Why School Lunch is Wack: And How To Fix It

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Every single day 30 million students walk to the back of long, boring, lines and wait an average of seven to ten minutes just to get a big pile of disappointment dumped on their tray. Soggy French fries, old lettuce, slimy carrots, and still-frozen fruit are what most of those students have to deal with every day. The rest of them bring the same old PB&J every day because no sane high school student is willing to get up earlier to make something remotely healthy to eat.

On September 1, 2008, a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation was released. Titled Impact of Federal Commodity Programs on School Nutrition, it  showed that ¨Nationally, more than 50 percent of commodity foods are sent to processors (i.e., fat, sugar, and sodium added to foods) before they are sent to schools. Processing is not regulated for nutritional quality and often involves adding fat, sugar, and sodium to commodity products.” Even the supposedly healthy salads we are given are filled with unnecessary calories to meet the calorie amount required to have the meal be approved by the USDA.

In the past couple of years, fewer schools have been allowing students to leave school premises during lunch. More and more students have been complaining about having to stay in school with hundreds of other students with the same unhealthy food that they are bored with. Studies even said that 9 out of every ten students said that they would leave school premises during lunch if they could, and 87% of adults also said the students should be allowed. I interviewed some friends and acquaintances and they all had the same approach to this nutritional dilemma: students should definitely be allowed to leave for lunch, and doing so has many different positive outcomes.

Letting students leave school grounds for lunch helps them form a sense of responsibility and can encourage them to become more social and to go out more. Doing so makes students more well-informed in their own actions and pushes them to acknowledge the “outside world”. When they get out of school, reality won’t hit them like a truck with the fact that not everything is free. It would teach them money management, and even time management.

Students shouldn’t just be able to leave school and come back an hour late and have no consequences. There should obviously be a set of rules put in place that make sure that the students stay safe and come back in time for their next class. Students should have to keep their student ID on them at all times and use it to get in and out of the school for safety precautions. If the student is late one time they get a warning, but if they are more than five minutes late two or more times, they get their lunch privileges taken away from them for the rest of the year. Also, the student needs at least half a year of driving experience with a drivers licence, to be older than 17, and have a signed permission slip from both the student’s parent and the students him/ herself.

Allowing students to leave can also encourage healthy eating habits and give them a chance to go out more and enjoy their youth out in the sun instead of inside a sweaty lunchroom. School lunches are usually processed and not worth eating by many. Out of a survey of 30 people, only 12 of them said they ate school lunch and of the 12, only 6 people said they enjoyed it, the other 18 students either brought food from home or didn’t eat at all. That means that out of the around 2000 students that attend Coon Rapids, only 400 eat the lunch and like it. That also means that 1,600 people (excluding the staff) are left unsatisfied or hungry. At least 500 of those students can benefit from having open campus lunch and make their lunchtime 100% more enjoyable.

The only people that can make open lunch happen in our school are the people that go there. What are you willing to do for what you want?

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Why School Lunch is Wack: And How To Fix It