Food restrictions in schools: helpful or harmful?

November 1, 2012
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First Lady Michelle Obama launched a campaign to end childhood obesity entitled the “Let's Move” Campaign. Four goals of the “Let's Move” Campaign's goals are, improving school food quality, making healthy foods affordable and accessible, focusing of physical education and getting parents informed about nutrition and exercise. Schools now have strict guidelines as to what they are allowed to serve at lunch and what students are allowed to bring in. The guidelines are very strict, and have resulted in negative effects and even protests against them.

Nutrition guidelines are designed to create a basis for a healthy meal and diet. Calorie restrictions on school lunches depend on the grade the child is in, for example,
elementary schools, students are limited to 650 calories, middle schools, 700 calories and high schools 850 calories. Calories cannot be over thirty percent from fat and ten percent from saturated fat. Schools are also required to serve more fruits and vegetables. Whole wheat is to be served instead of white bread. A third of Dietary Reference Intakes, system of nutrition recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, for protein, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and calories must be provided. Stricter guidelines are not very popular with students, parents and teachers.

Nutritional guidelines seem like they are beneficial but they can have negative effects. Some kids are left hungry because they are not given enough food or do not eat the food because they do not like it. Students who play sports after school burn more calories and are hungrier and have less energy to play sports. Trash in school cafeterias has increased by almost twice as much. A study showed that students in schools in Lake County, Florida throw away $75,000 worth of produce. Food being thrown away could have been used for families that are starving. If most of the food is being thrown away students are actually eating less calories than the requirements suggests. Negative effects are not worth the trouble of nutritional requirements.
"...Putting millions of growing, hungry school children on a restricted diet-from student-athletes to needy kids who may count on the school lunch as "their best, and perhaps only, meal of the day"...seems like dangerous doublespeak"

-Baylen Linnekin

Students across the country are beginning to protest school lunches. Many students have organized protests by refusing to eat the school lunches and are bringing their lunches from home. Legislatures are also against the nutritional guidelines and have created the 'No Hungry Kids Act'. This act is meant to repeal the USDA standards for school lunches. School lunches should be something students want to eat not something they want to protest against.

“The goal of the school lunch program is supposed to be feeding children, not filling the trash cans with uneaten food. The USDA’s new school lunch guidelines are a perfect example of what is wrong with government: misguided inputs, tremendous waste, and unaccomplished goals. Thanks to the Nutrition Nannies at the USDA, America’s children are going hungry at school.”
-Tim Huelskamp
Reforming school lunches has actually been less beneficial than some people want to believe. Students should not be left hungry especially as school lunch may be the only meal they have that day. Because students are forced to get fruits and vegetables they do not like, a lot of food is being thrown away. Some people do not have money for food and children are just wasting it. Student protests should not be happening over school lunches. Lunches should be something students enjoy and want to eat. Childhood obesity is a problem, but it should not be the government's job to tell every child in the United States what they can and cannot eat. Parents and doctors can help a child make good food choices. Instead healthy options should be available, but students get a choice or at least once a week serve a healthy lunch.

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