Dear Next President,
Let’s face it, the concept of lunch at school should be one of the best parts of a kid’s day. A brief pause in a packed day full of learning to eat and talk with friends. However, most cafeterias are lacking the primary component to a satisfying lunch- the food. The fact is, cafeteria school lunches are lacking in nutrition, as well as taste.
Sadly, according to The New York Times, the top four sources of calories in the average American’s sport diet are grain-based desserts, pizza, soda and sports drinks, and bread. To make things worse, more than 90 percent of kids don’t eat enough vegetables. As nearly half of a child’s daily calorie intake comes from school lunches, there is an obvious problem with serving them unhealthy, junk food.
One of the main reasons for this cheap unhealthy food traces back to the money distribution regarding school lunches. Surprisingly, the federal government only provides a little over $3 per student for each school lunch, and as the school districts generally require their food department (school employed companies making cafeteria lunches) to finance their electricity, accounting, and trash collection with this money, each meal can only be financed with a little over a dollar. How are the food departments expected to make a tasty meal with the proper nutrients when they only have a little over a dollar per student to work with? A clear solution would be for the federal government to fund school lunches with a little more than $3 per student. In the long run, it would be beneficial for childhood obesity, as well as how it would positively affect the mood of a child. As I certainly know eating frozen, processed, and tasteless food isn’t beneficial for my mood or well being
Food departments may argue that it would be too risky to completely switch from the junk food kids like to healthier, more fresh food, as it would cause kids to stop buying the school lunches, hurting their sales. I understand where they are coming from, but in the long run, the switch will pay off. I certainly know I would begin to eat school lunches if they provided a healthier, fresher, tastier choice.
Contrary to typical American school lunches, a typical day for a student in Normandy is to enjoy a tasty lunch of scallops, lamb skewers, and a cheese course. Although these foods may sound more costly at first, Michael Moore, acclaimed writer and documenter states in one of his films that Normandy schools “spend less per lunch than we do in our schools in the United States.” This is mainly due to how American school districts mismanage the money given to them, as well as how they are susceptible to the cheap processed food industry. Still, this isn’t the food director’s fault, as Normandy ties the money for school lunches to family income, another possible solution to America’s cafeteria problem.
Nonetheless, there is more awareness for the issue of school lunches than ever. With the help of Michelle Obama, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act required meals to be lower in fat, calories and sodium, while containing more lean protein, vegetables, and whole grains. This act appears helpful at first glance, but really only forces food directors to change food recipes at the expense of food taste. The changes of only 100% whole wheat and very low sodium in food may be a little too extreme, as it is possible to have healthy meals without 100% whole wheats and some sodium.
So, Future President, as the flaws in the school lunch system are ever apparent, don’t you think it’s time for a refreshing change for the students? I for one know that my classmates and peers would be much happier at lunch with delicious, healthy food opposed to the processed food we are currently served. Although it is impossible to stop kids from eating completely bad, it is possible to make a change in the right direction for healthy food, whether that may be by increasing federal funding to the school lunches, or by monitoring what schools do with the money more closely. If we continue to feed the future of America this way, how is our future really looking?