My current field is nutrition education (specifically with children/schools) so anything that involves schools, nutrition, education, and childhood obesity/health is on my radar.
“Child nutrition programs”
- National School Lunch
- School Breakfast Program
- After School Snack program
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
These are programs that reimburse a school for the food they supply. They recommend “nutrition education” to coincide with these “feeding” programs, however, there is no set education component to their programs that coincides. Programs like SNAP-Ed, EFNEP and the others mentioned in this post, all offer educationAND sometimes even a small tasting of food to enhance the curriculum and experience.Most people care about the food in schools enough to want better food BUT are not really aware of the lack of education that could be working alongside the feeding programs to kill two birds with one stone ( nutrition behavior AND knowledge to make better decisions).
I cannot tell you how geeked out I was to see the latest IFT newsletter in my inbox! An article from the Huffington Post essentially combines two of my passions (school nutrition and blogging) into one!
In San Antonio, Texas, 5 elementary schools will be taking part in a $2 million research project that will photograph students’ lunch trays twice- once before they sit down to eat and again of the leftovers.
How interesting is that?
As a Food Bloggers , food photography is essential and often coincides with informal nutrition analysis ( you can see the colors, or the grease on the plate, the general portion size, etc). However- I have yet to hear of a software that can analyze (accurately) from the photograph of the nutrient content of the photograph!
I remember thinking of such software in 2008 after I started blogging and took a Medical Nutrition Therapy test. Our professor had us stare at photo of a plate of BBQ and analyze it to our best knowledge. We were all slightly off though some were close. What was difficult was not the nutrient analysis- rather- the amount based on a photo. A 1/4 cup appears very different in a photo than it does in real life.
This $2 million computer program analyzes photos down to how many ounces are on each plate and calculates the number of calories each student ate after analysis of the second photo (when the student returns their plate). The project is funded by a grant through the USDA, and is the first of its kind in the nation. The cameras will not photograph students, only the trays and are about the size of pocket flashlights. Each lunch tray is bar coded, that way the camera can identify each plate when filled up and after it is returned.
Parents will receive the data for their children, hoping that parents will take an interest NOW in what their children are choosing/eating at school.
One part of me says, wow, that is so awesome! The larger part of me says, there are so many statistical errors that would be involved. Don’t get me wrong, I think its fantastic in theory.
Does anyone else see the flaws ?
Who ever traded their jello for a brownie ?
How about their cookie for a juice box ?
Just because it is no longer on that child’s plate does NOT mean that child actually consumed it!
The issue that seems so astounding, evident in Jamie Oliver’s show Food Revolution, is that parents from these schools just seem to not show up or care. I think this is one step in making them aware, so bravo for that.
Will parents actually read about what their child ate at lunch ?
Why spend $2 million in fancy software that would not necessarily be accurate?
How about spending the money to combine existing programs (School Lunch) with an education compononet (SNAP-Ed) to properly teach youth how to choose smart with the foods they are given to eat?
Other Articles you might like: