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San Francisco Schools Fight Fat

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Summary: Childhood obesity is at alarming levels in this county. Children in the San Francisco Schools are no exception. Too much television and video games, and too little time spent playing outside has led to an epidemic of juvenile health issues. It sure doesn't help that the San Francisco Schools have had to cut funding for physical education over the years. But the 2007-2008 school year does have something positive going for it. Several San Francisco Schools will provide fresh sa...

Childhood obesity is at alarming levels in this county. Children in the San Francisco Schools are no exception. Too much television and video games, and too little time spent playing outside has led to an epidemic of juvenile health issues. It sure doesn't help that the San Francisco Schools have had to cut funding for physical education over the years. But the 2007-2008 school year does have something positive going for it. Several San Francisco Schools will provide fresh salad bars, whole grain options, and whole fruits and vegetable in their cafeterias. Twenty six San Francisco Schools from elementary to high school will benefit from a half a million dollar grant from the mayor's office and the Department of Children, Youth, and their families. This is a big deal. The fact that a school district has actually recognized the importance of nutrition in education is enormous. For the past few decades public education has acted as if the only aspect of learning we should worry about are test scores. The San Francisco Unified School District has been forced to slash the arts, physical education, and anything not seen to directly affect standardized tests. How Does Nutrition Affect San Francisco Schools Students? Teachers in the San Francisco Schools know that a child's academic success lies in several factors: home environment, proper nutrition, and a good night sleep greatly impact a student's ability to pay attention and retain information. The fast food generation currently attending the San Francisco Schools needs to be made aware of how nutrition choices will affect their health. But it's a pretty safe bet that the San Francisco Schools don't have much extra time to teach daily health classes. That's OK, what they're doing now might be even better. Schools need to lead by example. Just think of the message that it sent to children to have soda in vending machines and options like chips, ice cream and fatty meals for lunch fare. The San Francisco Schools are setting an example that the rest of the nation needs to emulate. It's high time that schools look at the messages they are sending to our children. What Else Can the San Francisco Schools Do? While healthier school lunches are a huge improvement to the San Francisco Schools, the reality is that every public school district in the country is struggling to succeed. The San Francisco Schools experimented with the salad bars with pilot programs in a few of the schools last year. Hopefully more San Francisco Schools will follow this example next year. It is more costly for the San Francisco Schools to provide this fresher fare than canned vegetables and mystery meat? I'm sure it is. But the San Francisco Schools will recoup the cost in children who are more likely to pay attention (maybe less ADD diagnoses), higher test scores, children who are less fussy, and who appreciate the taste of fresh foods.
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