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Houston Independent School District (HISD) in Texas is further addressing the growing issue of childhood obesity by creating a well rounded wellness policy. “The new Houston ISD wellness policy, currently being drafted by the School Health Advisory Council [SHAC], will directly address the use of food as a classroom reward (as well the equally distressing use of exercise as a punishment).” says Bettina Siegel, author of the blog The Lunch Tray
The USDA has been increasing policies on school foods and competitive foods, by making nutrition standards for school meals in the past, and are currently creating standards for competitive foods in school snack lines.
However schools or districts themselves must take the next steps in changing their policies on standards for fundraisers, boosters, and using food in the classrooms (for rewards, incentives, and teaching) if they wish to go a step further as HISD are. Siegel can be seen here discussing the new policy changes on the local HISD and what the SHAC is doing to create a healthy environment for the students in their district.
HISD and Siegel want their students to receive a quality education including nutrition education, and a positive food culture regarding healthy school in their district. Siegel, who discusses the healthy eating challenges that children face daily in her blog, points out that, “whatever nutritional education a child is receiving at school is irrevocably undercut when a teacher passes out candy or fast food restaurant coupons for good performance, or when the school turns a blind eye (or in some cases encourages) fundraising tables heaped with donuts or other junk food.” Food in the classroom offsets what students eat at lunch, especially if birthday parties or rewards are given before lunch. It is also hard for schools to control the nutrition of food brought into classes when there is no policy.
This issue is one of many that HISD’s SHAC will be fighting to improve and change through the updating of their wellness policy.