To the Editor:
Now that school is beginning again, it is important to note that making unhealthy food choices in and outside the home is likely a strong contributor to the high incidence of overweight and obese adults and children in the United States.
To halt this growing epidemic in children, some schools have implemented nutritional programs that teach kids how to make healthy food choices through hands-on learning. However, cultural practices, socioeconomic factors, and lack of nutritional education for children’s parents or guardians can greatly influence and contribute to making poor food choices. And so, what students learn at school may not have much impact in changing the behaviors learned and practiced at home.
It is our opinion that schools should attempt to educate parents and guardians, perhaps by having students bring “homework” home that involves meal preparation. Teachers could provide recipe options and include produce from a local farmer (great for farm-to-school week) or from a student-tended school garden. An assignment could be based on the television show on the Food Network’s “Chopped” for which students could be randomly assigned different ingredients to cook with at home.
Perhaps if educators involved (and also educated) parents and guardians, long-standing dietary habits could be improved for students and those who take care of them.
Julie M. Fagan
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Arianny Nunez, Caela Lenhardt, Jessica Geiger
New Brunswick, N.J.
A version of this article appeared in the September 07, 2016 edition of Education Week as Homework Assignments To Foster Healthy Eating