Should Schools Be Required To Provide Healthy Foods For Kids?

Should schools be required to provide healthy foods for kids? Several responses are from teens. Regardless all are passionate about this and have taken the time to share what they think would improve a broken system! Read on...

TOPIC: Should Schools Be Required To Provide Healthy Foods For Kids?

The Question:

Should Schools Be Required To Provide Healthy Foods For Kids?

With an increasing number of obese children, it is no wonder why such a topic is necessary to discuss.

Should schools be required to provide healthy foods for children? If yes, which kinds of foods and why?

Should schools be required to offer junk foods?

Should the responsibility of a healthy diet for children rely on the school or the parents?

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Nutrition In Schools
Should Schools Be Required To Provide Healthy Foods For Kids?

With an increasing number of kids with obesity, it is no wonder why such a topic is necessary to discuss...

It's a fact that ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie Pumping Iron people have become more and more concerned about their weight and appearance. Ever since, there have been numerous movies such as Super Size Me that place the blame on society, and also the production of these foods, including hidden ingredients that no one would consume if they knew they were there.

Millions of adults strive each day to eat healthier and stay active, but children between the ages of 6-to-16-years old aren't as concerned about their health. Team sports are available for children to get active, but there is a huge keystone missing from many schools: Nutrition.

As a fourth-year high school student, I know what schools serve. I know, as a bodybuilder, schools don't support eating healthy snacks every couple of hours. There aren't healthy snacks available either.

The vending machines are filled with potato chips, candy bars and sugary candies. There are six pop machines in my school. There is one bottled water machine. There is one Gatorade machine, but Gatorade isn't much healthier than pop, in my opinion.

There is a problem in our schools today. There are some schools across the nation which put forth the effort to give children better food options, most want to go the cheap route; processed foods take minutes to prepare and serve.

Lunch ladies these days no longer make the lunches; they just warm it up in massive quantities and serve it. The salad bar in my lunchroom is a few feet long with limited options. I have the choice to get a banana or apple. Other than that, the fresh fruit is not so fresh.

I can get sugar-syrup covered peaches or other mixed fruit covered in sugary (high-fructose corn) syrups. What is even funnier in my opinion? In our salad bar, there is always pudding, and other desserts such as apple pie and other pastries. Should schools be required to provide healthy foods for kids? YES.

Healthy Foods
Should Schools Be Required To Provide Healthy Foods For Kids? If Yes, Which Kinds Of Foods And Why?

Schools should be required to offer healthy, and healthier foods for kids. The main issue to address: what should they offer? How do they prepare it? How can they improve our schools' nutrition?

The Forgotten Word: Fresh:

Ever since the invention of the T.V. Dinner, we have been blessed with meals that are ready within minutes. The problem with these foods is that they are loaded with sodium, covered with sugar and high in fat. One T.V. dinner can pack more than 800 calories!

That is a massive meal, especially when it is made for dinnertime consumption. It's one thing when adults eat this, and may or may not know how poor it is for their health. But when kids eat these foods, thinking it is nutritious and filling, there is a problem.

For those of you who have seen "Super Size Me" you know how the stereotypical lunch lady provides food for consumers. It's brought in, in massive truckloads, already cooked, and in frozen form. These foods could be months old, preserved with thousands of milligrams of sodium, and made quickly through processes of frying and battering.

I ate school lunch off and on through my freshman year. The pizza was often very dry. The chicken nuggets, which taste good, are also not what chicken should look like. I am not sure what part of the chicken a nugget comes from, but from the normal chicken anatomy ... well I think I don't want to know.

There are other "specials" such as the quesadilla. There is supposed to be chicken inside of it, but it looks more like chopped tuna than chicken. Discolored, often cold, and irregularly-textured are just a few words that could sum up the quality of the foods my school serves, consumes.

The company that supplies our nutritious and delicious lunches is Aramark. It's kind of funny because I searched their site up and down and I could not seem to find any good information on how they feel about the nutritious value of their foods.

Of course there were lots of posted job opportunities, and lots of ways you could sign up to have them cater to you, but zero nutrition information. I was stumped. I decided to go on a venture of my own. I wanted to interview the "Aramark guy" who is at our school, overlooking our beloved lunch ladies.

I had to think how to go about doing this though. I didn't want him to think I was some punk just being a smart@ss. I wanted to go about this in a very intelligent and mature manner.

I went to school Monday, May 21, in a dress shirt, dress pants, and with a pad and paper. I figured this would make him at least think I was worth talking to. I caught him prior to the lunch hour, setting up for the first lunch hour's rush. I asked him a series of questions.

The conversation went like this:

[ Me ] Hello sir, I am Kevin B[.], and I have a couple of questions to ask about the Aramark lunch service here at Mahomet Seymour High School.

[ Aramark Guy ] Hello Kevin, what do you want to know?

[ Me ] Do you feel that Aramark produces the best quality products possible?

[ AG ] Yes, we of course are on a budget as any other company is, but we attempt to serve kids with the food that they want.

[ Me ] That's good. How much money do you spend each year on our school's food?

[ AG ] I cannot answer that question.

[ Me ] Why not?

[ AG ] I cannot give you an exact figure at this time.

[ Me ] I see, well do you feel giving kids the food that they WANT is better than giving them the food that they NEED?

[ AG ] I don't have time for this, I have work to do, sorry.

[ Me ] Just a couple more questions, please.

The Aramark guy walks off, I don't pursue him due to the potential risk of getting in trouble.

