Dear Future President,
I am writing to you with the hopes of changing the quality of school lunches. Over the past few years, I have noticed that the amount of options available and the amount of nutritional value present in the meals has greatly decreased. This is discouraging because many kids count on the school lunch program to provide them with food that will fuel their bodies and their minds.
According to an article written by Northwestern Medicine, an estimated 30.6 million students in America eat school lunch everyday, but only 6 percent of the lunches served meet the nutritional requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And, of the 94 percent of students who do not receive a nutritional lunch, roughly 38 percent are overweight or obese. Based on a different study done by the Journal of School Health, overweight and obese children have been found to have lower IQs, a reduced attention span, and an impaired memory. Because of the lack of healthy lunch options, many students are facing serious health problems that affect their bodies and their minds. The whole purpose of school is for kids to become educated. If something as simple as a school lunch has so much impact on the success of students, then why are the lunches still lacking the nutrition that growing kids need?
Many people may believe that school lunches have gotten healthier because of the previous attempts to change the lunch program. But, in the article, “Empty-Stomach Intelligence”, Christopher Shea of the New York Times wrote that many schools were forced to produce lunches that were small and unsatisfying in order to remain within a restricted calorie limit that was set to help kids eat healthier. Instead of focusing on how many calories each student intakes, why don’t we look at what kinds of foods are being put on the lunch trays? It has been proven in studies done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that eating more nutrient-rich food is healthier than eating less junk food. Right now, schools are able to serve indirect fruit and vegetable options. For example, on the television show “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution”, it was found that ketchup can be served as a vegetable on school lunch trays. There are two things wrong with this, one, some of the main ingredients in ketchup are sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and, two, ketchup is not a natural vegetable so it does not provide kids with the adequate nutrients they need. Something filled with so much sugar and so little nutritional value should not be deemed as healthy. Real and healthy food options, such as fresh apples, oranges, carrots, and broccoli should be on all school lunch menus.
It has also been proven by various health experts and nutritionists that the ideal nutritious meal is split into four parts. Fruits and vegetables should take up half of the plate, or one quarter each, and proteins and whole grains should take up the other half, again, at one quarter each. The current school lunches do not fit this ideal. They contain less fresh fruits and vegetables and more fatty meats and low energy carbs. By switching school lunches over to the ideal meal plan that was approved by health experts, students will be eating healthier and their bodies and minds will receive the benefits.
The quality of school lunches has to change. By adding more nutritional options to school lunches and changing the way the lunches are formated, kids everywhere will learn to live a healthier lifestyle. The change in lunches will also allow students to be more focused in school and have a better chance of beating out some of the biggest health problems in America.
Mendota Heights, MN