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June-July 2006

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Families Today
June/July 2006

You know that feeding a child means much more than interacting with only one person. You also work with the child’s family, from filling out applications for reduced-price or free meals, arranging payment, answering questions about the child nutrition program and passing on nutrition education. Indeed, the family environment can make or break your efforts to help children learn healthy habits.

So how can you reach families better? That’s the question School Foodservice & Nutrition explores in this month’s issue. It’s the 21st century, and according to "Meet the Family," it’s time to forget the old-fashioned, family tree. Today, a family can develop from many different types of living arrangements. Adults may or may not be married. Children may or may not be related to the adults with whom they are living. But the household, according to anthropologists and sociologists, can be defined as a family when its function is to further the growth and development of children. By this definition, there are some 32 million families in the United States; this is a little less than one-third of all U.S. households. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau changed its current population report title from "households and families" to "families and living arrangements," to better reflect its data. To gain understanding of families in your community, take a look at some of the statistics about many of today’s common family arrangements.

When you look at modern family arrangements, do you feel disheartened or encouraged? Have families improved over the past 60 years or become worse? This year, SNA celebrates the 60th anniversary of school meals. Just as the school nutrition profession has changed over the decades, families have changed. Many look to the 1950s fondly as a time of the idyllic family life, with a breadwinning father, homemaking wife, 2.5 kids and a picket fence. It was a time when nothing could go wrong. But that nostalgic picture isn’t accurate, as "Happy Days?" shows.

Now that you have an idea of common family arrangements, how can you accommodate their unique needs? Many parents find themselves overwhelmed by the structure and bureaucracy of the school system. Others are stymied by employment commitments that effectively shut them out of regular interaction with teachers and staff. For some, language poses a barrier; others admit to being intimidated by teachers and administrators. These are all factors that can prevent parent participation in children's education. In "The Family Factor," learn how to get—and keep—parents involved in your program.

Next, take a look at how family has an impact on childhood obesity. When it comes to the weight troubles of today’s children, the experts agree on two facts. First, children in the United States, like their peers around the world, increasingly are overweight. Second, their families have a lot to do with this growing problem. Does the fit of your jeans depend on the fit of your genes? Are diet and health outcomes based on inherited factors or learned behaviors? According to "Nature and Nurture," it may be a little bit of both.

And how about your own family? "Branching Out" reveals ways to create stronger connections--and indelible memories--among all members of your family tree. This article offers ideas for a wide range of activities--from easy, low/no-cost endeavors to elaborate excursions--that can help all generations enjoy some good, old-fashioned family time together. Use these suggestions to make memories with your own family or share them with parents in your community through school newsletters, websites or menus. And don't forget to seize opportunities to incorporate intergenerational themes into cafeteria promotions!

Also in this issue of the magazine, "A Deadline Looms Large" explores various local school wellness policies across the country. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 requires policies to be completed in July. Is your district ready? Gain commiseration and inspiration from districts in California, Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Virginia. It’s another fantastic summer edition of School Foodservice & Nutrition!

June July CoverMeet the Family lock
It’s time to move past Norman Rockwell-esque stereotypes about family structures. The students and parents in your community represent a wide variety of living arrangements.

Promote the Vote! lock
Catch up with the five candidates in the National School Lunch Week “Vote for School Lunch” election, as they hit the campaign trail and debate the plate.

Strangers in a Welcoming Land lock
A trip to China fascinates and inspires a delegation of school nutrition professionals. They invite you to share some highlights of their international adventure. 

The Family Factor lock
It’s simple math: Parents+ Schools = Student Achievement.  What variables will improve the odds for greater success?

A Deadline Looms Large lock
Local school wellness policies are due to be completed in July. Is your district ready? To help benchmark your progress, compare notes with the experiences of five school nutrition Directors.

Branching Out lock
Create stronger connections—and indelible memories—among all members of your family tree.

Happy Days? lock
Compared to today, the post-WWII era was an idyllic time—or was it? Learn more about how the American family has changed over the last 60 years.

 


 
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