I think this little interview proves that these large companies do not care about the nutritional content of their food. All kinds of food can taste good, or even look good, but contain ingredients that are poor and anything but nutritious.

I felt that despite the fact that I tried to appear professional, he recognized me, and simply did not want to bother with me. Typical big business man, condescending, and not willing to defend his company when confronted.

Back on track here, to the whole fresh ideal. There are two fresh fruits that my lunchroom contains: bananas or apples. They alternate back and forth throughout the week, it's one or the other. The apples are often waxy looking (not fresh and natural in my opinion) and the bananas are rarely ripe enough to eat.

The other fruits and vegetables available are lettuce, which is sparse of nutrients and mostly water, the occasional sliced carrots, otherwise you have one plain salad. Of course, there is a wide variety of sugary, salty and high fat salad dressings. There are usually French and thousand island-like dressing.

We need to incorporate more fresh foods into our schools. Long-processed foods such as chicken nuggets and pizza are not proper nutrition for the ever-growing obesity of America.

Knowledge: Macro & Micronutrient Information:

I think it's important for schools and school-lunch providers to provide the nutritional information for foods that are served. Maybe if kids saw that there are 20 grams of fat in 5 chicken nuggets they would go for the salad bar.

I know a few people, surprisingly, who regularly criticize my school's lunches and actually say they would not want to know what is in them. Is that good, for kids to not want to know what they consume? I believe if there was nutrition information posted before the kids, highlighting the content of each meal, they would be forced to make smarter choices.

This past year there was actually a newsletter going out to parents monthly online, that highlighted how the parents should make sure their kids get the proper nutrition they need. This is coming from an overweight principal, who has kids eating food that is just as bad as taking a field trip to McDonald's.

When I first got into bodybuilding and caring about my body, I became increasingly concerned about food labels and curious as to what I consumed. To this day, I will not eat a lot of the foods I once ate, because I could not imagine putting some of that synthetic junk into my body.

I firmly believe if kids actually knew what they eat, a vast majority of them would choose to eat something lower in fat and calories, and make smarter choices.

Limiting The Bad: Sugar & Bad Fats:

There are hundreds of jokes about being on sugar highs and drinking dozens of cans of pop. What kids are not aware of how this can wreak havoc on their bodies? Our bodies may need carbohydrates, but sugars are not the correct source of carbohydrates we need to function through the day.

There are SIX pop machines in my school. All have the same products in each one. Two serve cans of pop and the other four serve bottles. All are Pepsi owned. Then we have one water bottle machine. Why is there such a vast difference?


What I would love to know is why we don't have a milk machine? We have to wait in line to get an 8-ounce carton of milk. Which brings me to my next rant.

Up until this past year it had always been skim milk, 2% milk and 1% chocolate milk. Now, they serve vanilla and strawberry flavored milks. These two flavors are loaded with even more sugar than the chocolate milk. These flavors are also offered every single day of the week.

Meanwhile, skim milk is usually available 3-or-4 days of the 5-day week. This angers me so greatly when I have to go around asking the lunch ladies why there is no skim milk. There is no skim, but there is plenty of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry milk!


The next thing is fat. I am not a big low-fat person, but I do try to keep my trans and saturated fats low. In my lunch room, with fries served daily and battered meats served often, it's hard to keep your fat intake healthy.

Low fat foods seem to be the minority of all foods these days. There is always more 2% milk than skim. There are no fat-free dressings. There aren't even low fat options at my school. If you choose to eat hot lunch at my school, you are limited to clogging your arteries and having diabetes.

Maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but my point is: for those of us with busy lives, especially juniors and seniors, packing a lunch can be a hassle, and healthy options at school would be much appreciated. Even though my school has signs up endorsed by Aramark showing happy kids eating their lunches, is is just another big business looking to make a profit.

Graduating High School: The Conclusion:

I am going to be done with high school in a little more than a week now. I will be done with my high school, and everything that goes along with it. But I genuinely hope that someday high schools across the nation will wake up and realize that the meals they provide for kids are very unhealthy. With the growing rate of obesity in America, we need to steer the younger generation in the right direction before it is too late.

I think healthy eating should be encouraged in a very casual way. There are plenty of routes to take, such as organic pizzas, serving fresh vegetables with meals instead of french fries, and skim and 1% milks being the only beverages served. One pop machine is understandable, but when there are pop machines that literally line the hallway, there is something wrong there.

Another thing that I would LOVE to see, is healthy options in the vending machines. At the very least, we could have baked chips instead of regular. We could have energy bars, which have protein in them and complex carbohydrates instead of butterfingers and snickers.

What about unsalted varieties of nuts, and natural trail mixes? All of these would be a hit, but schools are not willing to do it, it seems. I believe providing kids with healthy snacks and lunches would also improve the performance of the school overall: increased mental focus and better physical health, all the way around.

This is a topic I am very passionate about, and hope to change someday. I realize that I live in the generation of kids who will be the future of this nation someday. I believe healthy options at school, where we spend 3/4 of the year, can help my generation greatly succeed in life.

What's For Lunch: My Menu:

If I could choose the foods for my school, they would be full of good fats, high in protein, and complex carbohydrates. The meals that would be served would be made to fuel students through the day, keep their minds sharp and their stomachs full.

Everyday would include different sandwich options, as the main course. You can still have cheeseburgers, but they have to be made with 93% lean hamburger, fat free cheese and served on a 100% whole wheat bun.

