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Meals at school result in better attendance, higher test scores

November 18th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Satenik Sargsyan

LOGAN–The famous economic principle states: “There are no free lunches.” Students in Logan School District can prove any economist wrong, according to a presentation at the Board of Education meeting Tuesday.

Child and Nutrition program coordinator Paul Guymon told the board about recent changes in the school buffet menus and the real price of free or reduced-price meals.

“We offer school breakfasts as well as lunches,” Guymon said. “There are many different reasons why students don’t eat breakfast: they weren’t hungry when they left, got up too late, didn’t have an adult at home or they didn’t have food at home.

“Whatever the reason, we know that a well-fed child is a well-behaved child.”

Emphasizing the significance of schools in providing adequate nutrition for students who may not be able to afford meals, Guymon said the reduced-price or free meals give those students an opportunity for academic success.

“It’s proven that schools that provide breakfast–which all of our schools do–have students with increased test scores and decreased absenteeism: they want to be there to eat.”

One of the biggest misconceptions about the meals is that they are funded by local taxpayers’ money, Guymon said.

“We get a federal and state reimbursement for free and reduced lunches,” Guymon said. “For every reduced or free meal we get $3.12. The state portion comes from liquor tax.”

While the full-price meals receive some reimbursement as well, the compensation is smaller than the amount received for free or reduced meals, he said. “We make roughly a dollar more on a reduced or free meal than we do for a full meal.”

The breakfast prices range from 95 cents to $1.25, and the lunch prices range from $1.45 to $1.85.

With such low prices for school meals, the question remains, what is contained in school lunches? Do they make children overweight? In response to the question, Guymon presented a number of changes in the meal menus.

“This year we have increased the fiber in our meals. Roughly 15-20 percent of our menu is fruit and vegetables. Wheat tortillas are also new on our menus. We also went from 1 percent chocolate milk to fat free, which has been a huge hit with the kids.”

The new menu items include fresh tomatoes, strawberries and grapes. Fresh produce, especially cucumber, has been popular with elementary school children. The December menu will include tangerines and fresh peas, Guymon said. “Students have a wide variety of choices. It’s not like they only have one item. It gives them an opportunity to pick and choose what they want to eat.”

In 2009-2010 academic year the total number of served meals in Logan schools reached almost a million, he said. This year’s count is at 40,000 breakfasts and 200,000 lunches, of which 55 percent were served at a reduced price or free.


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  1. One Response to “Meals at school result in better attendance, higher test scores”

  2. By Jon on Nov 24, 2010

    The same findings were found in the UK too. Cheap meals not only work as an incentive for parents to send their children into school, it is also an opportunity to educate children about healthy eating.

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