‘Walking school buses’ get kids moving

“Walking school buses” — kids walking home with an adult volunteer — are catching on from Iowa to Rhode Island, reports AP.

As a group of children walked home together from school in Providence, they held hands and played the “I Spy” guessing game. When they reached a busy intersection, an adult accompanying them prodded, “What’s the rule?”

“Behind the line!” they said in unison, as they stepped back from the edge of the curb and waited for the walk signal

“Walking school buses are . . . seen as a way to fight childhood obesity, improve attendance rates and ensure that kids get to school safely.”

About a third of children who live within a mile of school walk to school, according to the National Center for Safe Routes to School. Walking is increasing.

In the baby boom days, we all walked to school — without an adult — from kindergarten on. Uphill both ways, of course.

 

Class time is breakfast time in LA

Government Assistance Programs Aid Underprivileged Communities In New York State

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For the first 15 or 20 minutes of the school day, Los Angeles Unified students eat a free breakfast in their classrooms. Los Angeles Unified is expanding the program to schools where few kids are eligible for a free meal, reports KPCC. Parents say the food is loaded with sugar. Teachers resent the mess and the loss of teaching time.

For the first day of breakfast in the classroom for all students at Castle Heights Elementary Thursday, the menu included whole wheat pancakes, syrup, wildberry juice and milk.

. . . Castle Heights is in the affluent Cheviot Hills neighborhood in West Los Angeles and only 30 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced lunch, way below the district average of 85 percent.

The school used to serve breakfast before school in the multi-purpose room to students who qualified for free or reduced-price meals. But expanding the program to every child — unless parents opt out — raises revenues because the meals are federally subsidized.

David Binkle, director of L.A. Unified’s food service division, said kids won’t lose out on instruction because teachers are required to teach while the students are eating.

“The bottom line is it’s good for children, and you can’t argue with good,” he said. The program is set to roll out to all schools in the district by the end of the 2014-2015 year.

Moving breakfast — and enrolling more students — has saved cafeteria workers’ jobs, Binkle said. The district now serves 300,000 breakfasts in classrooms every school day.

“But with cuts to janitorial services, teachers have complained the food is attracting pests – and they say setup and clean up time is cutting into teaching time,” reports KPCC.

“Parents are now told not to feed children at home,” reports Take Part.

While 51 percent of teachers don’t like the program, it’s bringing in federal dollars. Less than 30 percent of students showed up early for breakfast when it was served in the cafeteria, reports Take Part. Serving a free breakfast to every student will bring in “$20 million a year once the program is expanded through all grade levels.”

Kids won’t eat healthy school lunches

Making School Lunches Healthier Doesn’t Mean Kids Will Eat Them, writes Olga Khazan in The Atlantic.

Los Angeles Unified has been fighting childhood obesity for years: It ” outlawed sodas in schools in 2004, banned selling junk food on campus, and swapped the bulk of its canned and frozen produce for fresh,” writes Khazan. Still,  42 percent of students are overweight or obese.

In 2011, the district went after school lunches.

. .  .the new menus were the most austere measure yet, cutting kid-friendly favorites like chocolate milk, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, and nachos. Instead, little Jayden and Mia would dine would dine on vegetarian curries, tostada salad, and fresh pears.

A student rebellion ensued—kids brought Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to school rather than much on quinoa salad—and L.A. Unified was forced to settle for a middle ground between Alice Waters and Ronald McDonald.

Under the new new menu, “Hamburgers will be offered daily,” the L.A. Times reported. “Some of the more exotic dishes are out, including the beef jambalaya, vegetable curry, pad Thai, lentil and brown rice cutlets, and quinoa and black-eyed pea salads. And the Caribbean meatball sauce will be changed to the more familiar teriyaki flavor.”

But students are still “beelining toward carbs and meat and avoiding fruits and vegetables,” according to a study in the April issue of Preventative Medicine. Examining middle schoolers lunch trays, researchers found that “32 percent of students did not take the fruit from the line, and almost 40 percent did not take the vegetables. Among those who did take a fruit or vegetable, 22 percent threw away the fruit and 31 percent tossed the vegetables without eating a single bite.”

 So in essence, just over half the students both took and ate some fruit, and about 42 percent both took and ate a vegetable.

Salads were the most common vegetable to be left untouched, while whole fruits, like apples and oranges, were far less popular than fruit cups or juices.

Food waste totals at least $100,000 a day, estimates the Times.

School districts are losing their paying lunchers because of new federal regulations, reports Reason. Congressional Republicans may give money-losing districts a one-year waiver of federal regulations, reports Reason.

Michelle Obama adamantly opposes any changes, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Other proposed changes include “scrapping a requirement that foods be 100% whole-grain by July 2014 and sticking with the current 50% target; holding to the newly enacted standard for sodium rather than a lower target scheduled to go into effect in a few years; and eliminating the requirement that students take a fruit or vegetable, regardless of whether they plan to eat it.”

One of my stepdaughter is a nutritionist who designs school lunches. The insanely complex guidelines must be met every day, she says. It’s not possible to go a little under in one category on Monday and make it up on Tuesday.

Fat or fit?

This nine-year-old — 4-foot-1 and 66 pounds — is overweight, according to a “Fitnessgram” sent home by her Staten Island school. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God! Why did I get this?’” Gwendolyn Williams said.

Photo: New York Post, Stephen Yang.

Photo: New York Post, Stephen Yang.

 Nearly a third of the world’s population is overweight or obese, according to a new report. The rate for children is up by 47 percent from 1980 to 2013.  About 23 percent of children in developed countries were found to be overweight or obese. Even in poor countries, there are more overweight kids.

Governor rejects chocolate milk ban

Chocolate milk will not be banned in Connecticut schools. Gov. Dannel Malloy will not sign a last-minute bill that inadvertently bans chocolate milk. Lawmakers were trying to comply with new federal school lunch standards on sodium. They didn’t realize they were outlawing the most popular form of milk in school lunches.

Chocolate milk provides calcium, vitamin A, potassium and other nutrients, said Lonnie Burt, the chief nutritionist of Hartford Public Schools. “If chocolate milk is not one of the available options, then I believe students will decrease consumption of milk overall,” Burt said.

Puberty — in 1955

Remember movies in Health class? (I always thought it should be called Vice.) A 1955 movie teaches teens about puberty.

Choosing death at 15

At a suburban Virginia high school six students have committed suicide in the last three years, reports the Washington Post.

“There is too much stress in my life from school and the environment it creates, expectations for sports, expectations from my friends and expectations from my family,” wrote Jack Chen, 15. He’d earned a 4.3 grade point average, captained the junior varsity football team and competed in crew and track. He stepped in front of a train.

The six boys who killed themselves were good students and athletes with supportive parents, according to the Post. They did not appear to be “troubled.”

Learn like a baby

Researchers are working on pills that enable learning by returning brain chemistry to “critical periods” of development, writes Olga Khazan in The Atlantic. Young children with rapidly growing brains can learn new skills more quickly than adults.

The goal is to help people with developmental disorders or brain injury in adulthood.

Your tax dollars fruved

The “Get Fruved” campaign, funded by your federal tax dollars, features college students dressed up as fruits and vegetables who pretend to stalk students in their dorms, reports the Daily CallerIn one video, a student-funded pilot, the male student in the grape costume approaches a female student and says, “You’re looking grape today!”

It’s so bad it’s . . . bad.

“The campaign will center around five teams (Spinach, Carrot, Banana, Grapes, and Tomato) with teams lead by costumed mascots,” according to the website. And social media. There will be social media.  

Anti-vaxxer logic

Courtney Mccarthy's photo.