There can be other options as well, organic pizza, made with whole wheat crusts, fresh tomatoes, low fat cheese and fresh vegetables such as green and red peppers as the topping. Specials can include roasted chicken breasts, turkey, tacos made with lean beef and low fat cheese and roast beef. Whole wheat pastas are also a great addition to the bland everyday foods.

There would be a large salad bar, with fresh fruit and vegetables. Low fat dressings would be included, along with all of the other amenities of a healthy salad bar.

There would still be 2% milk, skim milk and 1% chocolate milk. The pop machines would be limited to two at the most, and there would be healthier options such as Powerade (very low in sugar), diet pops and sugar-free flavored waters.

I believe all of my suggestions are equal to the amount of money spent on mass production of other foods. The problem is getting lunch ladies to actually COOK lunch. These days, lunch ladies are simply servers of food, and do not get their hands too dirty.

This could cause an array of problems, but I am sure something could be worked out. Of course, all of what I suggested is in the perfect world, but there are some companies out there who encourage healthy eating.

I believe the key is to not make kids think they are eating healthy. If you gave a kid a slice of organic pizza, chances are he would not know the difference! If you actually announce that the year of 2008 is healthy school lunch year, then kids are going to shun school lunches, and probably be disgusted with what's on the menu.

Is trickery the answer? Maybe. Although, there are many routes that may be taken, even without 100% whole food, that would yield awesome, and effective results.

Junk Food
Should Schools Be Required To Offer Junk Foods?

This is a lot tougher question to ask than it sounds. I want to say no, but for so long there have been some options in school which aren't that healthy. Would it be some transgression of preference to say no to this question? I think it depends what kind of junk foods we are talking about here.

Should things such as chocolate milk, freshly baked pies, and other fresh goods be allowed, I do say yes. Are we asking if potato chips, fries and other fried, processed goods be served, I say no. There is a big difference between these two products.

While the freshly-baked pie may be high in calories, it also will have fresh fruit in it, a light crust, and served in a small, controlled portion. When kids at my school go up to the SALAD bar, they have free reign as to how much of this pie or pudding they want. I think stuff like that should be in small, controlled and healthy portions.

To take away all junk foods would be a little extreme, in my opinion. Especially for the younger children, that is part of childhood. We can all remember craving cookies, or looking forward to that cookie after we finished lunch. That's part of childhood, and taking away a simple pleasure such as that would be a little mean.

To get an even greater understanding of how some of my friends felt, and their parents, I asked around to get some feedback. I asked 10 of my friends, and 10 parents (either the mom or dad). Seven out of my 10 friends said yes, they should offer junk foods. Five of them also agreed it should be in controlled amounts.

The other 3 felt junk foods weren't necessary, and they never ate the offered cookies or vending-machine goods. They also agreed that IF there were to be junk foods, they should be served for the kids, not left to be gorged out on.

Surprisingly, 8 of the parents said yes to allowing junk foods to be served in schools. I asked them what their definition of a junk food was, and they named off things like cookies, pop and chocolate milk. They were shocked to find out that these goods could be obtained in massive quantities, and were not controlled by anyone.

The other 2 parents I asked said no, and felt that kids were already getting enough junk food from their immediate lunches. I laughed at this, and had to agree with them. The pizza and fries cocktail did not leave much to be missed.

I ran these surveys and interviews to make sure my opinion was not biased. Since I took sociology, I learned that understanding my own opinion had much to do with understanding others' opinions.

In this case, it appears that the parents are misinformed about what their kids eat. After naming off common and popular lunches, 5-of-the-8 who said junk food should be allowed, changed their minds and voted against it.

It seems to be an undercover operation, this obesity epidemic. So that may sound a bit exaggerated as well, but it's the truth. Parents are misinformed about what their kids do, and that goes for what they are consuming.

Back the 60s and 70s, when most my generation's parents were in high school, their lunches were nutritious and freshly made. With busy lifestyles now, they seem to slip into assuming that their generation of lunches carried on to the present.

This unfortunately is not true. I believe that this is a continuing problem, and until someone steps up and complains, the food my generation consumes only becomes poorer, and poorer.

Should The Responsibility Of A Healthy Diet For Kids Rely On The School Or The Parents?

When the school year is on, I say the responsibility lies upon both the school and the parents. Parents should do their best to encourage healthy eating habits, but the school, where kids are TAUGHT, needs to be taught that healthy eating is important too. Healthy options need to be there to be had. When there are no healthy options there, there's a problem.

Of course, I am one of these people who apply the old saying "guns don't kill people, people kill people". You're probably thinking "where are you going with this?" But my point is: the knowledge needs to be there for kids to eat right, and not limited to when it comes to their food options.

Kids should know that eating a deli sandwich is healthier than the cheeseburger. This is when the role of the parents comes in. If kids are served up microwave dinners and donuts for breakfast at home, they are not going to care about their health, and probably be overweight as well.

I was brought up with a fairly unhealthy diet, but I chose on my own to make a change. The problem is, most kids and even adults these days feel that once they are overweight, there is nothing they can do, and the motivation is simply not there.

Though parents have the role of teaching kids what is good and what is not, the options must be there, once again. At my school, if I had a child and told him or her to have a deli sandwich, salad on the side, skim milk and a small dessert, there would be a problem.

There are no fresh deli sandwiches served at my school. The salads are limited, and then loaded with sugar, fat, and sodium with the dressing. Skim milk is usually there, but questionable. Lastly, if he or she decides to purchase a dessert, such as a cookie, they are served up a cookie the size of their head. Not to mention the expense of these foods.

