School lunches have been the brunt of many a joke; pizza that tastes like cardboard, rubbery pasta…but with the introduction of processed foods, school meals went from comically disgusting to downright unhealthy.
The Institute of Medicine investigated the nutritional value of the foods the government provides for our children to eat each day; the news isn’t pretty.
Across the board, our children are receiving less than 20% of the recommended amounts of dark green and orange vegetables, and less than 40% the recommended value of all vegetables (and that is counting French fries and potato chips). I really don’t think that French Fries and potato chips should have even been counted; do you? Who knows how low the numbers would be if those two unhealthy items weren’t counted?
When I was in high school, many of us munched on tater tots and potato chip; they were the only edible foods available. If this type of “lunch” was counted in the healthy fruits and vegetables category, then these results are disturbingly inaccurate.
The Denver Post stated the following:
But schools are doing some things right. The report noted that kids who participated in school breakfast programs had lower body mass index, on average, than those who didn’t.
I disagree; this doesn’t mean that the schools are doing something right. It just further proves that eating breakfast kick starts your metabolism for the day. How can they say that anything is good about the school meal plan?
They are starting to make changes to the school lunch program in several states across the country. One of the biggest changes is the integration of locally grown produce into the menu. An attempt to instruct the school “lunch ladies” in healthier cooking from scratch with natural ingredients is sweeping the nation.
Hopefully soon, every school in the US will offer healthy and nutritious meals to its students. As of 2009, 62.5% of students received free or reduced price meals at school; many believe that this means that the healthiest meals these children will get are from the school. I strongly disagree with this statement; most of the middle class and the rich feed their children fast food more often than not, which is extremely unhealthy.
I also firmly believe that, as with most things, learning begins at home. If a child’s parents are pushing unhealthy snacks and meals on their children, then those children will choose unhealthy snacks and meals no matter what they are offered. We need to educate parents on healthy food choices, so families change their diets. This way, once the school systems are offering healthier meals, the children will willingly eat them.