BY JULIA WINTON
A&E / OPINION COPY EDITOR
In 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which enforced a stricter, healthier lunch menu in all public schools across the nation. A decade later, his act is still in place today. The purpose of taking this action is to help reduce obesity rates and promote a healthy lifestyle; however, it is not as effective as it seems.
When kids buy lunch at school, they normally skip over the chance at grabbing the healthy component of the meal, the part that allows a balanced meal to be heavy in nutrients and low in sugar, salt and fat. If students do not willingly take the healthy portion of the meal, the cafeteria staff is responsible for encouraging them to take it or just placing it on their tray. Usually, when this is the case, kids will just ignore this part of the meal and toss it out when they are done with the remainder of the meal. Not only is this a major waste of good quality food, but it is also not giving them the nutrients they need. Without a healthy element, such as a fruit or vegetable, it is just a futile attempt and considerable setback at reaching the goal of getting kids and teens to eat and live a healthier lifestyle.
When kids do not eat a large portion of their meal at school because it is healthy, they go home hungry. This would then make the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act completely ineffective because students would not only throw away their healthy meal at school, but also they will probably snack on an abundance of junk food when they arrive home. Having the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in place would then make students’ health worse than what it was when it started. The fact that an action taken to help enrich and provoke a healthier diet actually makes kids’ health worse is extremely ironic.
Implementing the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act among all public schools in America is not only able to harm a student’s physical health, but their mental health and academic activity as well. Many of the low calorie foods supplied to students in an attempt to serve them a healthy lunch utilize processed foods, artificial flavors, artificial coloring, preservatives, emulsifiers and other food additives. Also, these intense diets contain high levels of saturated fats which have the ability to impair students’ learning and memory. In addition, when students refuse to eat their meals because they are too healthy, the deficiency of vitamins and minerals in their bodies diminish their cognitive abilities and mental concentration.
Students who actively participate in the healthy lunch movement by eating these supposedly healthier lunches receive more harm than good from this food. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act forces schools to serve lunches consisting of 51 percent whole grains, increased amounts of fruits and vegetables and reduced saturated fats. However, in order to reach these requirements, the whole grains served are mostly processed, meaning they are converted into sugar when digested. Also, many of the required foods are served from cans, adding extra sugar to the overall meal.
In theory, serving healthy lunches at school seems like a beneficial idea; however, in reality, these lunches do more harm than good to a student’s health. Overall, public schools across the nation should gradually pull away from the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act because not only is it outdated, but it is also extremely ineffective.