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School Lunch Essay

1852 words - 8 pages

It’s an everyday challenge to teach kids, trying to teach them on an empty stomach is nearly impossible. We can all remember back in grade school, while eating lunch asking ourselves, “What is this? Coleslaw? Potato salad? Gruel?” School lunches have a history of a reputation of tasting bad. Quality of food has always been suspect. Now, with the dramatic rise of childhood obesity and food-related environmental concerns has led to a focus on school lunches both in terms of the quality of meals served and the educating about food systems, choices, and the impact on health. Most foods are not made on site. They are prepackaged and cooked in a 3rd party distribution site and shipped to the ...view middle of the document...

Without a proper diet children can lack proper brain development and may suffer from malnutrition. It is important for food programs such as these in schools because some students may receive all their meals from school. Without a well balanced diet it could cause a child's brain to not develop normally (Berger, 142).

"School meal programs began during the Great Depression of the 1930's. From the outset, they had two purposes: to help dispose of surplus agricultural commodities owned by the government as a result of price-support agreement with farmers, and to help prevent nutritional deficiencies among low-income schoolchildren. Because chronic disease risk factors were not an issue at that time, the rules specified meals that used surplus commodities and were higher in fat, saturated fat, sugar, and salt---and lower in fiber---than recommended in later years." --Marion Nestle, Food Politics (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2002)

Many children were becoming malnourished. During World War II, the US War Food Administration started setting up school lunch programs and helping communities. Originally, the programs were designed under the idea of lost nutrition; however, The 1946 National School Lunch program provided hot meals for low-income students. Many of these children were stigmatized because they were poor and getting government assistance because their family’s income fell below the poverty line. As mentioned above, another problem with the initial program was that it was tied to the surplus commodities of the government, which lacked nutritional value for children eating these lunches. During the 20th century, whether you were rich or poor, milk was the standard beverage consumed by children in school cafeterias.

In the late 1960’s the Black Panthers set up a free school breakfast system for the children of low-income families, which lead to legislation to establish a school breakfast program. However, as time went by, the further decline of nutrition are predominant in the school cafeterias and campuses nationwide. In the 1970’s, major junk food companies like Coca Cola and others lobbied for vending machines on school campuses. This provided school donations for additional supplies and items the schools lacked. With budget cuts etc, their items wouldn’t be sold in the cafeteria during lunch time but were located around campus for kids to pay out of their own pockets subsidization. In the 1980’s, school populations were at an all time high and the school budgets could not keep up with the demand for food. As noted, schools turned to outside vendors to provide meals to students and additional income to schools. Pizza companies were the first to infiltrate and were followed by the huge soft drink companies. In the 1990’s sodas replaced milk as the standard beverage in schools and pizza became the favorite meal. Many believe these practices have contributed to the increasing rise of obesity rates among children in the...

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