Nutrition in Chicago Schools

Patricia Hawke for

Chicago Schools are participating the in National School Lunch Program in order to ensure all of their students have the opportunity for proper nutrition needed to grow healthy ands realize their educational potential.  The growing cost of living in the Chicago area has made it increasingly difficult for some parents to afford the proper diet for their children as healthy food has become so  expensive now. Even the cost of a gallon of milk is nearly double its price of two years ago.   Children in Chicago Schools will now have many options available to them for a nutritious lunch, breakfast, or after school snack.      
National School Lunch Program in Chicago Schools
National School Lunch Program (NSLP):  The NSLP in Chicago Schools is completely voluntary, but many are participating in it because it provides cash reimbursement for schools that participate.  Essentially, Chicago Schools participate in order to give your child a low or free of cost meal.  In providing the meals, the government gives those participating Chicago Schools cash to keep the program going. 
Snack Services:  Not all of Chicago Schools provide snack services after school, but they usually will if that school also has an after school program.  The after school program is designed to keep children inside of the Chicago Schools learning and being  constructive versus the temptations and safety issues facing them as latch key kids.   They provide a healthy snack so kids can bridge the gap between lunch and dinner.     
Milk Program:  Chicago Schools also have a milk program that provides free milk to those who cannot afford it.  A cash reimbursement is also given to the schools that do this.  The only stipulation is that a school with the milk program cannot have another NSLP program too.  They have to choose which is the more pressing ned among its students.   
Overall, it is nice to know that Chicago Schools are contributing to the overall health of its students. After all, a healthy child is a happier child and nutrition certainly contributes toward the educational success of children. It has been noted that the NSLP should increase its quality and control ensuring that its food be healthier. NSLP serves mostly processed foods that are increasingly under fire for containing ingredients that lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.  They are used simply out of economics. Some argue that the NSLP in Chicago Schools are contradicting their very goals in failing to provide a truly healthy and nutritious lunch.  Those critical of the current program believe the Chicago Schools should find more funding in order to provide a lunch that doesn’t just claim to be nutritious, but actually is nutritious.  Of course the challenge is finding more funds.
As a parent, you’ve seen your child’s school lunch menu.  How nutritious is it really?  If you have concerns, you can always call your child’s school to ask for the nutritional information available or to just voice a concern about the food service system.  The more parents voicing opinions, the responsive School Districts are to needs for change.       
Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. For more information please visit <a target="_new" href="">Chicago Public Schools</a>