Study Finds Afterschool Programs Help Promote Healthy Eating
March 10, 2015
Afterschool Alliance report highlights the role of afterschool programs play in a child’s life.
Going back to my grammar school days, I recall staying in afterschool programs with one of my brothers because our school days ended at 2:30 pm and our mom worked across the street until 4:30, sometimes 5. Aside from the obvious getting homework done, we had time to socialize and communicate with classmates. Our parents would either pack us some snacks or we would save one or two from lunchtime. One thing is for sure, whoever was watching us always made sure we kept busy and ate something. Afterschool programs are still around today and, according to a special report from Afterschool Alliance, parents have expectations for these programs. The study was conducted by Shugoll Research with responses from 300,000 U.S. households, 543 of which came from Florida.
More than 70% of Florida parents said their child’s afterschool program provides beverages, snacks, and/or meals for the children in the programs. In addition, 78% of them are satisfied that the food being served is healthy.
Florida Parents Praise Physical Activities Along with healthy meals, Florida afterschool programs provide children with physical activities. “…A strong majority of parents (83%) agree that afterschool programs should offer opportunities for physical activity, and 85% of Florida parents with a child in an afterschool program report that the program does just that,” as noted in the report. “The great majority of parents approve of what programs are providing, with 76% of parents in the state saying they are satisfied with the amount of physical activity offered and 75% with the variety of that physical activity.”
Not all parents take advantage of these programs, but those that do have noticed an improvement in their child’s health habits. For Jodi Grant, Afterschool Alliance Executive Director, this new data helps prove her point that afterschool programs have been proven to be “a weapon in the battle against childhood obesity and physical activity.”
She added: “We’ve known for a long time that afterschool, before-school and summer programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help working parents. These new data make clear that they also do a tremendous amount to help keep kids healthy, now and for the future. The healthy habits afterschool programs help instill can last a lifetime.”
In Florida, these programs improve prospects forstudents, and strengthen families, schools and communities in myriad ways, noted Joe Davis, Executive Director of Florida Afterschool Network. “These programs have a lasting positive impact on children’s health by providing nutritious snacks and meals, and opportunities for physical activity. Every day, they teach students about nutrition and fitness and many will carry those healthy habits with them for the rest of their lives.”
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