In conclusion, I do feel that something needs to change about the lunchrooms across America. For some reason, our concern about health has declined dramatically over the past 30 years.

What's ironic, is our technology has gotten a lot better, you would think the foods produced these days would be healthier! Not so much. The fact is that our technology has allowed us to produce food quicker, taste good, but in most cases be much more sparse of vital nutrients our bodies need.

The future is unknown. But hopefully in the future our schools will become more concerned about the health of our future, and the next generations to come will be on the right track. God gave us our body. We should take care of it, love it and enjoy it to the fullest.

For any questions concerning this topic, or anything else, please feel free to contact me:

Kevin B.

Work Cited:

    1. Interview with Aramark Representative
    2. Interviews with friends and adults

2nd Place - TinyMan
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In U.S. society, and quickly spreading to other nations, there is an increasing epidemic of obesity. In the United States alone, there are 127 million overweight adults, and almost 70 million obese children 1.

Obesity is linked to dangerous and life-threatening diseases such as type-II diabetes, and heart disease 2. With the climbing rate in obesity in the world, it has become apparent that to prevent continued increases, children need to be educated not only in the typical subjects such as math and science, but also in newer issues such as obesity and the dangers of poor eating.

Healthy Foods
Should Schools Be Required To Provide Healthy Foods For Kids?

The simple answer to this question is that yes, a school should be required to provide healthy options for children. This does not require that all food be healthy, however the option should be presented to children as a way to heighten their health, and by extension their lives.

With the fast food market performing so well in the food market, and mass production of food, it is necessary to ensure that children have easy access not just to potentially harmful foods, but also to healthy, nutritious foods.

One tool parents can easily use to determine health is by requesting nutritional information from their school. By law (administered by the FDA), institutions that provide food, or meals, are required to produce documentation of ingredients, as well as the nutritional breakdown of what is being served.

These documents, as well as a grasp of healthy eating, are a great tool to help parents steer children toward a healthy and active lifestyle.

With An Increasing Number Of Kids With Obesity, It Is No Wonder Why Such A Topic Is Necessary To Discuss.

Obesity and diabetes are the fastest growing problems in the U.S. and are very closely related. As most schools employ the 'closed campus' policy (that is, students may not leave the campus for lunch), it creates what is economically known as the 'captive audience.' That is, the providing company of food has a certain group of children that needs lunch every day, and will have to accept what they are served.

Coupled with the governmental concept of diminished rights in schools, it is the duty of adults to ensure that their children are offered high-quality food (which often gets sacrificed for lowering price). By enforcement that healthy foods are available to children, parents are then able to shape their child's future for a good future.

Healthy Food
Should Schools Be Required To Provide Healthy Foods For Kids? If Yes, Which Kinds Of Foods And Why?

A school should provide foods that are of reasonably healthy profile. This is not to say that everything in the menu must be the 'clean' diet that many bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts lead, but a selection of reasonably-priced and nutritionally-sound foods should be available.

This means that foods such as: fruits, vegetables, whole-grain carbohydrates, high-quality meats (~15% fat instead of 22%), and nutritional profiles that fit into a reasonable 3-meal per day diet. Conversely, there needs to be a selection of foods that don't contain man-made trans-fatty acids or high fructose corn syrups, and foods that not laden with sugar or excessive amounts of fat.

These sorts of meals and options should be required so the availability of a healthy meal exists. By teaching children at a young age that there are better options for them than the next hamburger or pizza, we encourage them to think about their meals, and help change the perception of those who eat healthy. By setting the precedent at a young age that healthy eating is more than acceptable, but is the smarter than indulgence.

Junk Food
Should Schools Be Required To Offer Junk Foods?

It is difficult to say that a school should be 'required' to provide junk foods. There are no FDA-recognized reasons that junk foods provide any health benefit (hence the name, junk food!), it is difficult to justify that in fact they must be made available.

In contrast, healthy foods such as fruits and good-quality grains have plenty of scientific backing from well-respected universities, organizations and research institutions, validating the requirement of such options.

Inevitably, it can be realized that such a demand exists for such foods, and by extension, economics predict that a supplier will come to meet such demands (our entire economy hinges on this fact). While a school may not be required to make junk foods available to children, as long as they can be legally sold and the demand exists for them, they will remain in schools.

This begs a different, but ultimately related question: "Should schools be required to ban junk foods?" This is a more difficult question not only rationally, but also the ramifications that it holds (and therefore, should be argued).

The knee-jerk reaction of the average fitness enthusiast would tell you that absolutely yes, such foods should be banned. Even from a strictly health-oriented point of view, it would appear that this is the optimal solution; to make only healthy foods available, to ensure that correct nutrition is followed.

On the surface, it does not seem like a bad idea, but consider the implications we are making. First, we deny the right to humans to consume what they choose. Junk foods do not pose a clear and immediate threat to life (although they do in the long term), nor do they infringe on the rights of others to live their lives as they see fit.

By banning junk food from the premises, it sends the message that children, and by extension we, do not hold the right to choose what foods we consider to be the 'correct' ones. If we are willing to fight for the right to choose healthy foods, it must logically follow that we fight for the right to choose unhealthy foods. Fundamentally, the argument is not for good or bad foods; it is the argument of our choice of consumption.

Secondly, economic theory also presents us with the inevitable result of banning a wanted good: a black market. Black markets exist when there is a necessary demand (in this case, junk foods), but the supplier has been blocked.

