One-third of children in America are overweight or obese, which means that American schools have a big problem on their hands that can no longer be ignored. The school systems across the states are running the red light, and the sooner they change their practices, the less damage we will have long term. Every time I visit schools and I see their cafeterias, only a small percentage of the foods they offer are healthy. And even with the healthy options, they have to be very creative with less sauce and less cheese, otherwise even the healthy options will be high in calories.
Considering the federal government spends approximately $20 billion on food for public schools, we taxpayers are promoting an unhealthy lifestyle for young students because the majority of the food bought consists of unhealthy fast foods that are cost-efficient “cheap calories” provided by the companies that take advantage of the system. By manipulating the nutritional data, these companies are making billions of dollars of profit at the expense of the children’s health. How can you explain the fact that approximately $500 million is spent on pizza alone, which is much more than the amount spent on fruits and vegetables.
One of the reasons that this food culture is in place is because the lunch ladies, the supposed “health experts” without any expertise, are telling decision-makers that the children would not eat the healthier, low-sodium foods. Big companies are hiring lunch ladies to spread these rumors. Yes, of course kids will prefer unhealthy fast food because they’re not familiar with the concept of healthy foods. The majority of these kids have never had healthy foods, so their taste buds are not used to it. But with strong education on healthy lifestyle, with an emphasis on fitness in schools, this all can change.
These are my steps on how to improve school foods and fitness:
- We need more mandatory education on healthy lifestyle and physical fitness in schools.
- We need to educate teachers on healthy lifestyle and physical fitness because the children look up to them as role models and leaders.
- Schools need to create seminars for parents to learn about the importance of healthy lifestyle, not only for themselves, but for their children as well.
- Superintendents should show strong support of the government’s efforts to find healthier food suppliers for schools, whose main interest is not just to make a profit, but to make a positive change in terms of healthy lifestyle.
- Vending machines should have more healthy options.
- Eliminate the ability for schools to strike deals with fast-food chains such as Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s to sell food in school cafeterias.
- Processed foods and fried foods should be removed from cafeteria menus.
- Reduce sodium in foods by half (the current sodium content in cafeteria foods is more than double the recommended daily intake).
- Support the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which will be up for vote in September of this year.