Food for thought

 


School lunches across the nation are developing higher FDA standards while simultaneously earning an all time low as far as student standards go. The meals provided to students by the school are too small, not tasteful, and not all that healthy. Every state in the U.S. is struggling with this problem, but the CCSD 2’s lunch program is being threatened more than ever. School lunches are headed in a constant downward spiral, but can be saved. With just a little extra time and money, schools could provide better and healthier meals for students.

In an attempt to make school lunches healthier by minimizing the amount of sugars and increasing the amount of vegetables and proteins, schools have actually made lunches tasteless while not really increasing the nutritional value at all. The increase in vegetables costs the school money, so instead they purchase canned vegetables that have been stripped of all of their nutritional value and packed with preservatives and Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is the industrial compound that is lined in many canned food items to prevent corrosion. According to fitday.com, high amounts of BPA can cause endocrine disease, heart disease, and cancer. The highest amount of BPA is found in a can of green beans. Now is that healthy for our children?


Besides the fact that even the vegetables aren’t healthy to eat, they don’t taste good and are portioned into small amounts. Kids are hungry all day long, which in turn is affecting students’ learning. When students are hungry again halfway through the afternoon, they are not focused on the class. Students need to be attentive during class and when lunches aren’t filling kids up, they will not learn or test to their full potential.

Because of this, students and teachers have begun rebelling against school lunches by bringing their own meals from home; making it hard for the school to make money from hot lunches. This has caused the school to raise the prices of a lunch which in turn is causing even more people to begin bringing a lunch. If this cycle continues then the kitchen will eventually be closed down, and even less healthy food will be shipped in. This cycle must be stopped.

In states like Oregon, students are able to grow their own food in a garden and then eat those foods for lunch. Growing their own food will encourage younger kids to eat more of the meals. There are other states following Oregon’s lead that have taken similar unique steps, like urban gardens to improve the food that is provided to students. We need to be the leaders in the state of Wyoming to do the same in our rural communities where people have traditionally been raised around gardening.

We have tons of expertise in our kitchen staff and parent volunteers who know how to grow healthy food, teach canning for healthy food for the winter months and make delicious homemade meals. The community could even come together with the school, senior center, and a local business like Doggett to provide greenhouse expertise, and harvest fruits and vegetables by students and volunteers of all ages. Let’s come together as a community to make a healthier solution for our school lunches.

We have many amazing cooks whose profession is to make meals from scratch. If they used real butter, could grind their own wheat flour, used fresh fruits and vegetables for homemade soups, breads, desserts, etc., it will not only taste better and be healthier, but also cost less. Making homemade food like the school did 20 years ago is actually both healthier and less expensive. This solution will bring the community together, and improve student classroom learning and happiness.

 

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