In 2010 the Healthy-Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA) was passed by Congress with the ambition of fighting childhood obesity, a battle Michelle Obama has vowed to fight head on. The act addresses the unhealthy eating habits of public school students and planned to make their lunches healthier with more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, with lean protein and low-fat dairy while cutting back on sugar, fat and sodium, according to the Fact Sheet on the USDA’s website for the HHFKA. A seeming act of nobility passed in a bipartisan manner by congress, what could go wrong, besides the fact that students are literally throwing the food away, complaining about the healthier choices of food, and in some cases boycotting the lunches in general?
The USDA’s fact sheet states that a Harvard study has found that kids are eating more fruits and vegetables, 23 percent and 16 percent respectively. This same source reports that over 90 percent of schools in the country are meeting updated health standards, with further information stating that “virtually all schools continue to participate” with only 0.15 percent of schools dropping out of the program due to “struggles providing kids healthy food”. According to the facts dated from June of 2014, less than one percent of schools in the country have decided not to participate in the program any longer. What could these difficulties the schools are facing possibly be?
Kids are outright throwing their lunches away in some schools, in others, they’re protesting their new, healthier lunches. Since the new standards for school lunch were set, kids in elementary school get to eat 650 calories in their lunch, while middle school kids get a whopping 700, and the high school teens get a massive 850 calories according to an article by The New York Times. The kids and their parents are rightfully outraged, because a hamburger, half of a kiwi, and one percent low-fat milk doesn’t even sound like a remotely healthy lunch, and that is clearly backed up by the pictures. An article by The Washington Times reports that the Government Accountability Office quotes that “Students may take the food components they are required to as part of the school lunch and choose not to eat them.” This same article tells that 48 out of 50 states are citing waste as a “challenge” to this new set of standards. Some kids in Harlan County, Kentucky are sticking it to the first lady comparisons between “her food” and vomit, while also complaining that the variants of milk, chocolate, and strawberry flavored drinks were “nasty”. But it doesn’t stop there, The Washington Times also reports that over one million kids are throwing their lunches away, and in some other cases students were boycotting the new lunches for up to three weeks.
This is an issue that has generated strength in the past years since the induction of the new standards. The question here being does the government really need to tell American children what to eat? That is something that is generally left to the discretion of the parents. Here’s an opinion, instead of congress being able to decide what kids eat, why not ask them and then teach ways to be healthy all while making the food taste great? It is completely unnecessary for the ever-so-disconnected members of congress to decide what my little sisters get to eat at lunch time, they’re not growing children anymore, they are fully grown men and women. It isn’t hard to discover the disdain for these new lunches, from elementary kindergartners all the way to seniors in high school, a simple Google search will show images of nearly empty lunch trays that have yet to be even eaten off of. It doesn’t seem fair, kids say they’re going hungry, and starving children is no way to fight childhood obesity.