Many parents and students wonder what really is in school lunches. High school students come to realize the school board could improve the school lunches in both public and non profit private schools. Most students think the lunches are healthy. They wish the school would improve the flavors of the foods, instead of the food being bland and boring. Students want the food to have pizazz and home-cooked flavors. The lunches that the schools serve are nutritious; they have just enough calories per serving. Many of the food products in schools are already precooked,packaged,then frozen and delivered to schools all across the country.
However, school nutritionists and cafeteria workers do not realize how unappealing school lunches are to students taste buds. Eating a good, satisfying, healthy lunch is important. More students would eat lunch at school if it was worth the money students pay. Most school lunches cost anywhere between $1. 50 to $2. 00 which is a good price for a nutritious meal. Currently the food students pay for is not tasty. While there are some fats, oils, sugars and salts in the lunches; each meal contains healthy and low amounts of these additives.
There are many nutritional regulations that school lunches must meet in order to be served. The Food Drug Administration (FDA) standardizes what these guidelines are. In the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) it states first, each ingredient must be listed and visible so if there are any students allergic to the ingredients another alternative item may be offered. Second, the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and in a consultation with the Secretary of Homeland security, passed laws making science-based minimum standards for safe production and harvesting various types of fruits and vegetables.
The Secretary determined that raw agricultural commodities standards minimize the risk of serious adverse health consequences including outbreaks of potentially fatal food illnesses. Any food products imported into the United States must withstand procedures to ensure the produce is not tampered with and to provide the same level of public health protection as required by law. Lafayette parish School System is limited to what they can and cannot serve.
The schools participate in the Federal School Meal programs including the Breakfast Program, Lunch Program, After School Care Snack Program, and the Summer Food Service Program. In grades Pre-K through high school the breakfast meal provides twenty-five percent of the student’s daily nutritional needs. Lunch provides thirty-three percent of the recommended daily requirement. Any kind of fast foods, carbonated drinks, concentrated sweets, and foods which do not meet the expected Nutrition Standards are not served. In addition no snack food items are allowed to be served during the lunch periods. The students who choose to bring their lunch from home must also comply with the parish school policy.
Advertising of foods and beverages that are unhealthy is not allowed in the cafeteria. Any donations made to the School Nutrition Program must promote healthy food and beverage choices. The Lafayette Parish School System does not want to promote unhealthy habits that will later cause the students obesity; instead they promote healthy habits that will hopefully stay with the students after they graduate. “Recommended Dietary Allowances are to ensure that the menu plans meet the nutritional needs of students based on age (Lafayette Parish School System).
” “Also religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity of the student body in meal planning is accommodated (Lafayette Parish School System). ” Schools must use the required list of food and beverage items that meet the nutrition standards established. For example, schools must serve portions no more than a hundred and fifty calories. Portions may contain no more than thirty-five percent fat, ten percent saturated fats, thirty grams of sugars, and less than three hundred and sixty milligrams of sodium per serving. Schools may sell drinks no larger than sixteen ounces.
The beverage must be a hundred percent fruit juice with no added sugar or sweetener, one percent or skim milk that may be unflavored or flavored, and water will also be available for students. When interviewing the school cafeteria workers at Ovey Comeaux High School, at first they were hesitant to answer any questions. They believe any high school students eating school lunches are getting enough calories. “Ovey Comeaux High School’s lunches are very healthy,” said Cheryl Dixon. This school is one of many which uses vegetable oil to cook with. They also use fresh organic, and some canned fruits and vegetables.
Schools in the Lafayette Parish School district have many limitations to what the cafeteria workers can and cannot serve. “They cannot serve foods loaded in salts, the food cannot be fried, and the sugars must be low (Lafayette Parish School System). ” When speaking to a group of workers about what they would change about the policy the over all opinion was they wish they could cook the way that they want to. If these ladies were to cook the way they were taught more children would be satisfied and full. The fact is, students need healthy meals. Students want meals that are both nutritious and flavorful.
“Statistics show that students who do eat healthy meals have a better chance of getting higher test scores that those who do not eat a healthy meal (Taylor). ” These students are overall physically healthier. “Research has proven that children who eat healthier tend to concentrate better in school, achieve higher scores on standardized tests, are absent from schools less frequently and exhibit fewer behavioral problems (Taylor). ” A diet that emphasizes a high protein and lower calorie approach can boost test scores by an additional five to ten points.
Currently in the state of Louisiana approximately one third of the adolescents suffer from child hood obesity. ” Medical costs associated with this problem has exceeded a hundred and twenty-seven million dollars in the past two decades (Taylor). ” As a solution Louisiana Parish School Boards have initiated removing junk food from the lunch menus and incorporating fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Despite the many efforts the food products served are still lacking in flavor and appeal. A proposed solution could include additional culinary training for school nutritionists and more fresh and local ingredients.
Right now many petitions are being written to change school board policy on what may be included in the school menus. Progress has been made and while the food programs are less than perfect they are on their way to becoming more balanced and nutritious. Works Cited Lafayette Parish School System , . “School Nutrition Management Policy. ” Child Nutrition Services School Nutrition Management. Lafayette Parish Public Schools, Louisiana, 20 Jul 2011. Web. 2 Oct 2013. . “The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). ” U. S. Food and Drug Administration. U. S. Government Printing Office, 23 Jul 2013. Web. 2 Oct 2013.