School Lunch from a Public Health Perspective
As a Public Health student, we’re always taught the importance of access to healthcare, proper resources, and the implications of the lack of it. As many of us know, nutrition is one of the three factors that impacts a child’s development, the other two being the environment and our genetic makeup. Many research studies echo the fact that nutrition in a child’s early years is linked to better health and stronger academic test performance later in life. With my background, you can imagine my shock when I learned about what kids were being served in the cafeteria…warmed up junk food?! I was shocked at how Boston and the school system were okay with this? For many of the children in East Boston, this is their only meal of the day and this is the food that the kids will be eating for many of the developing years of their life. Our children deserve better.
To step into the East Boston Pilot program was a Public Health student’s dream. The transformation of school lunches in the East Boston has the ability to impact children's’ health outcomes, nutritional choices, exposure to a variety of food choices, and social skills...basically everything I learned about in Public Health School. It was interesting to see the difference in social interaction that ladling the food, rather than handing a plastic wrapped lunch had on a student. Pushing kids outside their comfort zone and exposing them to different foods that they were discovering they enjoyed is incredible. The excitement with which kids exclaim and say that “they have their own restaurant at school” is just adorable. To be a part of such an amazing effort and transition is an extremely humbling and fulfilling experience. I am extremely proud to be a part of it.