eschoolsWhats That Cookin?Advocacy Project Research PaperFar too many American children have diets that need improvements. I found a study done by the United States Department of Agriculture that indicates only 33% of 2 to 3 year olds have what the USDA defines as a good diet. I considered this a huge problem and wondered how I would make sure my children had nutritionally balanced diets if I were a parent. I set out to do some research on this issue and find out more about it. Little progress has been made as far as improving childrens nutritional status were the results on the Healthy People 2000 report card.
Apparently, children are not receiving enough calcium or iron to begin with. The USDAs 1989-1991 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals shows that children are not following dietary guidelines. The rise in obesity among children as young as 4 and 5 years old is also an alarming fact that I stumbled across. I was unsurprised when I read that a few of the top ten causes of death in the United States are cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. I was shocked however when I continued to read information from the Childrens Nutrition Research Center homepage ( www.
aap. org/research/ ). According to the CNRC, those particuluar top ten killers are attributable to diet and exercise habits established in early childhood. I really began to feel the need to try to do something to improve these statistics. I can really understand and have empathy for working parents who really dont have time to sit down and plan out their childs diet.
I continued to surf the web and found The Food Research and Action Centers website ( www. frac. org ). The FRAC is a leading national organization working to improve public policies to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the United States.
I discovered that, according to the FRACs survey of families, hungry children suffer from two to four times as many individual health problems, such as unwanted weight loss, fatigue, headaches, irritability, inability to concentrate and frequent colds. This was not related to the families income level. Hunger had a strong effect on childrens health regardless of the family income. I also discovered that hungry children are less likely to interact with other people or explore or learn from their surroundings. This makes it difficult for them to learn naturally.
According to the Tufts University Center on Hunger, Poverty and Nutrition Policy, evidence from recent research about child nutrition shows that, in addition to having a detrimental effect on the cognitive development of children, undernutrition results in lost knowledge, brainpower, and productivity for the nation. I found it hard to believe that in the United States, one of the most powerful countries in the world, we arent even feeding our children nutritionally balanced diets. As I thought about what I could do to try to improve these statistics I thought back to how I would feed my child if I had one. I began to come up with an idea to make a special kind of menu for parents. One that would tell them what they needed to feed their child for dinner after picking them up from a child care program that provided the rest of the childs meals. I decided to try out my idea at MPCs Childrens Center.
I obtained the menus for the month of May from Cathy, the program director. I studied the menus and used the USDAs Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children to make a dinner planning helper for parents. I made a menu for the month of May to go along with the usual ones the school hands out to parents. In the calendar boxes, I put the food groups and how many servings the child needed in the rest of the day from each food group to balance their diet.
I took the research above and presented it to Cathy along with my menu. She gave her approval of my project and allowed me to put up a display in the entry way of the center advertising my project and new menu.I then made copies of the menu and put .