There is the notion that food fuels the brain, even if it clogs the arteries. As I watch students drown their French fries with ketchup and fill their plates with a greasy burger and potato chips there is one cause that comes to mind. With lunch boxes filled with cholesterol and soda cans cracked open to chug down sugar, unhealthy eating began in cafeteria’s around the world from the start of kindergarten. As processed food is much cheaper to dish out then fresh fruits and meals there is no surprise that the number one meal in schools across the United States is chicken fingers and French fries.
As meals in Elementary schools are cooked to be cost effective rather than child protective the number of obese children and teens only rises. In Los Angeles and New York City schools have noticed a decrease in childhood obesity due to public school meal transformations. While these schools have implemented salad bars and vending machines with fruit snacks instead of Doritos it is evident that implementing a healthy meal plan in schools will only influence healthier lifestyles.
While schools have attempted to introduce healthy eating to students, others have failed to do so because of budget cuts. In San Francisco while public schools have brought in salad bars, they still fail to offer an entirely healthy meal. Defined as a costly project they still offer processed meals. Using frozen fruits and vegetables instead of freshly grown ones from farms nearby is the number one option due to costs. I guess Hostess going out of business is a step in the right direction, but more can and should be done.
While having a balance of salad bars and sugar may be looked at as a positive step it is always ultimately the child’s choice of what they want to eat. So usually they will choice that can of soda over orange juice with pulp. While budget cuts have hurt schools in the U.S, there are countries around the world that have always put education funding as a top priority.
In Japan with a carton of “MegMilk” students can enjoy a bowl of soup, with a side of vegetables with some sort of fish. In France meals are treated as if they were being fed to adults. This includes a fresh salad, blackened peppered steak, mussels, an artichoke and some grapefruit. Although looked at as a big meal, it is in fact a healthier one than what the US might offer. In Sweden students look forward to cabbage, potatoes and some Lingon Berry Juice. In Chile students enjoy slices of fruit, fresh orange juice, rice and slices of beef.
All this talk is making me hungry, so I’m off to make some lunch, but when you go to late night tonight think before you eat that Chicken Patty.