EMU ENGL 120 - Is the quality of school food acceptable?

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Thomas La Velle Mrs Johnson Honors Senior Rhetoric December 13th 2022 Is the quality of school food acceptable PLOP The cafeteria worker scoops up an appetizing pile of muck and smacks it onto your tray Sitting amongst your friends you poke and prod the concoction with a frail white plastic spoon contemplating if eating the goop is worth satisfying your hunger Finally mustering the courage you close your eyes hold your breath and raise the spoon to your lips Now inside your mouth the food coats your tongue with an unpleasant concrete y taste and its slime like texture plasters itself to the roof of your mouth and in between your teeth How disgusting Many can attest to having bad experiences with school lunches Whether it s eating greasy cold pizza or chowing down on slop the amount of gutwrenching anecdotes describing suboptimal eating conditions is unnerving Are these stories truly reflective of the state of school lunches though or are they merely tall tales Perhaps the youth are extremely picky with their food or maybe schools really do serve fodder When taking all elements into consideration answering the question is the quality of school food acceptable is rather straightforward By tracking how school lunches affect children s well being we can get a glimpse into whether or not school lunches have helped students achieve a healthy diet or put their health in decline When searching for a verdict the results overwhelmingly point to an inverse relationship between school lunches and students health In other words school food is a detriment to students Various studies have indicated that as kids continue to consume school lunches obesity rates tend to increase Diane Schanzenbach has tracked this phenomenon In her research Do School Lunches Contribute to Childhood Obesity she stresses that students who eat school lunch daily face alarmingly high rates of obesity and weight gain throughout their years of elementary school Specifically she emphasizes that by the end of third grade lunch eaters are 2 3 percentage points more likely to be obese and six percentage points to be overweight and have a 2 8 percent higher BMI Schanzenbach It s important to understand that all other meals were kept constant EXCEPT for school lunches Some students ate their own lunch while those who were seriously affected ate those provided by their school Therefore the only variable to actually affect obesity levels was school meals A difference of around 3 BMI is no laughing matter it drastically affects students health but also starkly changes their body structure From just 3rd to 5th grade youth can transform from little Timmy to big Tim packing on fat in the gut face and neck while also decreasing athleticism and motivation to be active A singular free meal shouldn t have the power to totally change a child s life and body image so how exactly does school lunch create such an impact on students Nutrition has been a longly debated topic for school lunches While simply using student opinions on taste and texture won t provide insight into nutritional quality legal regulations and standards can provide us with a window into said values One key figure to scrutinize is the United States Department of Agriculture and its mandates on school food As a federal agency the USDA creates federal laws and regulations related to agriculture that supersede any state or local laws The USDA is specifically prevalent in the field of school lunch providing various thresholds minimum values and requirements in their written document Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs Final Rule To summarize the USDA orders bars and checks for school lunches to pass through The expectations are that the meals are low in sodium and fats while rich in vitamins whole grains fruits and vegetables Additionally school lunches must provide enough calories for a student to meet their daily levels All in all the agency commands schools and meal providers to supply students with food of the utmost quality assuring that students receive their daily nutrition intake while also consuming flavorful appetizing foods So if the federal government says something that means everyone must be complying right Therefore the state of school lunches is entirely well Not quite Despite the USDA imposing high standards and regulations for school food impurities still seep through the cracks thus providing students with substandard lunches that so many are unfortunate enough to have eaten throughout their childhood To be exact school lunches aren t high in nutrition rather they consist of extremely high amounts of sodium and saturated fats a direct contrast to the USDA s mandates According to Candyce Norvell author of Why is Everyone Griping about School Lunches school lunches are full of empty calories Instead of giving students a meal that is high in all the necessary macromolecules and nutrients to live school meal providers add fats and sugars to reach the calorie threshold legally obligated by the USDA Because of the duty to reach this minimum calorie value school lunches were deriving not the recommended 30 but 38 percent of calories from fat not the recommended 10 but 15 percent from saturated fats Norvell Fats are necessary for the human body to grow and function properly but when intake reaches excessive amounts those fats give students a muffin top as well as various heart diseases With a high amount of fats being served on a tray to students daily students normalize eating unhealthy foods and carry those habits throughout adulthood thus becoming more prone to diabetes heart disease and obesity But wait there s more Fats aren t the only ingredient to be worried about With the USDA s calorie goal in place school lunch providers and cafeteria workers add refined sugars such as high fructose corn syrup to lunches to make sure students are reaching their calorie goal Graziano While downing Ho Ho s and Twinkies might make your taste buds feel nurtured it s the opposite for the rest of your body The downside of this strategy is that they re exposed to another ingredient that provides no nutritional value while also drastically increasing the risk of heart disease liver disease and obesity If the primary sources of calories in a meal are unhealthy fats and sugars there cannot be a sufficient amount of carbohydrates and proteins in that meal Since both macromolecules are imperative for cognitive function muscle growth

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