Forming to this case, it should be predicted that children will bring the junk food with them to school, and those who could not bring it will trade or buy for it. This has the undesired result that the trading material is not necessarily monetary, but also schoolwork, and answers to tests.

Banning does not solve a problem when the market exists, and lobbyists for such action should first understand the effects of their cause.

Should The Responsibility Of A Healthy Diet For Kids Rely On The School Or The Parents?

When everything is said and done, it is the parent who must form the future of the child. If the parent is not willing to take responsibility for the diet of their child, then it is unreasonable to expect that someone who deals with hundreds to thousands of children per day.

Parents have constant access to their children's meal choice at school, and also have the benefit of controlling the foods at home. To expect a teacher, worker or administrator to track a single child's eating habits is unreasonable, and fundamentally a parent is responsible for the upbringing of their child.

There are a few simple tools that parents can use to encourage healthy eating:

1. Set A Good Example:

Children naturally will emulate their parents, and we will always pass on our traits to our offspring. By eating well and being active, it provides a much-needed role model for children to be, and gives them someone to look up to.

Conversely, by eating poorly and never exercising, we send the message that it is alright to be overweight, and that nutrition is not important.

2. Education:

This is one of the most overlooked aspects of living. A parent does not need a college degree in the subject to show their children how to lead a reasonable and healthy lifestyle; however it may require some learning as to how to change their own.

Instead of simply telling a child that 'this is just how it is done,' being able to provide reasons and learning will help develop the knowledge of the child, and spark the interest to learn more about eating right, and living well. A good amount of experience and common sense will lead someone in the right direction for living, and staying away from the epidemic of obesity.

3. Keep Healthy Foods, And Eat Them Too:

Provide a home environment supportive of good eating (including doing it yourself). Having good food introduces the concept that it is normal to eat right. Allowing junk food as a special treat, it keeps the intake of bad foods minimal, and also makes it more of an event that is rare, instead of an everyday thing.

4. Talk To Your School:

Request information! Ensure that your child is getting a reasonable meal from the school, and if the food is not meeting reasonable specifications, send a meal with your child to school. The extra 20 minutes in the morning can make all the difference for a child.

This world is quickly approaching a problem that will require large changes on behalf of an entire population, largely caused by the opulence that many residents of the U.S, Europe and similar countries enjoy.

Obesity is only one facet of this problem, however a serious one that cannot be changed overnight. By setting a good example of eating habits both at school, and at home, the next generation of adults can be healthier, and better prepared for what they will face in life.

Sources Cited:


3rd Place - yoyohomieg5432
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Healthy Foods
Should Schools Be Required To Provide Healthy Foods For Kids?

This topic has been in the center of debate for the last couple of years. The youth of America is getting fatter and fatter. In fact, 1-in-3 kids aged 12-to-19 years are considered overweight, and 15.5% are obese (1).

In the last several decades, the American lifestyle changed significantly. Just 25 years ago, children enjoyed being outside, playing baseball with their friends. Nowadays children can play baseball on their favorite videogame system without even having to get off the couch! How convenient!

The American working class has also become busier in recent years, which contributed to the lucrative fast-food market. Many people simply don't have time to worry about what their children eat.

Many parents don't have the time to pack a nutritious lunch for their children everyday, so they give their kids a couple dollars and tell them to buy lunch at school. Naturally, the kid chooses what tastes best to them, which is usually food high in fats, sugars, and carbohydrates.

Because students spend a great amount of their day in school, in my opinion, it is the schools' responsibility to care for the children in that time. When I was in grade school, middle school and even the first year of high school, I, just like most other kids, had no idea of what proper nutrition was.

In grade school, I ate what was on the menu every day. We had no choice of what to eat, unless we brought our own lunch. This usually consisted of hamburgers, corndogs, pizza, hotdogs and nachos every day of the week. We then got to choose a side, usually french fries, or some kind of dessert and chocolate milk.

My nutrition consisted of sugars, lots of bad fats and plenty of carbohydrates. My diet was even worse in middle school. Every day I had an extremely greasy hamburger, accompanied with soggy french fries and a Hawaiian Punch.

If I was especially hungry, I threw in a star crunch candy bar or cookie on top of that. Because of that horrible diet, I was overweight in my youth. That was, and is how the majority of kids eat during school. And because of that, I think schools must provide healthy foods.

Which Kinds Of Foods And Why?

Although foods in our schools need to be changed, there must be a balance between health and taste. If the food tastes horrible, nobody will buy their lunch at school. The whole point of changing the foods in schools is to encourage youth to make healthy decisions. With that in mind, there are several solutions I think would be effective

1. Fixing The Meals:

In my opinion, changing out what kids eat immediately would be a disaster. Instead, I think the ingredients in the foods should be changed to make them much healthier.

A. Fixing The Main Course:

For example, I'll use a hamburger. The typical school hamburger currently consists of a soggy white bun, some kind of mystery meat loaded with grease, and ketchup loaded in sugar. If the bun changed to a whole wheat, it would be much better.

It will have the right amount of carbohydrates and healthy carbs. Whole wheat is also rich in fiber and many other nutrients.

In my opinion, wheat breads also taste better, and they keep you full for longer, which could also benefit in stopping obesity. Next, the mystery meat hamburger patty could be replaced with quality, lean ground beef.

Lean ground beef is high in protein, and low in fat. If it was grilled, it would taste even better than the frozen patties, and it would taste much better.

Finally, you could encourage the consumption of vegetables by allowing kids to put lettuce, onions, pickles, etc. on their burger. Replacing regular ketchup with low-sugar ketchup would also be beneficial.

