The numbers show that 1 in 5 Texas families doesn’t have enough food to eat. The result is that many students go to school hungry. This can impact students’ health and academic performance.
Children at Risk is known for rankings schools for academics. The nonprofit looks at many issues affecting children. For the first time, the organization decided to rank school nutrition programs. Managing Director Ron Sylvan says nutrition plays a big role in students doing well in school.
More than 80 percent of Aldine families are economically disadvantaged. The district qualified for the free meal program under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. This allowed for all students in AISD to receive free breakfast and lunch. Dani Sheffield stated she and her staff look for ways to ensure students have access to healthy meals. Sheffield is executive director of the district’s Child Nutrition Services Department.
“Students shouldn’t be hungry when they are at school,” said Sheffield. “We offer free breakfast and lunch to all students. And we have other programs that benefit students. Nutritious meals help students develop healthy minds and bodies. We want students to have the energy and focus they need to learn in class.“
The study looked at 63 districts with at least 10,000 students. The districts also had to have at least 60 percent of children eligible for free and reduced meals. Aldine’s nutrition program ranked among the top five school districts with more than 50,000 students. San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and Austin ISDs were also in the top five.
Each district chooses its own approach on how to feed their students by using a combination of federal programs such as SNAP, WIC and School Nutrition Programs.
The most successful districts had breakfast participation rates around 80 percent. The weakest districts were around 20 percent.
“We have a lot of families taking advantage of free school meals,” said Sheffield. “Much of the success goes to the staff and campuses for promoting the various programs. We are always looking for ways to ensure students are getting the nutrition they need. As we see it, we are fueling the future one meal or snack at a time.“
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