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.
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.
Better 4 You Meals is a food vendor that serves Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. Leaders from top charter schools and charter management organizations created Better 4 You Meals to meet the nourishment needs of children in Southern California.
According to the California Association of Food Banks, more than 12 percent of California residents lack access to nutritious food in spite of the fact that more than half of the produce in the United States is grown in California. Without consistent access to fruits and vegetables, students’ scholastic performance will be impacted. More than two million children are facing this issue of food insecurity in California.
A diet lacking fruits and vegetables can lead to obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. A 2016 report, The State of Obesity, asserted that, as of 2011, more than 15 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 in California were obese. Additionally, many students from low-income families experience undernourishment during summer vacation because they no longer receive the meals provided at school.
Better 4 You Meals was established by charter school leaders in California in response to the lack of breakfast meal services being provided to low-income students in the state. The company serves 70,000 meals per day to over 220 schools in San Bernardino and Los Angeles. Better 4 You Meals uses a fleet of delivery vehicles that are fueled by clean natural gas (CNG), which has a number of benefits over traditional vehicle fuels.
1. Vehicle operators can save as much as 50 percent on their fuel bills by switching to CNG vehicles when compared to diesel and petroleum.
2. CNG vehicles are better for the environment, contributing 25 percent less carbon dioxide than comparable diesel-fueled vehicles, in addition to 50 percent fewer nitrogen oxides.
3. Supplies of CNG are abundant in comparison to oil, with 98 percent of the natural gas used in the United States produced in North America. This results in lower costs for consumers, in addition to contributing more directly to the country’s economy.