B. Fixing The Sides:

Instead of giving kids french fries, healthier sides could be implemented. Many kids love watermelon. Watermelon and other fruit would be a very beneficial replacement to fried foods. Fruits taste good, and have lots of healthy sugars and other nutrients.

Although some kids may eat fruit, many will probably avoid it still. For those kids, healthier "french fries" could be served. Sometimes I enjoy cutting fresh potatoes into wedges, and placing them on a pan that has been coated with extra virgin olive oil. I then place the pan into the oven and cook them. This is a healthy way to eat potatoes, and they taste very similar to french fries. They also have healthy fats from olive oil.

C. Fixing The Drinks:

First, I think soda should be banned from schools. There is no reason that schools should sell drinks loaded with caffeine and sugar. Instead, there are other tasty beverages that are much healthier.

Schools could make home-made fruit smoothies from fresh fruits. They could sell 100% natural fruit juices without all the added sugars and chemicals. They could sell skim milk or chocolate milk with very low amounts of sugar.

Milk is very important for growing kids. It's rich in calcium, important for building strong bones, protein, and vitamin D. Most importantly, schools should encourage the purchase of water. Water is absolutely essential to becoming a healthier person and living a healthy lifestyle.

2. Limiting Junk Foods:

I think banning junk foods altogether would be a bad move, especially at the beginning of changing school's meal plans. Instead, I think there should be taken to promote healthier living.

A. Limiting:

First, I think the schools need to limit childrens' intake of junk foods in school. In my high school, every time we buy food at school, we need to type our ID number into a computer. This is done to help stop kids from stealing food. However, I think this technology could also be used to keep tabs on what the kids eat.

When the cashier types in what food you purchase, the computer could keep track of foods classified as 'junk foods,' and keep a virtual tab on what you eat. Schools could set rules on how much junk food could be purchased each month, and if they exceed the limit, then the kids' should be unable to purchase the junk food.

B. Recreating The Junk Foods:

I also think the schools could supply healthier junk foods, and eventually replace them with the others. Schools could make home-made banana breads using whole wheat flour, Splenda, bananas and other healthier ingredients.

This would still get a similar taste, but much healthier. I've also seen newer desserts known as 100-calorie snack packs. They taste good, and although they aren't the best option, they sure beat a 400-calorie cinnamon roll or cookie loaded with sugar and fats.

Junk Food
Should Schools Be Required To Offer Junk Foods?

I kind of answered the majority of this question above, but I'll add a little bit more. I think schools should require some junk foods, but healthier ones. Kids need to learn self control, and how to make good choices. These skills will help them for the rest of their lives.

Also, I don't think kids should be completely deprived of junk foods because they will be encouraged to go home and have a junk food binge where they are allowed to eat junk food. Banning junk foods in schools could create a 'taboo'. Kids would want to 'rebel' against that rule, and over-eat junk foods when they get ahold of them.

Should The Responsibility Of A Healthy Diet For Kids Rely On The School Or The Parents?

I think there is a balance between them. However, most of the responsibility should be on the parents. It is the parents' responsibility to teach their children how to make the right decisions, and healthy decisions. Parents need to make sure their kids eat healthy.

If parents educate their kids, and promote the consumption of healthy foods at home, those teaching will reflect their eating habits at school as well.

However, many kids don't have parents who teach their kids to make healthy eating choices, which is why the school should have partial responsibility as well. Kids spend 7-8 hours or more at school every day, and school influences who they become. If schools educate students on healthy-eating habits, and provide healthy foods, good things will come.

In conclusion, I think schools must begin providing healthier foods to students. America's obesity epidemic isn't going to get better if something isn't done now. In today's generation, if things continue how they are, many parents can expect to outlive their own children. Changes need to be made now to bring America's youth back to health.

Works Cited:


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Healthy Foods
Should Schools Be Required To Provide Healthy Foods?

A simple statement by itself, 1-of-3. However, despite the simplicity of the statement, it represents a much more complex issue, the issue of childhood obesity. 1-of-3 children in the United States is overweight, with a staggering 15% of children considered obese.

The topic of who is to blame for this epidemic could drag on endlessly, but there are obvious ways we can improve these statistics. In the same way we send our children to school to expand their minds, they should also shrink their waistlines in the halls of the educational institute.

While the primary responsibility for healthy eating will always lie on the shoulders of parents, children spend a large portion of their day in school. Because of this, schools should be required to provide healthy meals that reflect the needs of growing children.

Many schools offer meals that reinforce convenience and taste over nutritional value. A quick perusal of an actual school cafeteria menu revealed some shocking truths:

    • Pizza on the menu daily
    • Hamburgers on the menu daily
    • Salads on the menu twice a week
    • And fried foods daily

With options like the above, it is no wonder that our children are "growing" out so fast. Schools must immediately take steps to not only provide healthy food options, but to educate children on the basics of nutrition and the need for proper eating habits.

Which Kinds Of Foods And Why?

Inside of the bodybuilding world, the topic of nutrition is vast and broad, with many different viewpoints. Taking that kind of approach with schools and nutrition would be a recipe for failure. With that in mind, schools need to go back to the basics. Even something as simple as using the food pyramid would drastically improve the health of our youth in America, and worldwide.


Start at the bottom of the food pyramid and find the "grains" food group. This food group typically includes: bread, cereals, rice and pasta. To be clear, that does not include overly-processed and sugared cereals and breads.

