacy of individuals such as Hunters, John Spargo and Dr. William H. Maxwell because of the plight many children were undergoing, school feeding program proved to be necessary and government decided to assume this responsibility by passing a National School Lunch Act. Since this program started thousands of school children from needy families have benefited from this program and up-to-date it continues to play this vital role. Conclusion School feeding program started as early as 1800s and was implemented in different parts of the world.
In United States, The National School Lunch Program was established by 79th Congress through National School Lunch Act that gave the program permanent status. The main objective was to secure the welfare of American children who came from the family which was financially constrained. This gave such children got an opportunity to learning peacefully while their nutrition aspects were taken care of. Therefore, it plays a pivotal in sector of education and health and due to its remarkable past record it is necessary to have it. Work Cited: Allensworth D. D. , Schools & Health: Our Nation’s Investment.
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