Students need better food choices
The human body needs food for nourishment. In Southwest Louisiana, we need a lot of food – not only for nourishment, but also because food is an important part of our culture.
This past year, many have argued that even though our students are getting more nutritious food in school cafeterias, they are not getting enough to eat.
America does have a childhood obesity epidemic that has led to more illness and diseases in younger generations. The battle of the bulge has become a trend in this country that is already battling skyrocketing medical costs and insurance overhauls.
So it makes sense and is understandable that the federal government hoped to curb unhealthy eating habits when it increased the number of fruit and vegetable portions that needed to be served by schools and cut back on calories, salts and heavy carbs like white rice and bread.
Though we could all use more fruits and veggies, anyone who handles grocery shopping knows buying produce is more expensive than buying grain and meat. The cost might not mean much to some but many people (and especially schools) have food budgets that cannot readily bend to nutritional needs.
Plus, let’s be honest – sure, kids should be thankful they have food to eat and eat what is put in front of them. The majority of children, however, are accustomed to eating certain types of food. Think about our own dinner tables in this area: rice, bread, meat and a vegetable are usually on our plates. Few of us count portions as recommended by the federal government. Can we really expect any student to eat a small meal mostly consisting of tasteless food then be satisfied?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has not yet released how much of an increase it will recommend for meats and grains in cafeterias (see page one of today’s edition for the full story) but hopefully those increases make up for what our kids have been missing. They do need a full, well-balanced meal not only for basic energy, but also to focus on classes. In an age where the federal and state governments are saying our kids cannot count apples and oranges well enough, why are we giving students less fuel to work with?
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