Are School Lunches Healthy?
To quote Whitney Houston, “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way, show them all the beauty they possess inside.” In order for children to have a bright and happy future, what they should possess inside is healthy, nutritious food. It is, however, very distressing to know what is actually being fed to our kids in school. For most kids, school lunches are the only place where they may even eat fruits or vegetables outside of their homes, which is why the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2014 was so important. Not officially enacted until 2012, this act moved the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to update school lunch and snack food standards of nutrition, of which have not been updated for at least 30 years. Since this has been in effect, 86% of schools nationwide have been serving healthier options such as fruits and vegetables.
Depending on which state you live in has a lot of impact on how healthy your child eats. For instance, a child eating a school lunch in California is going to receive better quality choices of food than a child would in a southern state such as Mississippi. But just because kids are being served more options for fruits and veggies does not meet the optimal standard for what our children truly deserve. The better question is where is the food my child consuming coming from? How was this food raised and cultivated? Is their milk being treated with growth hormones and steroids?
If your school is not sourcing its food from either a local or organic farm, then it is sourcing conventionally grown USDA foods. The term “conventional” can mean a lot of things. First off, the fruits and veggies your child is eating could have been heavily sprayed and treated with harsh chemicals. It is important to note that whenever these chemicals are being sprayed onto crops, the people spraying them have to wear hazmat suits. Secondly, if the crops are not sprayed with chemicals, then the very seed has been genetically modified to withstand either insects or inclement weather conditions. Organic farming use neither one of these methods, preferring to grow crops without chemicals and genetically modified ingredients, just as mother nature intended.
However, it is not up to schools and the government to see that your kids are getting the best foods available to them. It is ultimately up to parents to monitor what their kids are eating at home and at school. Get involved with your school, and effect change by spreading concern to other parents. Kids obtain half of their caloric intake at school, and since your child has neither a voice or a choice in these matters, speak up for nutrition’s sake.