GOOD

An ongoing experiment going on over the past 13 years or so in Appleton, Wisconsin, a town southwest of Green Bay, could make the strongest argument for healthy school lunches yet: Since the school district began switching from processed foods to more nutritional offerings, it's experienced a precipitous drop in all sort of deleterious behaviors, from drop outs to students carrying weapons.

Among the changes undertaken by school officials, Central Alternative High School Principal LuAnn Coenen told the blog WELL Said, were pulling vending machines stocked with soda out of their facilities and dumping burgers and fries in favor of water coolers and salad bars heaped with fresh fruits and vegetables. After the changes took place, the school no longer needed police on their grounds, as incidents of drug use, vandalism, and even student mental health issues all diminished (PDF).

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In mid-March, as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (better known as the health care bill) was getting its final trim for passage. One of the provisions that was lost in the final fights would have created an Early Learning Challenge Fund, money dedicated to improving the health and educational outcomes of children by giving them access to better services between birth and age five.

Seems like a missed opportunity to have a worthwhile program. But Monica Potts, over at The American Prospect, writes that provisions in the passed health care bill will still help in giving young children some of the advantages they need to become better learners.

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