Should school lunches have a calorie cap?

As a teen, I played three different sports. After practice, I was extremely hungry. Now, with two energetic children of my own, I understand the phrase "eat you out of house and home." Indeed, it's important for growing kids to get enough calories. Yet, for me, a bigger problem is that some kids are eating too much processed food. Now, in an effort to abide by new guidelines, schools have put a calorie cap on lunches. To say the least, the change has upset some students who have boycotted the lunch line and even made a video to protest the changes. As a parent, I agree with making school lunches healthier. Yet, I also think it is going to take time for kids to get used to the new menu.

The New Menu

In 2010, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The new federal guidelines have caused schools to put items with less sugar and salt on their menu. In addition, according to the, there are more "whole grains, only low-fat or nonfat milk and daily helpings of both fruits and vegetables." There is also an 850 calorie cap for high school students. Yet, what some students don't understand is that hungry kids can take an "extra serving of fruits or vegetables." It seems that these extra servings should sustain those who are "hungry."

Food Rebellion

To express their discontent, a group of students made a video parody. In the video, student athletes act as if they are falling over at practice from not getting enough food. Then, they showed kids bringing in junk food to sustain themselves. Yes, an 850 calorie lunch is probably not going to nourish a teenage boy who plays soccer until 6:00 at night. That is why a school lunch is just that, a lunch. Kids who stay after school should have a snack. Of course, there are some low-income children who rely on school breakfast and lunch as their main source of food.

Good Eating Habits

I try to feed my kids as healthy as possible. At my daughter's school, they only give the kids fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Since it's the only choice she has been given, she never complains. When processed food becomes part of our children's regular diet, they are going to expect it. As parents, it's up to us to have healthy choices at home. It's frustrating to hear about kids throwing out perfectly good sweet potato fries and fruit because the students "don't want" these items. I think that is wasteful and an indicator of kids who aren't thankful.

I think the emphasis on fruits and veggies is a step in the right direction. Although the high school kids may not like it, these changes are likely to impact the younger children. A child who has been eating a healthy lunch since kindergarten is likely to have some decent eating habits when he or she enters high school.


McLaughlin, Jim School lunches: Students protest less portions, rising nutrition

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