Emily Thorne, Dietetic Intern, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
We know that Student Nutrition Programs are great at offering nutritious food to fill hungry tummies. There are other benefits to SNP’s that are less obvious. The benefits extend not only to the students, but also parents, educators, support staff, and communities.
SNP’s allow students to socialize with others. Learning to enjoy eating with a group can impact meals at home, which can set the stage for spending more time with family. Some students may not be able to sit down for meals with others at home. For these students, SNP’s are a great opportunity to build social skills and learn about sharing food with others.
SNP’s can be a way for kids to try foods from different cultures or share foods from their culture with others. This can help students to understand and appreciate the variety of foods and traditions that come from around the world.
Our body’s cues may be hard to pay attention to when eating in front of a screen. Eating in a relaxed and positive space without screens allows students to be mindful. Mindfulness is important for noticing when we are still hungry and when we become full. Recognizing hunger cues is an important part of having positive relationships with food and eating.
Encouraging kids to fuel up with nutritious foods can benefit the learning environment. When students have full tummies, it can be easier to focus on their schoolwork. Eating well can also help reduce classroom disruptions or challenging behaviours. This contributes to an enjoyable environment for teachers, support staff, and fellow classmates.
SNP’s encourage members of the community to play an active role at local schools. This can help establish positive community-school partnerships. Interacting with volunteers allows students to feel like they are part of their community. It also reinforces that they are valued and supported by community members.
Student Nutrition Programs are about so much more than just food. Kudos to all coordinators, volunteers, and school staff involved with these programs – you improve the well-being of our students in so many ways!