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Beary: You can lead a kid to lunch, but you can't make them eat

BY HANNA BEARY | DECEMBER 05, 2014 5:00 AM

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As the lunch bell rings, the students are less than enthusiastic to see what kind of food-like substance will be plopped on their trays this afternoon. Their carb- and sodium-enriched meals are a thing of the past. Hello, whole-wheat grain noodles and goodbye artificial sweeteners. 

The latest Twitter sensation has been causing a commotion for school lunches.

#ThanksMichelleObama is sweeping social media with a photo of the daily lunch special (which may have you second-guessing what food category it comes from).

What started this phenomenon? It dates back to 2012, when the Healthy Kids Act was implemented. The act was put in place to dictate how much fat and sugar student lunches contain; what the school serves is purely up to the school district.

The questionable lunches have many students opting to bring theirs from home.  When parents pack their kids’ school lunches, you’ll probably find a bag of high-sodium chips, maybe some sugary cookies, and other items that may not be enriched with whole-wheat grains, as school lunches would provide.

The issue isn’t getting the fruits and vegetables to the students but now to get the students to eat what is in front of them. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, 60 percent of vegetables and 40 percent of fruit is thrown away. Hundreds of dollars are being tossed away with little care.

This isn’t the only time money is being thrown away. Have you ever stopped to wonder what is happening to the fresh fruit and vegetables that students don’t take? Simple, they meet the trashcan as well. Many schools have started a take home bag — or Backpack Buddies — for students from food-insecure homes to have healthy weekend meals. These students are more than happy to be able to take home fresh fruit and vegetables, considering that the school meals may be where the majority of their daily nutritional values come from.

#ThanksMichelleObama has stirred up a lot of commotion on social media, with kids lashing out about their school lunches. The Healthy Kids Act has been set in motion and there is no end in sight. But, of course, there’s nothing to stop kids from passing over the lunch and just stuffing their faces as soon as they get home.

The government is doing what it sees fit for the health of our kids, and the school districts are working within the guidelines they are given. Don’t like the school lunch? Kids are entitled to that opinion. But instead of allowing them to indulge in a non-nutritional meal, parents should follow the USDA’s guidelines and make their child’s lunch a little healthier.

In the long run, the Healthy Kids Act isn’t to help better the government but to help better students see what bad eating habits can do. It has gotten so bad that the government has felt the need to step in to stop child obesity.  It is as simple as choosing an apple over a cupcake, but the choice is up to you.


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