School Cafeteria Lunch Programs in the United States

Guest Post

Regular readers will be aware that I have occasionally presented ‘Guest Posts’ on behalf of colleagues.  I’d like to introduce yet another Trans-Atlantic contribution.

This time by Lauren Bailey [see by-line below].  We would both welcome your comments to this special Guest Post, especially as schools meals (and meals on wheels for the elderly) are such big subjects over here in the UK too.

School Cafeteria Lunch Programs in the United States

With childhood obesity and childhood type II diabetes steadily on the rise in U.S. in the past decade, there’s no denying that our society’s diet needs to be altered. In the past, the term “obesity” was only associated with adults because only adults could become clinically obese. According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, however, childhood obesity affects nearly 25 million children today and is termed one of the most threatening epidemics in U.S. history. The truth is, in most cases, childhood obesity is the result of a flawed lifestyle. Genetics do come into play to some degree, but the only way a child can be clinically obese is if they ingest more calories than they expend. For many years now, the nutritional value of lunches in school cafeterias throughout the country has been under great debate.

School cafeterias have served greasy pizza slices, sugary soft drinks, fattening desserts, and tons of fried side dishes for years and years. In the past, schools’ cafeterias and vending machines were stocked with processed foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt. With our kid’s health classes constantly preaching a healthy diet to help fuel their minds, it’s a strange contradiction to serve extraordinarily unhealthy food choices to our young learners. In many ways, kids were trapped into an unhealthy diet by the delicious, but dangerous food choices their educators and mentors provided them. With Michelle Obama and celebrity chefs speaking out about childhood obesity and diet, movement is afoot to bring change to school lunch programs across the country.


Michelle Obama has made it her mission as First Lady to improve the health of America’s youth. In 2010, she lobbied to Congress for the Child Nutrition Bill that expanded the school lunch program and set new standards to improve the quality of school meals. These government guidelines have helped schools prepare lunches that include fewer fried foods, smaller servings, and no cupcakes. These small steps in school districts across the country have helped make school lunches healthier and more suitable for our youth.


While these changes in school guidelines nationwide have been a drastic improvement, there are several obstacles still in place. One of the most struggling aspects of improving the diets of our children (and our nation as a whole) is money. For some reason, healthier food costs more. This is a huge concern for public schools trying to improve their school lunch menus. Schools receive $2.68 for each free meal that they serve through the National School Lunch Program. This small wage is used to purchase the food, pay the labor, and maintain the facility. Needless to say, $3 just isn’t enough to easily purchase non-processed organic food. Schools are being forced to raise their prices for their lunches, causing some students and their parents to really struggle.


This all just feels very backwards. Why would it cost more to provide our children with healthier meals? Why should schools and parents be burdened with high costs just to keep their students (our future leaders) well fed and ready to learn? Our own health and especially our youth’s health should be of top priority. While things are looking up for school lunches in the United States cafeteria rooms, there is still much to be addressed. But, with the growing awareness of the health risks a poor diet poses and the growing concern about the obesity epidemic among America’s youth, things can only improve.


By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for best online colleges.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99 @gmail.com

Yellow Pages

photograph of yellow pages phone bookHow many of us still use Yellow Pages?

Really? – the paper version, phone book style?

Really?

I have received two copies of the new publication this week. One of them will replace the older one I keep in the office and the second will go in the recycle bin.

When I say office, I mean that’s where I used to keep the white pages phone book, the Thomson Pages AND the Yellow Pages. I don’t have an office as such any more and I really don’t know where Sharon keeps these relics of a former time. I cannot remember the last time I opened such a tome. Everything known to man and beast can be found on the Internet these days and if my regular friends and colleagues aren’t in my mobile phone contacts list, I’ll email them!

These days, if I want a plumber etc, I go to Google and type in Plumbers +Huddersfield and then choose from the answers given. Why do I need something that takes up space in my house and costs a packet to produce and distribute? something I never, ever use.

While I’m on it, Steve Smith and I were discussing the jobs that seem to have little point and even if minimum wage is paid – seem to be a waste of money: money that would be better used to pay essential services like nurses, hospital porters and God forbid the thought – more teachers.

  • Job-1 – a guy sits on a stool at the bus entrance to Leeds City bus station all day. Why? To stop pedestrians walking into the bus lanes! Surely a barrier and BIG fines would do the job cheaper.
  • Job-2 – (sorry Leeds) there’s a guy stands by the taxi rank, simply to tell taxi A (B, C, or D etc) that the rank itself (out of sight around the corner) is clear now and there is room to ‘move up’. Surely a big mirror could do that? 

Sorry – rant over 🙂 Nevertheless – Yellow Pages. Why?


