CTRD 6710/6716 Summer 2013

What Matters More in School Lunches?



School lunches should be healthy. Many under privileged children are not able to get the nutrition that they need at home. School lunches have the capability to provide well-rounded meals that some students might desperately need. There is also a growing problem of obesity in children. This leads to children that are unhealthy. The typical lunches of pizza and chicken nuggets only add to this problem. School lunches might be the best resource to combat these issues by providing healthy, well-rounded meals.


Kristan Abney

The article I found regarding the state of school lunches was written in January of 2013, and expresses the opinions of a subset of the current student population.  The article offers suggestions to improve school lunches, made by students; the students stated that although they know they need to incorporate vegetables into their diet, that they have a hard time eating raw vegetables, which are often the only vegetables offered at their school.  In the place of raw vegetables, the students suggest having vegetables incorporated into the main dishes the lunch room serves.  The students, however, don’t mention the specifics of how they would like this accomplished, but one way to accomplish this would be by borrowing an idea from a current popular food trend of “hiding” vegetables in food.  For instance, said food craze includes hiding vegetables in dishes so that one can’t even see them, much less taste them, yet can still receive the nutrients from them.  Case in point, comic Jerry Seinfeld’s wife, Jessica, has recently written a successful cookbook, titled Deceptively Delicious,in which she includes recipes for popular dishes such as macaroni and cheese in which she "hides" pureed cauliflower and butternut squash.  I think this technique would work well for school age children.  I argue the position that school lunches should both taste good and be good for you.  However, if I must take a stance on one side of the argument, then I choose the stance that schools should offer lunches that taste good YET implement the "hiding" technique mentioned above. 

Ashley Eakes
Editors: Dawn Butler and Misty Thomas

         According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010 more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Obesity is associated with many health risks such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. One explanation for the ever-increasing rates of childhood obesity is a poor diet. Therefore, I advocate for healthy school lunches. Although healthy lunches may not be as tasty as traditional American diet foods, they provide the fuel our bodies need to perform their best. Many students do not understand the importance of eating right, and many parents do not teach children the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Students need to understand how to properly feed their bodies. They need to understand portion sizes and a balanced diet. Schools have the opportunity to not only offer healthy lunches, but to teach students healthy habits.  Schools can do this is by planting a school garden. School gardens allow students to learn where their food comes from. This will most likely make students more interested in eating healthy foods because they had a part in growing them. Finally, many students do not have the opportunity to eat a balanced meal at home because their parents cannot afford it. Students should be presented with healthy lunch options to ensure that they get the necessary vitamins and minerals our bodies crave. Students should be fed a meal that will keep them full and not make them hungry an hour or two after eating.


Kasey Norton

In response to this article, the problem with our schools is not the actual food that is being offered, it is the way the students are allowed to consume it.  Because most schools are obligated to follow federal regulations on the amount of fats, protein, and sugars meals must have, the schools actually do a good job of offering balanced meals.  The problem is most students are not forced to consume these balanced meals, instead they are allowed to select these items a la carte, most often resulting in them choosing those items that are unhealthy.  One suggestion that may help improve this flaw would be to have each student consume a serving of tasty fruits and vegetables before being allowed these preferred but unhealthy favorites.  


Misty Thomas

Editors: Dr. Bruce, Ashley Eakes

I believe school lunches should focus on being healthy.  In my opinion, there are endless reasons for a positive move toward healthy school lunches.  I will state a few that I believe to be important.  According to the CDC, in 2001 the percent of obese people was less than 24 in majority of the states but in 2010 there were very few states that did not have more than 25 percent of its population considered obese.  The reasons for this increase were not stated but I would estimate it is due to an increase in busy and sedentary lifestyles that push individuals to faster and unhealthy choices in eating.  By serving unhealthy lunches in schools, school systems are doing a disservice to students.  The entire point of a school is to educate.  Why does this have to exclude lunch?  Students can learn which foods are healthy and carry that beyond the four walls of a school.  Not only do I think it is important to serve healthy lunches, but a class or school-wide workshop explaining why the school serves healthy lunches, in respect to nutrition, exercise, and maintaining personal health, should be included.  A student cannot be expected to understand the importance of eating a healthy lunch that may compromise on taste sometimes without being taught the reasons behind the lunch.  Learning these reasons can provide a stepping stone to a healthier lifestyle beyond the cafeteria. 


