Are school lunches that bad?
The topic of school lunch is arguably one of the most controversial subjects in public schools. It seems to be one of California’s top priorities, as proven by the many attempts to implement school lunch programs across the most populous state. For example, right before the start of the 2022-2023 school year, the state’s Department of Education implemented the Universal Meals program, one that offers free lunch meals to all public school students no matter their financial situation. This greatly increased the accessibility of lunches for students, a huge step towards solving this longtime issue.
Although, some notable concerns have been circulating among the students: how good is the quality of these free lunches? Are they nutritious enough to support a healthy lifestyle, and are they appetizing enough for kids to actually enjoy them? Many videos of students showing off their grotesque school meals are going viral and circulating around the Internet every day, but just how accurate are they?
Here is the truth about these public school lunches, including a first-hand account of my schoolmate who eats school lunches at my own school. To start, school lunches are definitely filled with an abundance of nutrients. In fact, it is against the law to go over a certain number of calories in each meal, as well as to leave out fruits and vegetables from the daily meals, according to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act passed in 2010.
Nevertheless, that does not necessarily mean that these lunches are healthy enough for consumption by young students. Most of the food made in school cafeterias could be using processed ingredients, food dye, and other items that are not particularly good for the human body which can directly impact a student’s learning capability. They can affect attention span, energy level, and even behavior that can lead to one’s success or failure when it comes to schoolwork, tests, and overall student performance, which is why it is so important that schools value their nutrition.
To confirm these findings, I conducted a short interview with a student at my high school who happens to eat the free school lunch offered just about every day. He claimed that, on most days, the food is actually decent, rating it a 6 out of 10. They are definitely not culinary masterpieces, but they taste good enough to be somewhat enjoyable. The student also noted that the food is able to keep him going for the last few hours of his day. He participates in extracurricular activities after each school day, and even with all of the physical demands they present him with, he still feels energized and fresh. This confirms that the nutrition included in school lunches is significantly more effective and beneficial to one’s health than was initially assumed. However, the student noted that the most concerning problems with the lunches were their overall appearance, and lack of variety that can tank one’s appetite and mood for the rest of the day.
Public school meals’ nutrition values and healthiness may not necessarily be the problem. It seems that most lunches are suitable for students. However, the true issue resides in the meal’s visual appeal and variety. If the food does not look good or the menu is highly repetitive, the students will not be as inclined to eat as they should.
I think that public schools should offer more variety in the menu, and make the food look and taste more appetizing while maintaining the same amount of nutrients and health benefits. Only then will America’s school lunch truly meet the needs of the students. Sources: deseret.com, draxe.com
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