As many former high school students probably do, I vividly remember the horrendous lunches they used to serve. They were barely edible, and probably extremely unhealthy. The Obama administration has been waging a war against childhood obesity, and the USDA felt the need to improve the food served to children in the school system.
Fox59.com reported that as of July 1, “junk food” will be banned in school lunch programs, vending machines and bake sales. Foods will have to meet strict criteria in order to be served, in regards to things like sugar content and caloric energy. If schools do not comply, they face potential federal funding loss and massive fines.
This is a step in the right direction, but there are many loopholes that can be exploited by the children.
The schools will be required to serve healthier food, but that does not automatically translate to the children ingesting it. I have a hard time believing that young children will embrace food choices like salad bars and baked chips. I believe this could lead to an epidemic of wasted food at schools, because the kids would rather discard their healthy food than eat it. Schools cannot control what these kids eat at home as well, so these kids can race home and continue their horrible eating habits on an entirely empty stomach. I found no confirmation that junk food will banned from being brought to school, so if it isn’t, this will not punish those who bring junk food in their lunches from home.
Along with implementing healthier food, the quality of the food needs to be improved. A strong step in increasing kids’ interest in healthy food is making the food more appetizing. Fresh vegetable dishes need to be served, instead of pre-packaged, innutritious canned vegetables. Vegetables can, believe it or not, taste good. Kids should be able to recognize what they are eating, instead of questioning what is inside. I remember being served dishes in the public school system that looked like something they scooped out of the nearby dumpster.
Drinks with high sugar content will be replaced by low-calorie substitutes, which, contrary to popular belief, are quite awful for your health. They contain chemicals that natural sweeteners do not, and according to an article published by health.harvard.edu, actually increase your risk of metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.
Quality seems to be lost in discussing the improvement of school lunches. Everyone discusses the fact that they need to be healthier, but their definition of healthy does not improve the quality of the food being served. Prison food should not be comparable to the lunches we serve children at schools. Complete, nutritional, appetizing meals need to be served because a complete meal will greatly improve moral and academic performance.
Children cannot concentrate with an empty stomach, or when they are improperly nourished. The vegetables and fruit being served in today’s cafeterias can barely hold the title of a nutritious food, whether it is because the broccoli is slathered in gelatinous cheese or the peaches are drowning in syrup thick enough to choke on.
This is a small step in improving children’s health, but more needs to be done.
Chris Chipman is a junior English major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding his column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.