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Article Summary and Response
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Article Summary and Response
The article “Sugar in School Breakfasts: A School District’s Perspective” aims to provide
Houston’s Independent School District (ISD) Nutrition Services' perspective regarding sugar in
breakfast (Lengyel et al., 2015). Moreover, the source presents the difficulties and interventions
undertaken to offer learners with healthy breakfasts. By elaborating on Houston’s ISD situation,
the article aims to give an insight into the circumstances facing similar organizations across the
United States (U.S.). According to the source, the main reason behind high sugar content in
breakfast is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) additional breakfast requirements, the
Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA), which obliges schools to provide one cup of milk, an
ounce of whole grain, and a cup of fruit, daily (Lengyel et al., 2015). The article also explains
that high sugar content is present in breakfast due to breakfast service calculations and budgetary
constraints caused by the new breakfast regulations.
The authors explain that HHFKA guidelines cause high sugar in breakfast since these
regulations lead to meals that provide a higher percentage of calories from carbohydrates.
According to the source, carbohydrates contain high amounts of sugars. On this matter, the
article explains that the minimum and maximum calories for fifth graders should range between
350 and 500 calories (Lengyel et al., 2015). It further states that health professionals recommend
that 45 percent of these calories come from carbohydrates, which is not the case since milk,
whole grain, and fruits are mainly carbohydrate-based calorie providers.
Additionally, the article explains that sugar is high in breakfast since schools replace fruit
servings with dried fruit or juice due to budgetary constraints, fruit inaccessibility, and school
limitations. The reason for this is that USDA’s move of adding the fruit serving from half a cup
to a full cup creates financial constraints, for the budget is at less than a dollar per breakfast.
According to the source, fresh fruits cost $0.20 per half a cup; thus, serving a full cup will
consume half of the budget allocation. The article also explains that Houston's ISD faces the
challenge of fruit inaccessibility due to environmental issues and drought. Lastly, schools limit
the variety of fruit servings by refusing some fruits such as oranges to avoid a messy
environment. Therefore, the source explains that budgetary constraints, food inaccessibility, and
school limitations on offering some fruits influence schools' food organizations to provide dried
fruits or juices, which contain higher amounts of added sugar caused due to preservatives
(Lengyel et al., 2015). For these reasons, the article explains that it is difficult to reduce sugar
content in breakfast since regulations force schools to settle for alternative fruit options that
contain added sugar, such as dried fruit and sugar.
The source also explains that the perception of high sugar in breakfast arises due to
calculations based on breakfast service. The article states that calculating students' sugar intake
based on the foods offered during breakfast does not accurately show the actual amount of sugar
consumed, especially during “offer vs. serve” services. On the contrary, this is possible for the
straight serve method, which is not popular, for it leads to food wastage and more sugar intake
(Lengyel et al., 2015). From this understanding, the source's main argument is that high sugar
content in school breakfast is primarily a policy issue due to HHFKA laws.
Apart from this argument, another significant point in the article is that it is challenging
to reduce sugar content in breakfast since a lack of label differentiation makes it hard for food
service organizations to identify and reduce the use of food items with high-added sugar. It
explains that labels only state "sugar," which includes added and natural sugars (Lengyel et al.,
2015). Lastly, the authors highlight the interventions taken by Houston’s ISB to provide students
with well-balanced, healthy breakfasts despite the limitations set by HHFKA.
The undertaken efforts are offering skim milk, serving whole-grain items with lower
sugar, requesting manufacturers to remove excessive additives like Mono Sodium Glutamate,
and producing semi-homemade, in-house food items. The source further explains that the
organization has built associations with vendors and participates in programs such as Farm-to-
School, which aim to increase local production. The purpose of this move is to increase fresh
fruits on the menu. Additionally, the article explains that the organization replaces grain products
with meat or meat alternates when possible to reduce sugar consumption (Lengyel et al., 2015).
It also undertakes taste tests and plate waste analysis to understand the actual sugar intake and
accepted food items.
With this understanding, I agree that high sugar content in breakfast is a policy issue. If
USDA did not increase the breakfast requirements for fruit and milk to a full cup from the half
cup offered earlier, there would be no budgetary constraints, the need to provide fruits, or
incorrect sugar calculations of breakfast service. Given that the budget of one breakfast is less
than a dollar, the article explains, “…average most fresh fruit items cost $0.20 for ½ cup, then
because 1 cup of fresh fruits must be offered at breakfast, fruit alone can contribute to 50% or
more of the total food cost for the entire breakfast meal” (Lengyel et al., 2015, p8). If the
regulations had remained at half a cup, there would be no need for food service organizations to
use juice or dried fruit as an alternative. Although such a regulation would mean that breakfast
offers small calories, HHFKA should ensure compliance with calorie amount by addressing the
required calorie amount for each meal and the maximum sugar amount for each food item. Such
a policy would work since it gives foodservice organizations the liberty to include other food
items, which grants these institutions the power to select foods with low sugar content.
Lengyel, M. S., Jennifer, G., Cramer, R. D. N., LD, N., Oceguera, M. S., & Pigao MA, L.
(2015). Sugar In School Breakfasts: A School District's Perspective.HJournal of Applied
Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk,H6(2), 7.
Reflection Questions
What ideas originally came to mind when you first read through the article? Did your
initial response to the article change after reading it for a second time? (3-4 sentences)
When I first read the article, I initially understood the text as a third-party written
document since I thought the authors were outside researchers attempting to understand activities
within Houston's ISD. Moreover, I also found the article to focus more on shifting the blame
from foodservice organizations since the content addresses flaws in Federal regulations and
ineffective food labels. However, after reading it a second time, these comprehensions changed. I
noticed that the authors associated with the organization, which means that the article was a first-
party written document. Moreover, reading the second time helped me focus on the facts rather
than side-taking. This enhanced my comprehension of the text since the authors do not clearly
state the primary argument.
How does paying attention to the way you respond to a source help you formulate your
stance on a topic? (2-3 sentences)
Paying attention to how I respond to a source has helped me understand the importance
of reading a text several times. I have noticed that I am prone to logical flaws after the first
reading. Therefore, paying attention to my response helps me formulate my stance on a topic
since it has helped me understand how I think, which means that I need to engage with a topic
more than once to have a clear and logical stance.
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