1996 – 2011

It occurred to me the other day that I should perhaps reflect upon my fifteen years of Internet familiarity and use. And then, this morning thanks to a Tweet by Sarah Horrigan, I came across this:
http://mashable.com/2011/09/09/internet-yesterday-today/

Spookily, the dates coincide with my own Internet usage.

I’d heard about the Internet for a couple of years but when, in August 1996, I travelled to Australia with workmate Stephen, I experienced it for the first time. Pat and Joe in Berowra (north of Sydney), Stephen’s close relatives, had an Internet connection and I tried and better tried to get a grip of what it was I was looking at. Yahoo! seemed to be Joe’s favourite site and because he ‘searched’ with it AND emailed with it, I was marginally confused about what it actually did.

All rights belong to https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1d/Altavista-logo.pngDetermined to find out, I used to spend every spare moment I had at work, on one of only two Internet-enabled machines available to Dewsbury College staff. Much of the rest of 1996 was spent looking at Yahoo! and other sites like Alta Vista and Excite.

I also enrolled on an html writing course and although I would never say I could code a full web-site, I learned enough to get by (as I still do).

My time on the college Internet-enabled machines was noticed and I eventually became involved with in-house staff development. I spread my burgeoning Internet skills amongst staff and over those early years, to evening classes, often populated by what we now call silver surfers.  So what else has happened over those fifteen years?

Well, an awful lot.

The college started to use email as a main means of communication (that took some explaining/training); the college (thanks to Becta funding and JANET) began to buy more computers that could be linked to the Internet; more and more sites then began to be blocked by the college, the Internet doubled in size each year (at least); other technologies thrived alongside the Internet (Flash etc.); Microsoft began to create usable tools like Word ’97 and PowerPoint; YouTube came along and blew us all away; MySpace and then Facebook came along; Twitter won the battle of micro-blogs (at the expense of my favourite Jaiku) and – eventually, colleagues began to ‘get’ the technology revolution.

It’s hard to imagine what the next fifteen years will bring.

Windows Movie Maker

I’m currently doing some work for JISC TechDis, which requires me to undertake an inclusive review of Windows 7. At first, this was a shock as I haven’t used Windows regularly since the days of XP and 2003. I only dabbled with Vista, often giving up the will to live: After a few  months of dabbling, I bought my MacBook Pro and haven’t looked back.

I’ve grown to like some of the features offered by Windows 7 and in time I may well write about my experiences and findings, but for now I want to delve into the ways I’ve tried to capture evidence and present training resources. 

It would make sense (wouldn’t it?) to do screen captures and edit them on the machine  was using? Well, I thought that would be a breeze but it’s been less than straight forward! My first thought was to use Screenr. This would allow me to present an online version or a downloaded .mp4 version – both of good quality. Coupled with a word-processed ‘How To’ document and a transcription, I’d thought it would be ok. However, it’s impossible to edit after completion….

So, because Windows ‘Live’ Movie Maker (LMM) is ‘new and improved’ and it now edits more than .wmv and .avi movies, I downloaded that with a view to muting my audio and relaying a new audio track over the top.
David Sugden (dsugden) on Twitter
Well, I used to be able to make Windows Movie Maker (WMM) sing and dance and often stood its corner against Apple’s iMovie enthusiasts. The WMM 6 that came with Vista was Vista’s one stand-out success but LMM bears no resemblance.
I spent half a day trying to get it to do ‘stuff’ before posting my frustration on Twitter. The one reply tells its own story!

So how was I going to make my edits? I thought I’d start again, ditch Screenr and use CamStudio instead. But CamStudio can be dodgy on Windows 7, the USB stick version (on AccessApps) often crashes and on occasion, so does the downloaded full version. Furthermore, I was still faced with the editing problem.

I then thought to search t’Internet!

And hey presto – I downloaded WMM 6 [Get it here: http://members.shaw.ca/wmm6/wmm6.html], installed it and although it won’t allow me to record audio directly over the movie, I can razor bits of audio (can’t see a razor or cut tool at all on the new and improved (sic) LMM) and mute as required. I can then lay over Audacity created voice overs with ease. However, I can’t edit my Screenr creations, I HAVE to use CamStudio. But (another but?) I can do screenshots, crop them in the new Paint, use the motion effects in WMM 6 and record audacity as they go through the motions. A bit of ‘stretch to fit’ then seems to work well.

It’s a bit of an arse about face to work, but if Screenr won’t do – there you go. Of course, if it was OSX I was working with …..  😉

b.t.w. – what have I missed with Windows Live Movie Maker? Is it really bad, or am I just not looking in the right places?