It was a few years ago when American school lunches received nationwide condemnation for failing to meet the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s standard of nutritional school lunches and was often compared to prison food. Although Michelle Obama campaigned for healthier school lunches (and has actually pressured districts into serving smaller portions), schools continue to serve processed lunches. Now with a new family in the White House, Michelle Obama’s voice has been swept away while school lunches remain profitable off of student malnutrition.
Students aren’t health conscious, congregating themselves by the lunch line (or snack line) daily. Health is the least of their concerns when they busy themselves talking to their associates or preparing for the following period. Even after they finish their meals, they are still dissatisfied, running to the nearest vending machine to fish out more “nutrition.”
Pushing for a health initiative has failed, something Michelle Obama couldn’t impeccably implement. Trying to rouse federal attention to food is futile, since at this point, the government is much more concerned with blacklisting residents from certain countries. So instead of trying to reform the system, perhaps students should reform our own diet, first by avoiding school lunches & packing their own. But what makes school lunches so bad?
School lunch is like Mcdonald’s…without the Toy
Whenever McDonald critics complain about how eating McDonalds bloats them, they are ignoring that not only do they voluntarily choose to eat out but also dismiss that the purpose of any fast food is for fast delivery. Restaurant cuisine of any kind is not designed to contribute a part to a person’s daily diet, but to leave them satisfied, at least for a few hours.
A school lunch menu is diverse, offering varieties of leftovers from Pizza Hut, Panda Express and McDonalds. Stale sandwiches, sour burritos, and any plate containing cheese are also offered. Coupled with apples and canned beans, it not only “fulfills” the USDA’s quota, but also serves as a convenience for those who do not have time to make their own lunch.
It’s practically fast food, but school lunches aren’t supposed to be fast food. Since student nutrition is also correlated to student performance (with obesity obviously ballooning waistlines and clogging memory), it is paramount the main dish is something natural and fresh but not processed. Regardless of how many stalks of celery you add to a bowl of chicken Alfredo, you are still gobbling a sizeable amount of carbs. Might as well order a Happy Meal; at least you get a toy.
It doesn’t prepare you for college (or for life)
College students are known to thrive on ramen noodles — tasty death traps compacted with dried carbs and permeated with sodium that goes beyond the daily recommendation. Their excuse? Either college cafeteria is too expensive, they are busy with their classes, or simply because they don’t know how to cook.
It’s problematic enough when students go somewhere foreign lacking basic survival skills. Most college students can’t coo and a third of them can’t boil an egg (although ironically, ramen noodles are an exception). So rather than letting college (or high schools) bloat you, perhaps it’s time students can start preparing their own lunch. It’s a worthy investment, considering that packing and preparing your own meals is a staple during adulthood.
Originally published at medium.com