By Rochelle Davis, Founding Executive Director
Last month, we had the first meeting of our Principal Advisory Committee, a group of principals who are helping us develop programs and tools to assist principals in implementing wellness programming in their schools. One of the principals talked about her frustration with the wide availability of unhealthy food in food outlets near her school, a situation that each of the principals said existed at their schools.
Each of their schools has taken steps to reduce the availability of unhealthy food in their schools either in vending machines, school stores, school fundraisers and teacher rewards. However, students make a quick stop at the stores near their schools both before and after schools. It is interesting that a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that limiting the availability of soft drinks did little to curb overall consumption and identified the availability of unhealthy food near schools as a contributing factor.
While the report cites the need for zoning regulations to address the types of food outlets in school areas, I think that the focus should be on making sure that the school food program has plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and that students are learning about healthy food through gardening, cooking and other curriculum. With good options and good nutrition education, students can be better prepared to make healthy choices.