Controversy Over School Lunch Foods and Calories
October 9, 2012
© Melissa Taylor
School lunches just got a whole lot worse --or better, depending on who you ask.
The Health Hungry-Free Kids Act implemented this fall required healthier food choices and calorie restrictions for the 32 million students that eat school lunch. Instead of canned fruit and dried up tater tots, the lunches include food like quinoa salad, chef salad, steamed broccoli, vegetable curry, lentil cutlets, whole wheat spaghetti, fresh jicama and fresh cantaloupe wedges.
Although some kids are happier with the food choices (those kids that eat similar food at home), many are not fans of these new, healthier lunch foods.
Mom Congress delegate Jacquie Fisher shares, “I've seen such a huge change over the past few years with a high school kid whose school lunches use to only included canned fruits/veggies and always sugary desserts. Now my 9-year old likes the lunches much more because they mirror what she sees at home -fresh fruit and veggies, a solid main course and no treats.”
“My son loves it,” enthuses Yolanda Gordon, another Mom Congress delegate. “He loves the sweet potato fries once a week and the broccoli. He says that they eat at school like they eat at home!"
But the food selection is only part of the controversy. Many high school students say they’re starving because the new lunch policy includes the calorie restriction for high schoolers of between 750 - 850 calories per lunch. Athletes say it's too little for anyone who is involved in sports.
One has to wonder if it's also too little of what they like to eat? (You can lead a kid to vegetables but you can’t make him eat.) In fact, Time magazine writer, Kayla Webley shares that in her experience, the veggies go from tray to trash.
"I am a high energy kid mom," says Mom Congress delegate Julie Bergin's son, "I am going to get really skinnier because I am probably burning more than I eat . . .do you think Michelle should take into account different bodies have different needs?"
In response to these complaints, House Republicans have introduced a bill (No Hungry Kids Act) to repeal the calorie restrictions.
What's your take on the new school lunches and calorie restrictions?
If you want to see for yourself, you'll be glad to know there's a day for that -- National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day on October 17.
What do your kids think about these lunches? Comment here.
Melissa Taylor is a freelance writer, an award-winning educational blogger at ImaginationSoup, an award-winning teacher with a M.A. in Education, and a mom of two children, ages 6 and 9. Follow Taylor on Twitter or find her on Facebook.
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