School Nutrition Programs an Important Teaching Tool and Offer Opportunity to FarmersTue, 08 Nov 2016 16:25:54 CST
Child nutrition and social media expert, Dayle Hayes, visited Oklahoma City this week to speak with school nutrition directors in the area about kids and the correlation between healthy eating and being successful at school, and how to effectively spread that message. Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with Hayes during her visit and talked to her about the importance of today’s school nutrition programs.
“Honestly, it’s a whole different ball game in child nutrition these days,” Hayes said. “And we want the public to know about the nutrition and the taste and the products that are actually being served in schools.”
According to Hayes, the school nutrition program serves approximately 32 million lunches and 15 million breakfasts every day, nationwide.
“It’s a huge market,” Hayes said. “I think that’s one of the things for the agricultural sector to really understand. That’s a market for all kinds of agricultural products and all those products have to be grown in the USA.”
Looking at the numbers, one can see that more than twice the number of lunches are served than breakfasts each day. This is something Hayes and her peers hope to improve upon.
“We really would like to close that breakfast gap even more,” Hayes said. “We’d like more kids who are eligible for the free and reduced price lunch to be getting the breakfast and that’s for one very simple reason - you cannot teach a hungry child.
“If a child comes to school and doesn’t have breakfast, anything that goes on in terms of learning before lunch, is going to be wasted for them.”
Hayes says that the slogan being adopted by schools is that they are feeding bodies, but fueling minds. She confesses that school nutrition programs have become politicized over the years, which she finds unfortunate. Hayes believes feeding hungry children to help them learn and grow to be productive adults is something everyone should be able to stand behind. While she continues her work with policymakers to progress this frame of thought, she is also encouraging new and innovative programs for schools to utilize in providing healthy food to children, farm-to-school programs for instance.
“A lot of schools finding across the country that they can work directly with farmers and ranchers to get those local products into local schools,” Hayes said. “The whole thing about meals in schools is that they provide the foundation for learning.”
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear the full conversation between child nutrition advocate, Dayle Hayes, and Farm Director Ron Hays.
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