Created to provide a high-quality breakfast to children in California charter schools, Better 4 You Meals now serves the nutritional needs of students with school-based breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Better 4 You Meals provides students with nutritious foods that support healthy growth.
When a child does not receive adequate nutrition, they may fail to develop both physically and intellectually. Research has shown that children who are undernourished have a reduced mental capacity, which hinders their ability to perform in school. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2010, showed that children who are undernourished in early childhood have a 16 percent greater chance of failing at least one grade in school.
Nutritional deficiencies may correlate even more strongly with behavioral challenges, particularly in areas related to social interactions. A study led by psychologists from Harvard Medical School and the National Institutes of Health, demonstrated that children with poor nutrition in their early years showed higher levels of withdrawal and lower levels of pro-social behaviors than their peers.
Furthermore, a child with limited access to nutritional food may be more likely to develop anxiety, hyperactivity disorders, or other psychological challenges. Some studies have also linked a lack of a regular eating schedule with depression.
A poor diet may also increase a child’s risk of both short-term and long-term medical problems. Nutritional deficiency stands out as one of the most common causes of childhood obesity, largely because low-income families often have limited access to nutritious food choices. This can translate to a diet high in fat, which can ultimately lead to serious health conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure.
Better 4 You Meals
Better 4 You Meals serves schools throughout Southern California from its Los Angeles headquarters, offering healthy and affordable meals for students at public and private education institutions. A proponent of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, Better 4 You Meals also provides supper services for schools with after-school programs and activities.
After-school supper services enable schools to offer a complete day of meals to students, who can choose from hot and cold meals that include fruit or juice and milk. Services are made possible through a collaboration with the Child and Adult Care Food Program’s At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, which reimburses eligible schools and organizations for costs associated with serving nutritious meals and snacks during after-school hours.
Eligible schools include those that administer after-school programs in low-income areas, and programs must deliver educational or enrichment activities in a structured, supervised environment. Qualifying educational and enrichment activities can range from homework assistance and computer classes to recreational sports programs and arts and crafts. After-school “drop in” programs also qualify. Additionally, schools may seek reimbursement for after-school programs held on weekends and school holidays.
A California-based food service company, Better 4 You Meals provides meals and snacks to charter school students throughout the Los Angeles and San Bernardino area. In addition to its lunch, snack, and after-school-supper programs, Better 4 You Meals helps meet the nutritional needs of students through its breakfast service.
Widely acknowledged as the most important meal of the day, breakfast does more than simply provide fuel to get you through the morning. Your morning meal offers both physical and mental benefits that continue throughout your day. For school-age children, breakfast is particularly important because it helps promote learning and overall wellness.
According to studies conducted by groups such as the Food Research and Action Center, skipping breakfast impairs a child’s ability to learn. Eating breakfast is also related to improvements in memory and attention, which make it easier for children to concentrate and retrieve information. Studies also show that eating a healthy morning meal can lead to higher test scores in math, reading, and spelling.
In addition to offering cognitive benefits, breakfast can help improve student behavior and reduce issues associated with absenteeism and tardiness. Other positive effects of eating breakfast include an increase in classroom participation and an improvement in problem-solving skills among students.
Formed by education sector leaders in California, Better 4 You Meals (B4YM) is an organization that focuses on providing charter school students with nutritious foods for breakfast, lunch, and supper. Those who are interested in joining the more than 220 schools in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties that have chosen to enlist the services of Better 4 You Meals can read more about the food provided by the organization below.
1. Breakfast service – B4YM provides a full menu of hot and cold breakfast foods for consumption before school or in the classroom, depending on the needs of the charter school. Schools can also choose to participate in the universal school breakfast program, which offers all students are free breakfast independent of economic need.
2. Lunch service – B4YM believes that children can enjoy healthy food if the meals are prepared with great ingredients and taste good, which is why the organization offers a collection of unique hot lunch menu items to schools. Popular B4YM lunches include cranberry chicken salad sandwiches, chicken penne pasta with marinara and parmesan cheese, and chicken fajitas with rice and beans.
3. After school supper – Charter schools that cater to at-risk students from low-income areas may be eligible to participate in B4YM’s after school supper service. This service reimburses qualifying schools at a set rate for the healthy snacks and dinner meals that the B4YM program provides to students through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
Better 4 You Meals
For the past six years, Better 4 You Meals has been providing charter school students in Southern California with healthy meal options and special event catering. Since its creation, Better 4 You Meals (B4YM) has emphasized the importance of waste management practices and it has since expanded its eco-friendly measures.
B4YM offers its partnering schools with incentives such as food service equipment and discounts if the school implements its waste management practices, which include a recycling program and an offer versus serve (OVS) selection process. The OVS concept is a menu-planning strategy in which students can refuse two of the five food offerings while still maintaining a well-balanced lunch. For instance, a five-serving meal includes a serving of a grain, a vegetable, fruit, milk, and a meat or meat alternative, but a student can refuse the grain and fruit rather than throwing it away after finishing the meal.
In 2015, after expanding its meal offerings to include lunch and after-school suppers, B4YM began using trucks powered by clean natural gas to ship its meals. Clean natural gas has a lower carbon content and, as such, generates less greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional fuels.
A food vendor serving schools in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, Better 4 You Meals operates under the guidance of top charter school leaders and organizations. Better 4 You Meals aims to provide students with everything they need nutritionally to succeed in their studies.
A 2014 review conducted by Wilder Research, which interprets facts to create actionable outcomes for families and communities, examined several studies to determine the effects of poor nutrition on students.
It found that nutritional deficiencies in B vitamins, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids all contribute to the slowdown of children’s cognitive development, noting that diets that contain large amounts of saturated and trans fats also create a negative impact in this area.
Further, the review examined the links between student behavior and nutrition, noting that those with access to good nutrition were less likely to act aggressively and more likely to enjoy positive self-images than those who didn’t eat well.
Beyond this, the document also looked at the indirect effects of poor nutrition, noting that unhealthy lifestyles contribute to higher rates of student absence, in addition to leaving students feeling devoid of energy and unable to concentrate.
To counter such issues, schools must focus on providing meals that fulfill the nutritional requirements of their children, in addition to focusing on educational programming relating to nutrition.
Compton Unified School District
Overseen by leaders of top charter management organizations and charter schools, Better 4 You Meals (B4YM) provides meals to schools throughout San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. In February 2016, Better 4 You Meals partnered with Compton Unified School District (CUSD) to provide meals to schools in the district.
All CUSD sites receive breakfast meals from B4YM on Wednesdays and supper meals daily, with secondary schools also receiving daily lunches. Menus include a range of pre-packaged meals, such as sausage and cheese croissant sandwiches and orange chicken with brown rice, all of which come with portions of fresh fruit and vegetables.
The interim senior director of CUSD Student Nutrition, Antoinette Pearce, spoke about how B4YM was selected following an evaluation period in which students from CUSD schools tasted the meals offered by the vendor. The effects of the partnership were immediate; Whaley Middle School saw the number of students served increase to 460 from 390 during the first week it sold B4YM meals.