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Title:School administrators' use of the national school lunch program to address the needs of students living in poverty
Author(s):Geddis, Alicia
Director of Research:Shields, Carolyn M.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Span, Christopher M.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Shields, Carolyn M.; Harris, Violet J.; Sloat, Linda
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Ed Organization and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):National School Lunch Program
Food Insecurity
Childhood Obesity
Elementary School Administrators
Chicago Suburban Schools
Abstract:According to a 2007 U.S. Census report, 43% of children in America younger than six are classified as low income (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007). The USDA (2008a, 2009a) indicated 17.1% of school-aged children are classified as overweight; an additional 15% are at risk of becoming overweight; and approximately 17.2 million children are living in food- insecure households. Nationwide, poverty, obesity, and food insecurity are harsh realities for school-aged children. The state of Illinois is not exempt from these problems. With poverty, obesity, and food insecurity challenging the daily lives of children, schools should be empowered to meet some of these challenges. The purpose of this qualitative inquiry was to investigate how elementary school district administrators in south suburban Chicago school districts implement the National School Lunch Program and examine how they maximize the nutrition provided to children who live with poverty. This research sought to describe the lived experiences of the administrators who are given charge over the National School Lunch Program and develop meaning from these experiences. Consistent with research, this study found that school administrators who work in high poverty schools tend to prefer such settings, and conveyed a sense of purpose in their work. This study found that while they minimized their efforts, these school administrators were shining examples of transformative leaders who were taking steps to address the issues of food insecurity and obesity for children. Researchers estimate that it costs about one to three times as much to educate students from disadvantaged communities compared to more advantaged communities (Wall, 2006). It appears that the same is true for feeding children in disadvantaged communities. This study revealed that the overall food service expenses for these high poverty districts greatly exceeded the expenditures made in districts serving Illinois’ most affluent neighborhoods. The School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study III (USDA, 2007) indicated that over two-thirds of the public school lunches did not meet the USDA requirements for total fat or saturated fats. As the meals analyzed in this study consistently failed to meet the calorie and other nutrient benchmarks, it is evident that we must educate and provide solutions for those most responsible for the school menu. As the administrators in this study expressed their hopes and desires to serve their students more nutritious meals, I believe these transformative leaders have stumbled upon a solution that can address issues of obesity, food insecurity, and some of the economic conditions for the communities in which they serve.
Issue Date:2012-09-18
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Alicia M. Geddis
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-09-18
Date Deposited:2012-08

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