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School nutrition rollbacks bad for kids

The United States Department of Agriculture recently published a final rule relaxing some of the school meal nutritional standards set forth by the Healthy-Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. This rollback means that as of Feb. 11, schools will be allowed to serve fewer whole grains, low-fat flavored milks, and foods higher in sodium.

Here are the facts: A well-balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables and whole grains helps to prevent diseases like obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and many cancers. Children from low-income households are at risk for these diseases, in part due to lack of accessibility to nutritious foods, and they are also more likely to depend on schools to provide them with up to two meals plus snacks everyday. Further, school meals are extremely important for establishing nutritious dietary patterns early on — especially for kids who need it most. 

The Healthy-Hunger Free Kids Act was important because it aligned school meal standards with the latest dietary guidelines for Americans, which are research-supported recommendations developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA.

In 2015, the USDA reported that schools across the country were already 95 percent compliant with the new regulations. The School Nutrition Association stated that they support the rollbacks citing decreased participation in the school meal program as evidence to loosen up on the rules, but a USDA fact sheet from 2017 reported both increased participation and revenue post-implementation.

School meals should help kids to establish more healthful dietary patterns to prevent chronic disease because that’s common sense. 

Joanna Buscemi, assistant professor

DePaul University

 

Why I love having a mentor in middle school

As an eighth grader at Mill Creek Middle School in Dexter, I’ve learned that school is all about relationships.

Recently, Mill Creek introduced a new approach to education called Summit Learning, which is about personalized learning, where students are able to learn at their own pace and the way they learn best.

As part of Summit Learning, students at Mill Creek have dedicated time every week to meet one-on-one with a teacher who serves as their mentor. These mentor meetings are a chance to talk with a teacher about the progress you’ve made in your work, where you’re getting stuck and how to get help.

This year, we spend half an hour with our mentor three times a week. Over the course of the week, our teacher rotates having short conferences with each of her students.

My mentor suggested strategies for me to improve how I learned. For example, because we had that time together, he began to understand that I am a visual and auditory learner. He encouraged me to use a new type of note-taking called Cornell Notes.

It became a strategy I now use in all of my classes to help organize my brain as I’m taking notes and better understand the material the first time. I’ve also learned to color code my notes to help myself stay organized.

Working closely with my mentor, I’ve been able to constantly improve my habits and my grades.

Noah Enyedy

Dexter

 

Enbridge deal supercharges economy

In his recent opinion piece (“AG opinion on Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority would be a lose, lose,” Jan. 24), Evan Carter outlines why opponents of Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline update have no legal ground to stand on.

He also calls the pipeline, "a much more environmentally-friendly and safe alternative" to "freight trains and fuel tanker trucks."

He's right on both counts. What he fails to mention is that the project would also supercharge Michigan's economy.

Enbridge's update would bring a $500 million investment to Michigan -- at no cost to taxpayers. Such infrastructure investment is set to bring Michigan an average of 20,000 jobs per year.

Killing the project would cost the state dearly.

Amelia Hamilton

Traverse City

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