Anna Taylor

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

Authorities Out to Lunch on School Lunches

No one can disagree that school cafeterias should offer healthy food to students. However, how to promote healthy eating is unclear. Dietitians do not have a consistent, verifiable message on what we should eat. While some experts recommend using a calorie index to limit consumption, such an index would have to be conditional on activity level, and high school students tend to be much more active, burning many more calories than sedentary adults.

Part of the problem in prescribing nutrition in school lunches is wastage. What is moved from the lunch line to the trashcan provides no nutrition to students. Dieticians can prescribe cookies with fiber made from whole-wheat flour, but they can't make teens eat them.  Healthy food must be tasty enough to get eaten. Students are consumers in a free society, and within the limits of good health, their choices should be honored.

Bruce Murray

Editors: Kasey Norton and Jordan Smith

School lunches have been a long lived debate among teachers, students, parents, government, etc.  The question is should school lunches be healthy or taste good? Considering the fact that I work in a Title I school where many students receive their only meals of the day at school, I find it vitally important that there is nutritional value in the meals.  It is fabulous things that struggling families are able to ensure their children are getting meals.  However, are the students in the schools getting lunches that have any nutritional value at all?  I believe that there is a fine line in offering meals that tastes good and/or have nutritional value for the student.  Where I work, students are offered only baked goods.  Additionally, students must have each of the food groups on their plate.  For example, a meat, vegetable, fruit, etc.  What’s more, the cafeteria offers meals at a certain caloric level.  All in all, the students receive a good deal of nutrition in the meals.  I believe that having this type of food available for students allows students to learn more healthy habits, in turn combating the weight struggles that Americans face.

Lindsay Sims

Should Schools Offer Lunches That Are Good For You or Lunches That Taste Good?

As a mother of three boys, I feel that the school lunches need more calories and taste better.  There should be a compromise.  I understand the Nation has increasingly become overweight.  My children are not overweight and are athletes at the school.  It is impossible for them to perform to the best of their ability without proper amounts of food.  They arrive at school at 7:15 am and sometimes return home around 7:30 to 9:00 pm.  When they do not like or do not get enough of their lunch they come home with headaches and just don’t feel well.

When I was given this assignment I asked my children for their opinions on school lunches.  The main complaint was that there was not enough food.  The second was the taste.  I do not feel that our schools are being allowed to take care of our children. 

I am a substitute at a high school and it amazes me how much food is wasted.  Children will get their trays maybe eat one item and then discard the rest.  Another trend that is emerging is parents bringing fast food to the office for their children to eat at lunch.  I feel that our government needs to readdress these issues and come up with a healthy and more satisfying meal.    


Michelle Johnson

Dawn Butler, Editor

One initiative I have seen near my home in Florida is a plantation of community gardens put together by students and their families.  Families work in very large gardens and then share their yield with the poor.   I wonder if it is possible to connect the farm to the school cafeteria.  Is it possible for the students to be involved in the growing process as part of science classes as well?   Mrs. Obama seems to have done this as part of her initiative, and I wonder if this could not be expanded to bigger and better connections with our schools.  When students grow the food, they have a special interest and may be more interested in eating those vegetables.

Dawn Butler
Editors: Ashley Eakes and Misty Thomas

Providing a healthy lunch is the best opportunity to feed students, especially those in poverty, a meal that is good for them, considering that some of them will not get one at home.  It should be quality over quantity.  Quality foods consist of whole grains and protein that fill your stomach and keep you full longer.  Like the article states, the more popular this practice becomes, the cheaper it will become.  The USDA is also providing financial assistance.  Obesity is becoming an issue for Americans.  In my opinion, the best way to help reduce the growing number of cases of childhood diabetes is to at least provide a healthy lunch since they eat at school 5 out of 7 days a week for about 13 years.  Also, if students become accustomed to eating healthy foods at a young age, they will most likely continue eating them when they become older and can choose food for themselves.

Nicole Engleman

**Thank you to Dawn Butler and Kristan Abney  for editing.