Does Your School Issue Nutrition Report Cards?
We’re all familiar with report cards. Grade school children receive report cards so they and their parents can track student progress. Kids may dread getting a report card, but there’s no denying that report cards are indispensable tools. They help everyone with a stake in the process of learning—including parents, students and educator—strive to do a better job of learning. Little Susie may be making an A in reading, but if she’s getting a D in math, her parents will know it’s time to focus on improving her addition and subtraction skills.
We know that good nutrition is crucial for proper brain development and optimal learning, not to mention general health. So it’s not too surprising that someone finally came up with the idea of tracking what kids are eating in school, in order to issue a regular “nutrition report card.”
Scientists at Cornell University recently completed a pilot program that did just that. They set up a system to track kids’ purchases in the school cafeteria. Parents then received regular reports detailing how kids were spending lunch money. The reports allowed parents to evaluate what kinds of foods their kids were filling up on at school, and how they were spending their money. The idea was that parents might use that information to encourage better nutrition choices at home. And that’s exactly what happened.
The reports “encouraged more home conversations about nutrition and more awareness of food selections,” say researchers. And kids’ behavior at school began to change as a result. Cookie sales dropped by nearly eight percent, and parents reported adjusting home meals to include more fruits and vegetables. The nutritional report cards were viewed as a big success, although the number of children participating was small. The report cards “are a feasible and inexpensive tool to guide children towards healthier choices,” investigators concluded.
I’d say that anything that enables parents to get a better grip on what their kids are eating is a good thing. Wouldn’t it be great if your school implemented a similar program?