School Nutrition

The debate on school food nutrition has been going on for years. In the United States, school lunch is being transformed as some schools partner with local farms for fresh vegetables. The much-needed attention comes after decades of giving children processed foods that were not as nutritious and well flavored to meet the standards of a healthy and nutritional diet. However, recently I learned despite the recommendations to change the school lunch diet, the meals are not as healthy as recommended. Sadly, the meals offered, contain a higher percentage of fried foods, and children often received frozen vegetables and canned fruits. Notably, although the foods fit the food pyramid, the question remains is it possible for schools to offer fresher foods options to reduce the risk of increasing obesity problems among children and other health-related issues. Childhood obesity is a menace, with statistics indicating that one-third of the U.S. population children between the ages of 6 and 19 are overweight or obese (Hennessy, oh, Agurs-Collins, 2014). Consistently, as Hennesy et al., noted, weak competitive food laws contributed to the high number of overweight or obese children. In light of this, we give a detailed report on how fresher food options should replace the current options, key strategies to implement these improved options, and ways in which it will help fight obesity in children. The priority focuses on introducing healthier food options in the pyramid and a dietician to offer advice to schools, design home menus, and educate children on nutrition and diet.

Key Strategies

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A national food and nutrition policy may be hard to formulate and implement due to the wide variation in the schools around the United States. Individual states and counties are therefore responsible for deciding the most appropriate suggestions to meet the school nutrition needs of their children. In light of this, I intend to contact the Columbus City Schools Superintendent/ CEO (Dr. John Stanford), the Executive Director of School Improvement and Innovation (Marcy Drafts), as well as the president of the Ohio Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Heather McCormick). I will contact the three policymakers who I believe can impact changes in the school nutrition through email. In case they fail to respond to my emails, I try contacting them directly through the telephone or pay them a physical visit to their offices. In the meantime, I drafted the proposal I intend to present to them as a way of enhancing the school nutrition for our children.

Children spend most of their daytime hours in schools and consume a considerable percentage of their daily food intake in school, making it the best place to promote healthy eating habits. The best way to ensure that children make better choices is to provide healthier food options in the school. In this case, the schools should consider replacing frozen and canned fruits with fresh ones whenever possible. This can be achieved by liaising with local farmers to deliver fresh vegetables and fruits to the schools. Secondly, the fried foods fit in the food pyramid. However, even if it is possible to fry them in low-fat vegetable oils, Gadiraju, Patel, and Gaziano (2015) note that they absorb a lot of fat when fried making them an unhealthier choice. Instead of fried foods, the schools should consider alternating between sautéed/ stir-fried, baked, grilled, boiled, or stewed food options.

Alongside this strategy, another key goal for the school would be to contract a dietician. Within the school setting, a dietitian supports healthy nutrition for children as a component of health promotion. Modeling healthy eating habits in school and educating children on how to plan, buy, and even prepare healthy foods affects their life-long eating habits.  As noted by Gaba, Shrivastava, and Amadi (2015), dietitians are trained professionals with the right clinical training to offer expert knowledge and advice on nutrition and dietary to help modify diets for improved health. It is also recommended that the dietitians can also offer diet classes to educate children on the importance of proper diet and nutrition. In this case, having a dietitian for the school district can help children and families as well by designing food menus for home, offer appropriate strategies to stay on the right track with the menu, and offer encouragement as well.

Empirical Evidence

According to the school district policy on providing nutritious food for the children, they only serve food in compliance with the current USDA dietary guidelines and USDA Smart Snacks in school nutrition guideline. The USDA recommends a wide variety of canned, frozen, fresh, and dried fruits as well as vegetables. According to Miller, Knudson, and Knudson, W. A. (2014), canned fruits and vegetables have been identified as nutritious options and their availability all year-round makes them a preferred choice. However, there is limited data available to the specific nutritional value of canned fruits and vegetables versus fresh ones. Notably, a study carried out to investigate the nutrition and cost comparisons of certain canned, frozen, and fresh fruits and vegetables unveiled some significant differences. For instance, fresh vegetables such as spinach and turnip greens provide more nutritional value as compared to frozen and canned. On the other hand, canned green beans and carrots provide more nutritional value. Nonetheless, the issue of using canned and frozen versus fresh is relative to the affordability and availability of healthful food options. Thus, it is recommended to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables where affordability and availability permits. Consequently, it is important to note that, dietitians have helped shape and implement school nutrition policies in various parts of the world. Some examples as contained in the Dietitians of Canada include the Anaphylaxis in schools and other settings, third edition revised, which contains updated information on the treatment and effective management of anaphylaxis. According to the Dietitians of Canada, more than fifteen dietitians were involved in the resources of this material. Another example is the provincial and territorial guidance document for the development of nutrient criteria for foods and beverages in schools, which was developed in collaboration with dietitians in Federal, Provincial, and Territorial to facilitate and raise awareness about school nutrition guidelines.

Impact on Nursing

Nutrition plays a critically significant role in the prevention of illness and disease management. Nurses, as well as other healthcare professionals, encounter nutrition issues every day. In healthcare settings, nurses focus on the dietary concerns in patients recovering from illnesses. In schools, nurses provide education on nutritional education to the public to prevent chronic conditions among children. Proper nutrition is not only important in the prevention of diseases, but also in the recovery process. According to DiMaria-Ghalili, Mirtallo, & Tobin (2014), the era of predominantly leaving the responsibility of nutrition education to a dietitian is long gone. Nowadays, the whole clinical team is involved and especially nurses who are required to perform nutrition screening and come up with the right strategies to help patients manage their diet and in their recovery process.

Proper nutrition is important in the health of the children. Eating the proper diet plays a critically significant role in reducing the risk of childhood obesity. However, these calls for participation from the parties involved including the school officials, parents, and the school district to ensure the necessary changes are implemented. A registered dietitian on the payroll of the school district can help advise the parents, design the right home menus, and educate children on the importance of proper nutrition. Notably, too, childhood obesity does not only affect the children and the parents; rather, it is a problem in the society that affects everyone. Nurses play a significant role in nutrition screening, designing the right strategies to help people manage their diet, and improve their recovery process.


Dietitians of Canada. (2018). School nutrition. Retrieved from:

DiMaria-Ghalili, R. A., Mirtallo, J. M., Tobin, B. W., Hark, L., Van, H. L., & Palmer, C. A. (2014). Challenges and opportunities for nutrition education and training in the healthcare professions: intraprofessional and interprofessional call to action. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 99, (5), 1184-1193.

Gaba, A., Shrivastava, A., Amadi, C., & Joshi, A. (2015). The Nutrition and Dietetics Workforce Needs Skills and Expertise in the New York Metropolitan Area. Global Journal of Health Science, 8(6), 14-24.

Gadiraju, T., Patel, Y., Gaziano, J., & Djoussé, L. (2015). Fried Food Consumption and Cardiovascular Health: A Review of Current Evidence. Nutrients, 7(12), 8424-8430.

Hennessy, E., Oh, A., Agurs-Collins, T., Chriqui, J. F., Mâsse, L. C., Moser, R. P., & Perna, F. (2014). State-Level School Competitive Food and Beverage Laws Are Associated With Children’s Weight Status. Journal of School Health, 84(9), 609-616. Miller, S. R., Knudson, W. A., & Knudson, W. A. (2014). Nutrition and Cost Comparisons of Select Canned, Frozen, and Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 8(6), 430-437

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