Ideology Versus Reality in the Lunchroom: A Comparative Study of Three School Nutrition Programs

K Mclaren, & T Waters
2006 Californian Journal of Health Promotion   unpublished
American children are becoming increasingly overweight and inactive; consequently, the school lunch room is fast becoming an ideological battle ground. Legislators, medical professionals, school districts, parents, and the media are focusing intense scrutiny on school nutrition programs, and sweeping changes to these programs are federally mandated to occur before July, 2006. However, equal scrutiny has not been focused on the actual operations, logistics, or requirements of these programs.
more » ... ugh interviews, on-site visits, and participant observations, this eight week study focuses on current (April through June 2005) conditions in three economically disparate public school nutrition programs in one California county. This study asks if school nutrition programs can implement the numerous changes required under new cultural (informal) and upcoming federal (formal) mandates. The conclusion in this instance is that no, public schools are under too much existent financial, physical plant-related, and personnel-related strain to be able to easily or effectively retool their nutrition programs to match the burgeoning ideology. This study provides recommendations and considerations for schools, parents, and legislators-not from an ideological elevation, but from the actual locations within which our children are being fed.