Whole wheat and nutritionally-dense selections provide a very solid base of the food pyramid. Often overlooked is the serving size of these types of items. A single piece of bread, a cup of cereal, a half-cup of rice and a half-cup pasta are all considered a single serving.

Many schools sabotage their children by providing vastly oversized servings in the grain category. Some excellent food selections in this category are:

      • Whole Wheat Breads and Buns
      • Whole Wheat Pasta
      • Brown Rice
      • Oatmeal
      • Unsweetened Cereals


The next step up the food pyramid is the "vegetable" group. This is where we begin to fail children miserably. Gone are the days when children got their vegetables, and here are the days of cheese-covered, ranch dipped, nutritionally-ruined veggies.

Schools should provide children with a wide variety of dark green and orange vegetables, such as:

      • Kale
      • Spinach
      • Brussel Sprouts
      • Broccoli
      • Asparagus
      • Cauliflower
      • Avocado

There are too many amazingly nutritional vegetables to be ignored.

The recommendation for a 4-year old is 1 1/2 cups of veggies a day, and I would gander to say that most teenagers do not even meet that requirement.


Moving laterally on the pyramid to nutritional success we find the "fruit" group. Schools should offer a wide variety of fresh and seasonal fruits, as opposed to the traditional apples, oranges and bananas.

While the three "staple fruits" do indeed have their place in the lunchroom, there are some amazing vitamin-filled and tasty options available, such as:

      • Strawberries
      • Kiwis
      • Mangoes
      • Papaya
      • Cherries
      • Blueberries
      • Guavas

While fruits are often high in sugar content, they would do especially well when provided in the morning and lunch meals at school for children.


The next section of the food pyramid is the dairy section. Surprisingly, many children exceed the recommendations of this group on cheese alone. However, cheese is one of many good options for children to seek out in the dairy food group.

The dairy group is rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium which are vital for children and adults alike. The dairy group offers many healthy choices, such as:

      • Low fat milks
      • Cheese
      • Yogurt
      • Cottage cheese
      • Pudding

It is also essential that schools have options for those who may be lactose intolerant.


Again moving laterally, we find the protein group, or more lengthily referred to as the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts group. The name of this group does a great job of showing the types of foods we should be offering our children in this group.

We are not talking about the battered, deep-fried, grease-dripping meat options here. We are speaking of lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey, eggs, a variety of dry fiber-rich beans, and various nut options for a healthy fat intake. If we took one food group and modified it to fit what is best for our children, this one would go a long way to making for a healthier world.

Fats, Oils & Sweets:

The last food group is the fats, oils and sweets food group. Many people will tell you they believe that all sweets should be removed from the school cafeterias and vending machines, but I tend to disagree.

In our efforts to improve the health of our children we must keep in mind that they are just that, children. Denying children any dessert-type items is going to only result in them feeling deprived and seeking it out elsewhere. Instead, our schools should focus on providing healthy, yet tasty, dessert and sweet items for our children.

Things like rich dark chocolate, baked whole grain doughnuts, baked chips, sweet potato fries and even whole wheat crusted turkey pepperoni pizza with reduced fat cheese would allow for a nice balance between the tasty and the testy.

However, no matter how much we change the food offerings within our educational system, we will fail if we do not compliment it with further education. Teaching children about making proper food choices is only the beginning. We need to educate our children about macronutrients, portion sizes, calories and put a large emphasis on increased physical activity.

Junk Food
Should Schools Be Required To Offer Junk Foods?

Schools should be required to provide breakfast, lunch and snacks to children. I see no benefit to offering foods that further the obesity epidemic. If schools are to offer unhealthy choices it must be done in a moderated fashion to ensure that children are not given carte blanche to foods that put them at an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, or other weight-related illnesses that are becoming far too common.

To put it bluntly, I see no reason why there should be ANY vending machines within the hallways of our schools.

Should The Responsibility Of A Healthy Diet For Kids Rely On The School Or The Parents?

There is a delicate balance when it comes to who bears the responsibility for providing a healthy diet to children. Children as essentially given over to the educational institution for 7-8 hours a day. I feel that during those hours the responsibility is transferred to the schools to provide proper nutrition.

Parents do have the option to send children with bagged lunches to school, but that should not be at all necessary with the knowledge we currently have of nutrition.

At home, before school, after school, the responsibility lies solely on the parents to reinforce the lessons and methods taught at the school as it pertains to nutrition. It is only through a joint cohesive effort that our children will begin to return to childlike proportions.

In closing, improving the educational system's nutritional offerings is only the beginning to improving the life and longevity of our children. Increased physical exercise, increased social interaction and a reduction in television/video game usage are all pieces of a larger puzzle.

Josh G. aka SCT



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Hey, Let's Promote Obesity

Year after year, obesity becomes more of a danger to our society. It's a growing trend to eat unhealthy food, sit on your butt all day, and avoid any type of physical activity. I personally work in a family-style restaurant as a busboy and the number of people who come in who cannot even fit in a booth is disgusting.

The fact of the matter is that obesity is something that grows from money issues, laziness, and not being disciplined. Obesity can be stopped, but this is only if you teach children the correct way to eat while they are young.

Let's focus on the topic at hand. If this was an article on parent's responsibility on their children's diet, I could write ten pages advising them how to handle this problem. However, this article is based on schools and their daily lunches. Because of many parents' busy schedules, they simply give their child money for school lunch each day.

Considering that this person is a "child", it is quite simple to realize that they are going to take the "yummy" food over the "healthy" food. Let's put it this way. When you were a youngster, did you look forward to the dessert, mac n'cheese and Pepsi, or did you look forward to the veggies and fruits.

