BY ROSA PRESTON
Unsurprisingly, most high school students want to be healthy, especially considering what’s going on in the world. And during these times, school lunches have tried to help by adding snacks and sides that provide nutrients, but also fill up stomachs. However, students also want to like the food they have, and for many, that doesn’t seem to happen.
In the Independence School District, the website claims that the food they provide is healthy, even healthier than meals made from home. According to the website, it’s even approved to be healthy by the USDA. The staff themselves even claims it’s healthy, with one lunch lady, who’d like to remain anonymous, even saying, “We add no salt, everything is whole grain like pasta and bread. So I’d say we’re pretty healthy.”
At Truman High School, however, some people think otherwise. While it does provide healthy snacks and sides like apple slices, oranges, and veggies, the actual meal don’t always seem to have the nutrients the website claims. Take the hard shell taco w/meat for example, which contains 480 mg of sodium, about ⅕ of the recommended maximum dose per day. The excess sodium is a big issue, as it increases the risk for high blood pressure or obesity. Some students wish there were healthier options. Kallista Boone, a sophomore who doesn’t eat school lunches too often, said, “You’re not eating the healthiest, but I do feel like they’re trying to fit in all the nutrition we need on our plate.” While Adam Preston, a junior who has eaten plenty of school lunches, said, “Absolutely not. I don’t care what the FDA or whoever approves school foods. I’ve read the ingredients, and when your school meal is filled with sodium and grease, it’s not healthy in the slightest. Therefore I will not respect it or think it’s healthy.”
As you can tell, Adam has a strong negative opinion on school meals. And he’s not the only one with this kind of opinion. A study run by Prismatic Services Inc. showed that 77% of high school students (about 1,300) disliked school lunches, and about half said they only ate school lunches two days a week. This all leaves one question lingering: Why do people dislike school lunches so much?
Well, while for many it can vary, there are a few risk factors. For example, the quality, as one student described their lunch as “a gamble,” claiming some things are okay and sometimes it’s bad. Or it could be a specific meal being served too often, or they don’t like the meal being served. “For the first month, we rotate to see what the students like, and I feel good after the first month,” said the same anonymous lunch lady.
There really is no specific issue, as it varies from person to person. Take Adam for example, who claims, “The general problem with school lunches is that they are free, they come from an outside source that adds no nutritional value, and it’s been a problem since the public education system existed.” And while there are a few flaws with our school lunches, let’s be realistic. Nothing can be perfect, and school meals just so happen to have a few extra issues. But the lunches in all schools are trying their best to provide meals that students will like, but also gain nutrients from. So let’s try and give more encouragement and awareness to the lunch ladies, and maybe this lunch issue will solve itself from there.