The unhealthy reality of school lunches


ART BY ANNIE LIANG

By MAEVE GRAY STAFF WRITER


As students impatiently wait to receive their lunch, their hunger is greeted by a soggy hamburger wrapped in a wet plastic bag. To satisfy the balanced nutrition requirements, apples are offered, some slices still green and others mushy with brown spots. Here, we have America's worst delicacy: public school food.


In the eyes of many students, American school lunches have a pretty terrible reputation. Although the food provided can be sustainable to a multitude of different adults, American school lunches look embarrassingly bad compared to other countries.


Many activists, such as the former First Lady Michelle Obama, had called for healthier food options after seeing some of the food they are given. With that, schools are still continuing to deliver poor quality servings to their students. According to ATTN, American schools have trouble with dispensing healthy options and meals to their students.


In contrast, other countries, such as Japan, are taught cooking skills in order to prepare their own lunches for public school. Those students are getting a better understanding of what they need to eat instead of the students in America due to those classes. Although the U.S. has some decent options, there is still a large amount of salt, fat and calories present within the meals they distribute. According to Insider, around 30.6 million students in America get their lunches from school instead of bringing food from home, meaning many kids depend on American school lunches for their food input. If students line up for the cafeteria food being served, then they are digesting unhealthy nourishment.


In addition, the restaurant chain, Sweetgreen, had taken photos of the average American school lunch and compared it to the meals created by other schools in different countries. They wanted to clarify the disparity between the different students’ meals. In these pictures, America’s meal included fried popcorn chicken, mashed potatoes, peas, a fruit cup and a chocolate chip cookie. This meal is lacking in extreme nutrition that is needed for individuals who are burning calories throughout the day from learning and exercising.


When looking at the other eight countries’ foods, many will notice a difference in quality and health. For example, France’s school meals include steak, carrots, green beans, cheese and fresh fruit. France’s cuisine is considerably healthy, serving meat that provides proteins and vitamins while also adding vegetables and fruits. This combination is more suitable to younger students who are still developing their bodies and need many nutrients to grow.


Furthermore, South Korea’s school lunches also supply their students with a healthy diet. Their lunches consist of fish soup, kimchi, fresh vegetables and tofu with rice. Even in Buzzfeed’s Youtube video, students argue that American lunches look horrible compared to Korean meals. The international students on screen were skeptical on what was healthy in the meal given to them. The comment section was also disgusted by the lunches America had created. People complained how some of the options given to them at school are worse than the food presented on camera. This just goes to show how our America's education system has failed its students in the nutrition department. Learning how to eat in a balanced manner and understanding the importance of healthy eating is a skill that is prevalent even after one graduates from high school. Perhaps, lack of healthy eating in education institutions is the reason why issues such as obesity and anorexia are prevalent issues in our country, especially in younger generations.


It is also stated that the food America makes is processed which gives a lot of salt and sugar. Eating too much salt or sugar can heavily impact your body by creating problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.


Not to mention, the media portrays American school lunches terribly and how they can be considered gross to eat. This includes kid tv shows like The Amazing World of Gumball and Jessie. Even with social media promoting the awareness, not much has changed throughout the years. Many students can relate to the feelings the characters portray on the show whenever they see how bad the school lunches are.


In order for this topic to gain more attraction, people should support organizations that can bring awareness and make a change. Kids should not be forced to eat food that could potentially harm them.


Hopefully with more activists, schools will be able to provide healthy and tasty food for their students.