If a parent provides money for their child to buy lunch on a daily basis, the result is going to be the child buying and consuming the unhealthy food. However, this problem can be reversed.

By simply "enforcing" schools to serve healthy lunches only, children who are forced to buy lunch are going to buy whatever they can. They will learn to perhaps add salt to their veggies or add some BBQ sauce to their lean chicken, but they will be eating healthy.

A counter-argument to this may be that children who may only choose from healthy lunches may not buy at all. However, this is not true because at a young age, we all know that when you're hungry, you will eat anything that looks remotely like food. Let's see what steps we can take to create healthier school lunches.

What Food?!

Stop Serving:

You may be asking yourself right now, "What kinds of food in schools are so unhealthy?" The answer to this is quite complex. I truly believe that schools don't go around and sell greased up hamburgers, donuts and hot dogs stuffed with who the heck knows, but simple foods such as normal hamburgers, pizza, Bosco sticks, hot dogs, french fries and soda.

Regardless, if they are consumed on a daily basis they can lead to obesity. By cutting these out of a daily diet, you can prevent children from becoming overweight or obese.

Start Serving:

So, what sorts of foods should schools be required to serve children? Well this is a simple question. Think about a bodybuilder's daily diet. Now, I'm not saying go off and sell protein shakes and multivitamins to all children for lunch (even though that would be quite convenient). I simply suggest serving simple things.

Maybe there should be a simple chicken sandwich or barbecue chicken three or four times a week. Why not make one day a week a "steak day". What is so hard about cutting out soda from lunch and presenting Gatorade, Powerade or even the long lost drink "water" to daily lunches instead.

Along with chicken and possibly a "steak day", there is nothing wrong with some fish for those children who enjoy it. Also, cutting out all fattening food would simply be a huge change for many children. This can be prevented by perhaps having a "Pizza day" once a month and a "Hamburger and Fries day" once a month.

Lastly, at many schools fruits and vegetables are an option to buy when purchasing school lunches. However, how many kids are actually going to eat fruits and vegetables? To prevent this from happening, a small fee should be added when buying an entrée and a serving of fruits or vegetables should be required to be added to the lunch.

If a child buys an entrée and throws out the vegetables or fruits, that is a problem that cannot be resolved. However, I'm pretty sure if the child's guardian finds out that their child is paying for a food he/she is not consuming, they are not going to be very happy campers.

Simply adding more healthy foods to school lunches, cutting back on daily unhealthy foods and taking steps to encourage children to eat vegetables and fruits can buy a stop to child obesity.

What Changes May Be Seen

By implementing the suggestions above, many changes would be seen in the community. Along with the positive effects of stopping obesity in children, there may be some minor negative effects to these changes. The first minor negative effect would be increases in price.

If schools did begin selling "healthier" foods, the prices of lunch would be sure to increase. It is quite obvious that by adding chicken, steak and fish instead of frozen hamburgers, frozen hot dogs, and deep fried french fries, prices would not remain the same.

Even though this may affect people of not-so-good socio-economic status, this may teach them that making their kids lunches may be cheaper than giving them money to buy lunches.

Should Junk Food Be Offered?

Hopefully by reading my introduction to this topic, you know my stance on this issue. If junk food is offered in school lunches, it is likely that kids are going to buy the junk food. Kids like the "yummy food" (hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, soda, ice cream) and hate the "icky food" (vegetables, chicken, fish, fruits).

If you put a kid with some "yummy food" and some "icky food", I think the choice of the child is evident. Even though the following sentence may seem far-fetched, I ask you to think it through: If children can't legally vote, drink, smoke, have sex, and make many decisions because they "are not well-educated in those topics," why should children be able to decide what kind of foods they consume if they are uneducated in that topic.

Who's to Blame, Parents or Schools?

Plain and simple, a healthy diet should be provided by the legal guardian of a child. However, there is a growing amount of parents so consumed by other daily tasks that they simply "don't have the time" to make children a lunch on a daily basis.

This mindset is simply laziness by the parent. This is not an attack on parents who allow their children to buy lunch because I believe the reason for this is because the parents are uneducated in this topic.

With this growing problem, parents must be educated on how school lunches can affect their children and I believe any parent in their right mind would provide a homemade lunch for their child on a daily basis after being educated on the effect of school lunches on children.

The answer to this question is simple. Parents are at fault for the healthy diets of their child. Schools are for educating. Parents are for nurturing, loving and being sure that their child is healthy.

A Proposal

The following is a proposal to the United States of America in order to regulate school lunches and obesity in children:

Child obesity is a growing problem in the United States. It is evident that steps must be taken to stop this issue from growing. I propose that three large steps be taken to prevent more children from becoming obese.

  1. Stop unhealthy foods from being served on a daily basis

      • Hamburger's, pizza, hot dogs, french fries, ice cream, soda, or any other unhealthy food (this should be determined by the FDA as to what is and isn't healthy).

      • These "unhealthy foods" are only to be served two times each month, preferably once every two weeks.

  2. Serve only healthy foods with a side Of veggies or Fruits

      • Chicken, fish and steak should be served along with other healthy foods (once again decided by the FDA).

      • A side of fruit or veggies should be required to come with the entrée with an additional small fee. Entrée's are not to be served alone.

  3. Educate Parents

    • Nearly all parents are required to take parenting classes. In these classes, require health and diet tips to be discussed and be sure that child obesity and school lunches are brought up throughout the classes.