Child nutrition programs administered by United States Department of Agriculture are started to make sure that nutritious meals are provided to children. This institute works through proper mechanism because its research and actions center works on making partnerships and improving the public policy to remove hunger. The work on a “No Kid Hungry” policy that gives them strength. The details of these assistance programs are described in the discussion.
The total program of USDA spent about 22 billion dollars in the year 2016. They play a major role in the well-being and food security of children. This system works by an application process where benefits are granted to schools after fulfilling the eligibility requirements. Some of the programs that are administered by USDA are here.
National School Lunch Program
It is the second largest assistance program working in the nation. They offer low-cost lunches to students in schools. All the students of schools participating in this program are eligible to get these free and low-cost lunches. The criteria include free lunches for students having an income level below than 130% poverty. However, lunches on reduced price are for children whose income lie between the 130% and 185% poverty. Even in 2016, 60% of the total budget of the program was allocated to the lunch program. The response of the public was positive as they favor it because of the effective approach of menu planning (Federal Register, 2012). The schools that are high in poverty are given access to this programs. The lunch is provided with a mix of vegetables that is healthy for students. However, this increased amount of vegetables was not of any significant benefit because many children do not eat this healthy food. So, USDA encourages schools to use locally produced meals so that students will be willing to try new things.
School Breakfast Program (SBP)
It is a program founded under Child Nutrition Act in 1966. In this program, participating schools offer free breakfast to their students. The number of schools participating in this increased after 1990 and every year the annual increase is about 9%. Even there are about 3000 residential institutes of child care participate in this program. Even the number of a student participating in this program has also increased. This step was taken because the obesity in children increased drastically in the period of 1980s to 90s, so the food needed for healthy diet included proteins, fruits, vegetables and grains (Anon., 2014). Diet quality should be good to prevent the diseases and promote health. Even the research has also measured the effect of these projects on learning. The results were in favor of serving appealing and healthy breakfast while remaining in the cost constraints.
Child and Adult Care Food program
It is a program that serves snacks and meals to the children spending their day at daycare homes, homeless shelters, child care centers, after-school programs and even adult care centers where adults or physically impaired people are present. This program is really helpful for the working parents. It makes it affordable for them as well as the quality of daycare is improved. 50% students coming to these centers are eligible for these meals. The standards for the meal were updated in April 2016, and the daycare centers should comply with them from October 2017. These standards included whole grain, fruits, and vegetables. The reimbursement structure used in this program is similar to the one used in school meals. The rates are set on two tiers; tier one is for high reimbursement. The students participating in this system are increasing in spite of the decrease in students attending day care services.
Summer Food Service Program
This SFSP provides food in peak months of summer. It supplied food to 48,619 sites catering needs of 2.8 million children. The areas that are covered by this program include camps, schools, parks, housing projects, churches, community centers and other sites of the public. The places where children gather in days of summer are the main focus of this program. The emphasis is kept on areas where students come from income level of 185% or below according to the Federal poverty level.
After – School Snacks and Suppers
It is a program for providing snacks to children of school through Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The schools where 50% students are eligible under this program, qualify for area eligible schools. The 92% of snacks under this program are given to eligible area schools. These snacks are served with the help of sponsors coming from the third party. The areas at risk are also allowed to deal in after-school suppers with the help of community programs.
These programs are offered for the support of disadvantaged and low-income students who cannot afford nutritious food. It is specially designed because those students are at risk and by offering their needs through community programs will help in fulfilling their health needs at the time. The breakfast and lunch programs are main components of these programs. Food coming under these programs had vegetables, fruits, and even milk programs and designed after the consultation from specialists. The main focus is to fight obesity and hunger that is becoming common in communities because of unhealthy food. It is a low cost, nutritionally balanced program for the students administered by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Anon., 2014. The position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Nutrition Guidance for Healthy Children Ages 2 to 11 years. Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 114(8).
Register, F., 2012. Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, s.l.: National Archives and Records Administration.