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Have you ever went to school completely starving and the food looks like it’s been sitting there for hours? The generic school lunch is that greasy hard pizza, those mystery meat burgers or “chicken” sandwiches, nachos with cheese that doesn’t even look or taste like cheese. And the school systems still have students paying for their lunches, and some kids can’t even afford to get lunch because they don’t have enough money for lunch everyday or their parents don’t have the money to provide food at home. If we don’t change this now how is it going to look in 10-15 years? Our Public School lunches need to be healthier and free!
Over the years our Public School systems have bettered the food that they serve to our students but it still doesn’t fit the standards we should have it at. In 2009, USA Today had an investigation and found that meat served in U.S. schools wouldn’t meet the quality or safety standards of fast-food restaurants. And according to the book Lunch Lessons, almost half the vegetables eaten by most children aged 2 to 19 in the U.S. were french fries. Some of the foods that school systems can implement into their menus are high-fiber foods, more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and include low-fat dairy products. Which also fills children up more and keeps them full for longer periods.With obesity being more of an issue in the United States these healthier food choices prevent unwanted weight gain and help prevent chronic health conditions. The nutritional deficiencies in zinc, B vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and proteins have been shown to affect the mental development of children, and there is also evidence to suggest that diets with high amounts of trans and saturated fats can have a very negative impact on cognition. This can harm the ability of students to learn at a pace necessary for school success. With better food and the help of faculty, students can become more active in school which can lead to a decrease in obesity rates, which could drop slowly or dramatically. A program that schools can implement that increase physical activity during the school day which can help make a difference. In a study involving overweight middle-school kids, researchers at the University of Wisconsin assigned the kids to either lifestyle-focused, fitness-oriented, or standard gym classes for 9 months. At the end of the program, those in the fitness-oriented class lost more body fat and gained more cardiovascular fitness and a greater improvement in their fasting insulin levels than kids in the other groups did.
Speaking upon obesity, obesity is something very severe in the United States. Obesity prevalence was 13.9% among 2- to 5-year-olds, 18.4% among 6- to 11-year-olds, and 20.6% among 12- to 19-year-olds. 14.8% of High School students had obesity, and 15.6% were overweight according to data from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. The obesity rate has increased strikingly, up from 10.6% in 1999. (www.stateofobesity.org) Schools are also in a unique position to provide students with opportunities to learn about and practice healthy eating behaviors. But in a less financially abundant school system, these ideas and choices aren’t available.
School breakfast and lunch can cost up to seven dollars a day, which is roughly two hundred and ten dollars a month. Some families can’t afford that every month for which they may even have multiple children. The cost of producing a school meal differs from one community to the next due to regional variations in food, labor and fuel costs, and local variations in school equipment, etc. (www.schoolnutrition.org) In 2018, the federal poverty level was $25,750 for a family of four, and with that information the family arrangement is unknown, if its a mother with 3 children she’s not going to be able to afford all the necessities for school and be able to pay for their lunches every day even with reduced lunches. More than 11 million children in the United States live in ‘food insecure’ homes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). That means those families don’t have enough food for every family member to lead a healthy life. This doesn’t always mean that there is nothing to eat. But it can mean that children get smaller portions than they need, or parents aren’t able to afford nutritious foods.
There are federally subsidized free or reduced-price meal plans for students. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) says that nearly 100,000 schools and educational institutions provide lunch to 30 million students a day. Of those, the program estimates that as many as 20 million students receive lunch for free, 2 million pay a reduced price of 40 cents roughly, and 8 million pay the full price. Now with that information in your head, think about how many students that have parents that don’t think about them or don’t care enough to sign their child up for those benefits. Keep in mind that school lunch debt has risen steeply in a few school districts across the country, seemingly coinciding with the passage of recent laws that ban “lunch shaming.” The term refers to an uncomfortable range of practices that schools have traditionally used to punish students for unpaid lunch debt, from serving cold sandwiches in place of a hot meal, to even denying them a meal entirely and these children’s ages can range from 5 through 19. Some of those children don’t even have food at home to eat so these children could just be starving and we wouldn’t even know, but if school lunch was free then maybe we could have an end to poverty induced children can eat almost eat on a day to day basis.
Children are our future and by now its a fact that mental and behavioral performance can be traced back to our nutrition intake and eating habits. School lunches had reached a point where they were not providing enough nutrients students needed to be successful in their health all around. With millions of students relying on school lunches as their primary meal for the day it has such a huge impact on the lives of our future, but money runs the world and students can’t completely provide for themselves that’s a given but if our government can help with students food financial troubles by eliminating them. Just think about all the happy faces because they have great food to look forward to without trying to figure out how they are going to get it.
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