English III Enriched
The Difference in Nutritional Value Between School Lunch and Fast-Food
Pink slime, gray burgers, enough preservatives to mummify a small dog: all examples of what a child attending a public school could be eating in school day. Although awareness concerning childhood obesity has been spread, the food being consumed in schools is still unsatisfactory. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that obesity rates have doubled in children and tripled in teenagers since 1980, leading to type two diabetes and other health concerns (Yeoman). This is no doubt due to the new fatty foods being produced and served in the lunch room. The National School Lunch Program has set standards on what school lunch should be like, but these standards are rarely met by schools (Curtis). Furthermore, this only applies to the school lunch being prepared, and not for everything being sold; cookies, candy, and chips don't have any requirements. The food that is served has been preserved with large amounts of sodium and frozen in order for it to be stored for months before use, which is very unhealthy. The meat being imported doesn't even meet popular fast food companies' standards, and because of this, it's been concluded that school lunches are actually less healthy than fast food.
Companies such as Sodexo ship large quantities of food to schools all over the country. Because this food is frozen, it can be bought a long time in advance and saved until it's needed. The vast majority of this food has already been cooked, and only needs to be reheated, therefore it can be ready for consumption in a short amount of time. This is very important for large schools with multiple lunch periods because the cooks don't have much time to produce a huge amount of food for all of the children. On the other hand, although this already-cooked, well-preserved food is very convenient, it's also extremely unhealthy. The food is preserved with sodium, or salt. People have been preserving food with salt for centuries, long before refrigeration. Salt works well as a preservative because it reduces water activity in foods. The water activity of a food is the amount of unbound water that is available for chemical reactions and bacteria growth. Reducing the water activity keeps food from spoiling due to microorganisms (“Food Safety and Preservation”). However, it's a well-known fact that too much salt can be a health hazard. Even though sodium is recommended daily, it's advised to be eaten in smaller dosages than typical Americans tend to consume. The recommended daily allowance is only 1,500 milligrams and an average American digests approximately 3,400 milligrams a day. Nine out of ten are getting too much (“The Effects of Excess Sodium on Your Health and Appearance”). Over time, this can lead to extreme health risks. First off, the kidneys cannot keep up with the extra sodium in the bloodstream. Because of this, the body...