Should Schools Offer Fast Food Options and Other Ways to Improve the Cafeteria Food

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Imagine a world where soggy, greasy pizza was served to children every day with no regard for whether or not they get the right nutrients their bodies need. The type of food that children consume affects their weight, their health problems in the future, their attention span, and the amount of energy they have. Children need to have enough nutrients in their everyday meals to be mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy. Therefore, the government should restrict the kinds of foods that can be served in school cafeterias because of its impact on keeping their generation healthy.

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In recent years, school cafeteria lunch nutrition standards have changed. The latest change in school nutrition standards took effect in July 2012 after the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Before that, schools were more lenient in what they served in lunch cafeterias.

According to the School Nutrition Association website, “ These standards…require schools to offer students the right balance of fruits, vegetables, low-fat or fat-free milk, whole grains and lean protein with every meal” (par. 1). The organization explains that the school nutrition standards that have been implemented after the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The new regulations require students to have more fruits and vegetables, milk with reduced-fat, and limited sodium and fat in meals. These regulations were the government’s attempt at providing healthy food for children.

Government restrictions on the kinds of foods that children eat at school are essential in having them thrive in school. Regulations need to be set in place in order for children to succeed. Because their bodies and minds are still developing, there is a lot more they need to not only keep growing but also to concentrate in class. Sam Kass, a food entrepreneur, agrees that children who are provided with a nutritious meal at school are more likely to perform better by having improved behavior, attendance, and lower levels of anxiety and depression than those who do not eat a decent meal (4:30- 5:50). With the government providing healthy meals for children, it is likely that they will succeed in the occupation they choose to pursue.

Moreover, the government restricting the kinds of foods school cafeterias serve can help children form good eating habits that they will carry on throughout their lives and into the next generation. Children learn from what they observe, so adults must be a good example of healthy eating in order for them to form healthy eating habits. Because we live in a culture of wanting food to appear in an instant’s notice, many Americans eat their meals at fast-food restaurants and miss out on much-needed nutrients. Jillian Correia and Ali Sakkal, professors at Wake Forest University, states, “The state of our youngest generation’s health is greatly affected by eating habits practiced during early stages of development” (pg.1 par. 1). Correia and Sakkal emphasize how important it is that everyone including the government needs to pay attention to what foods we give children because it will teach them about nutrition at an early age. For some kids, school lunches are the only meal they get in their day, so it is important that the government uses its resources to provide healthy meals for children.

Furthermore, restrictions on school cafeteria food help relieve the child obesity crisis in America. By exposing them to healthier foods, they are likely to seek better food options and even become physically healthier. Due to this, they could avoid health risks that they may encounter with obesity. Susan Straight, a freelance writer in Washington DC, informs, “Obesity rates in the United States are at records high, a trend that costs the country billions of dollars each year in medical expenses”(par.1). Straight addresses the fact that not only are obesity rates increasing but also that it is the cause of many health problems. Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer are all possible diseases that are at an increased risk for those with obesity. The government regulations on cafeteria food is an important step in lowering obesity rates and opening the doors for children to develop healthier lifestyles.

The opposition believes that the restriction on cafeteria food is ineffective because the suggested meals are not appealing or appetizing. Because of this, many students turn to fast food as a much better alternative through delivery services such as DoorDash, Grubhub, or Uber Eats. Elaine S. Povich, a contributing writer for Washington Post, writes, “Students in middle and high schools across America thought they had found a way around cafeteria ‘cuisine’ and boring brown-bag lunches: just hit up delivery services” (par.1). Povich explains that students simply are not interested in eating healthy foods. The fast-food these students order contain much more salt and sugar than their cafeteria counterparts, making them taste far better in comparison. If these students enjoyed the taste of the healthier options in the cafeteria, then they would not be trying to get just about anything else for lunch. Although the opposition insists that healthy foods in school cafeterias are unappealing, there are ways to make healthy foods appealing to students. Typically when adolescents are forced to do something, they are less motivated to do it, but if they are not forced and see their role models eat healthy, then they are much more willing to try healthier foods. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, schools can encourage students to eat healthier by getting their input on what they would like to see in school meals and making sure students have more than enough time to consume their meal comfortably (par. 4). By ensuring them that the school cares about them and their input (with moderation), it encourages children to eat healthy, maintain a well-balanced diet, and places a positive connotation to eating healthier foods.

Government restrictions on school cafeteria food because it affects the health and performance of children. Teaching good eating habits for children is important for creating a healthier generation. Due to some students relying on cafeteria lunches as their only meal, this is very important. Children look up to adults as their role models, so adults need to be able to set a good example for them.

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