2008: Slice of pizza. Bag of goldfish. Famous Amos cookies. Well balanced lunch, right? I know that I would have chosen this lunch over a wilted salad any day in high school. 2012: Side salad (no telling if it’s less wilted though…), chicken breast, peaches, and plain old milk (the sweetened stuff is bad for you, you know). This meal sounds passable to me, but what happens if the chicken’s a little too dry and the milk a bit too bland? Then you’re probably going to consume about 1/3 the calories, with the other 2/3 spilling down the side of the trash can.
Michelle Obama’s “Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act” is certainly rooted in good intentions. America’s youths are becoming more and more obese, and this act should be, in theory, an effective way to restrict children’s diets. What this act fails to do is consider the root of the problem of childhood obesity: the pantry at home.
Especially after seeing this video and reading numerous articles online, I have to question whether the act fully takes the “Hunger Free” portion of the title seriously. The act put a limit on the amount of calories that a student can consume in 1 day’s lunch (850 for high schoolers). Schools allow students to get extra vegetables at the cafeteria line, but say no to students seeking more grains or protein.
To all the athletes or generally healthy and hungry people out there – think back to your high school days. As a student athlete all 3 seasons of school, I know that I would not have been able to perform to my full potential had this act been enacted while I was in high school. Imagine this: it’s 2:00 and you have a 400 meter repeat workout at 3:00 (or football scrimmage, or fitness test, you get the idea). You know you need fuel and have the option of extra green beans at lunch (2012) or a bagel (2008). I know that I would choose the starch because it provides the immediate energy necessary for the upcoming outlay of calories.
As the daughter of a dietician and an athlete, I find this act very controversial, but I cannot say with 100% certainty where I stand in the debate. On one hand, something has to be done about childhood obesity. But I wonder if the program would be more effective if it provided mandatory nutritional education to parents (maybe at parent-teacher night?) and coupons for healthier food options for low-income families. In terms of students whose nutritional needs are not met by the new school lunches, should they be allowed to consume more at lunch? Should they just take extra snacks to school? How can we keep the system from collapsing and make sure that the habits stick while the students are at home too? Don’t you think that “starving” students throughout the school day will lead to unhealthy binges once they arrive at home?
So many questions! Please feel free to weigh in or ask some of your own!
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