by Gianna Romano
As children we were always told that a healthy diet is the most important thing. The things we eat are the fuel for our bodies. It gives us the energy we need to grow and to strengthen our minds. In school there are numerous posters pinned around the halls and cafeteria trying to inform students about balanced meals and scare them out of a life of obesity. Why then do the school lunches not reflect their views on healthy eating?
For as long as I can remember our school meals have been terrible! Every day for twelve years I have placed my Styrofoam tray upon that shiny metal counter only to be disappointed.
Let’s be honest for a moment; the food tastes disgusting! Not one meal is appetizing, even the pizza. I mean, how do we mess up a pizza? Most of the time, you can’t identify the food. Several times I have asked the lunch ladies what was for lunch, and all I received was a confused look and the response, “Your guess is as good as mine.” So if we don’t know what we are eating and if they don’t know what they are making, then maybe it shouldn’t be served to students.
It’s not just the way it tastes, but it’s also the portions. A new food plate has replaced the outdated pyramid. It demonstrates that half of our plate should have produce and fruits, not including potatoes; a quarter should be grains, and the rest protein. Even though this is what a balanced meal should look like, this is not the case at most public schools. We have five sections on our trays, and we are lucky if three are filled. Why is that? We see this on the news and even in our health classes, that a balanced diet is the key to a happier, healthier life, but obviously this is not a huge priority for schools.
When I think of this problem my main concern is with students who lack the finances needed to buy lunch. There must be several students that don’t get dinner or breakfast every day, or children in low income housing who simply cannot afford the increasing price of lunches. What happens if this is their only meal, shouldn’t we make it count?
There are certain programs that supply these students with free lunch. Usually these children face more restrictions on their meals, and as the food gets worse, the prices continue to rise. I find it disturbing to deny a hungry child a filling portion, solely because of their parent’s financial status. I am concerned with what happens to the kids without any money, and those who do not receive free lunch. At my school, these children are given the option to eat a “cheese sandwich” or nothing at all. This lunch includes one slice of cheese between two pieces of wheat bread, and a carton of milk. Does this sound like a healthy meal for an unfortunate child?
Cdc.gov writes, “Healthy eating patterns in childhood and adolescence promote optimal childhood health growth, and intellectual development; prevent immediate health problems, and may prevent long-term health problems.” So if a healthy eating pattern is going to benefit our growth and increase our intellectual development, then why is this not a bigger priority? Maybe if we focused more on the lunches, we would see an increase of energy in the students. This could cause more participation inside and outside of the classroom. The students’ grades and test scores would soar, and their community would benefit by having more active children getting involved in clubs and sports.
Of course we all object to something like this, but silently. Therefore, nothing changes, and the students continue to suffer. So if you are tired of experiencing these terrible meals, or if you notice your child’s lack of energy, speak up! I am asking parents, students, and concerned citizens to write in, show up, speak out, and demand attention on this topic. The only one that can make the change is you, so change it!
My name is Gianna Romano. I am seventeen years old, and I am a senior at Medford High School. I have attended public school my whole life, and I have always received free lunch due to my single mother’s low income. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. (ed: I have withheld her phone and address)