The Fate of School Food

For Better or Worse, Change is Approaching

A school lunch, photo courtesy of CNN

A school lunch, photo courtesy of CNN

Janet Han, Photojournalist

School food has long been a subject of criticism and debate. Some remember the over processed, sugary lunches of their childhood with certain nostalgia. Yet, the most recent generation is set to be left with nothing more than the memory of bland, dry bread and sticks of celery. But change is close, with the new government seeking to completely change the way school food is viewed among today’s children.

The tasteless, albeit healthy, food that is often associated with school food among teenagers today is the result of Michelle Obama’s 2010 movement, “Let’s Move!”. Originally the former First Lady starting the campaign with a goal to create healthier eating habits among children across the nation. The law called to “make sure our kids’ lunches and breakfasts will have more whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and less fat and sodium and set sensible calorie limits based on the age of children being served” as according to the official website for the campaign. While the concept itself sounded like the start of a new revolution in food across the country, kids everywhere started complaining about the reality of the food. Even now, basic cafeteria food is far from glamorous. Sarah Chen (9) remarks,

“It’s hard to eat cafeteria food- most of it is so flavorless or just plain bad.”

Furthermore, CNN reports that “in 2014, students posted viral photos of their unappetizing school lunches with the sarcastic #ThanksMichelleObama hashtag.” These pictures spurred fury among Republicans- most of which are finally finding their chance to strike back.

A series of studies, including one report by the University of Vermont that was published in August 2015, found huge flaws in the new regulations. The study showed that “children consumed fewer [fruits and vegetables] and wasted more during the school year.” In addition, “average waste increased from a quarter cup to more than one-third of a cup per tray.” Now using these statistics as a solid basis to bring upon change, the newly recreated head administration is seeking to potentially reverse the effects of Michelle Obama’s laws.

The issue was recently addressed through the recommended kill list of rules and regulations the newly picked house conservatives delivered to the new President. Among them was nutrition, calling for the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) to be repealed due to it being “burdensome and unworkable”. Further developing their case, the snippet of the list provided by Washington Post mentions that “kids aren’t eating the foods, industry can’t comply with the standards, and schools are wasting money.” Bottom line, the Republicans wants one of the most prominent impacts created during Obama’s presidency to be cut.

Not only school food is being potentially thrown to the sharks – Forbes points out that “ the Child and Adult Care Food Program healthy nutrition standards, the entire National Organic program, the Supplement facts label and regulations that protect our food supply from terrorists,” and so many more programs are at risk under the orders of the kill list. Filled with a grand total of 232 regulations that the house is suggesting the new president repeals, or at least changes, the list is only the beginning of the new era of change that is to be created under the new presidency.

Some may think that it will not be too long before school food is restored to its former greasy, sugary glory. However, the issue of just how negatively this will impact the already fragile health of America’s youth is likely to prevent the new changes from being too severe. But in reality, only time will tell.