Major changes are coming to school lunches across the country and some people aren't happy about it. In an effort to curb rampant obesity, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued new guidelines for nutrition in cafeterias.
Many popular items may find themselves on the chopping block. French fries, pepperoni pizza, and even chocolate milk are being removed from menus in a desperate attempt to lower the amounts of sodium of calories in students' diets. The key, regulators believe, is by giving healthier alternatives to get children accustomed to making better choices. Chocolate and whole milk will be replaced by skim and 1%, French Fries and other starches are being limited to one cup a week and more emphasis will be placed on fresh, leafy greens.
Some criticize the new plan. One principal interviewed estimated that the changes would raise the cost of the meals by 14 cents, only 6 of which the government would pay for. Critics argue that the burden is too much for schools which are already suffering major budget shortfalls. Not only would the food they prepare cost more, but many schools have already offset cafeteria costs by allowing “competitive foods” from chains into the schools.
But the stakes are high. This is a country where 17% of children are not only heavy, but obese. And in a country that is getting progressively sicker (this generation is expected to be the first to have a shorter life expectancy than the one before) the schools have a responsibility to be teaching children how to live properly. It is the one subject our children cannot be allowed to fail.