May 27, 2011

Healthy school food improves student performance - Duh...

We've already seen some evidence to suggest that better school food makes kids smarter, but with Jamie Oliver's healthy school lunch program threatened by budget cuts, and similar healthy school food initiatives facing money problems in America too, the timing of this latest piece of research couldn't be more fortuitous. You see it seems that what we feed our children has an impact on how well they perform in school.  

The BBC reports that researchers from the University of West England (UWE) have been analyzing performance in 48 schools before and after they joined an innovative healthy eating program. Measuring school ratings by the Government's inspection body Ofsted, researchers found that a third (36.2%) were judged outstanding by Ofsted, compared with 17.3% before they joined a program called the Food For Life Partnership (FFLP).

Funded through National Lottery money, the FFLP encourages students and teachers to grow, cook and eat good, fresh and sustainably grown food. In addition to improving school performance, the researchers from UWE also found that parents from participating schools reported an increased intake of fruits and vegetables at home too.

Of course it's hard to say whether improved student performance stems from better nutrition, or from the hands-on learning experience of growing, and learning about, real quality food. And to some extent the answer does not matter. It stands to reason that giving our children healthy food and opportunities to learn through gardening is going to make for healthier, happier and smarter kids. But it sure is good to see some evidence to back this up.

Who'd have thought it? - Hugger