Improve School Lunches in Texas

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Every day, I pack my own lunch, contributing to the $218 billion U.S. dollars of school food wasted per year. There’s also about 60 million kids that attend institutions that serve them food. Out of those 60 million kids, only around 31 million children eat the lunch that is provided. Annually, the government takes in about 3 trillion dollars in taxes that we pay for things like local education and school food, so why can’t they make a better effort to take a tiny bit of money out of the trillions of tax dollars to spend money on healthier, better tasting school food? If they make this investment, schools will be better off because they won’t be wasting as much food; It tastes better therefore, kids will actually eat it.This is something superintendents and government officials need to notice because without proper nutrition students aren’t reaching their full potential. Most school lunches across America are high in fat, sugar, and salt. Experts say these foods are a contributing factor to the childhood obesity epidemic. 67% of middle school students who eat school lunches regularly are classified medically as either overweight or obese.

However, the effects of these unhealthy school lunches go beyond weight gain. A person who eats too much fat, sugar, sodium or processed food and too few vitamins and minerals is likely to develop a higher risk over time for several chronic health problems, including diabetes, kidney stones, bone loss, cancer and heart disease. Active kids who need more calories than the federal limits are also at risk, and may end up feeling weak, fatigued or nauseous during sports and exercise. Research also shows that proper nutrition is also tied to better academic performance, so kids who eat unhealthy lunches are more likely to score lower on tests and have a harder time with schoolwork. That is something no principal or teacher wants so let’s work towards helping all kids better their nutrition and academic performance.

“There are long-term effects as well. According to a 2012 article written by registered dietitian Timi Gustafson, not getting enough essential nutrients at meals may lower kids’ IQ scores, memory capacities, fine motor skills, social skills and languages skills into early adulthood and beyond. A child’s poor dietary habits can even influence his sleep patterns, which may have an effect on cognitive behaviors and academic abilities. According to the results of a research review published in 2004 in the "British Journal of Nutrition," children who are micronutrient-deficient may exhibit more aggressiveness, less mental endurance and lower intelligence test scores.”1

 

There are many things school board members, the state, and the federal government can do about this pressing situation.

We can take tax money that parents already pay for things like school food, but use more money per meal so we can have better food. One of the best things that should be done is buying fresh vegetables and meats from local farmers. Buying local produce not only benefits students, it also contributes to local communities. It supports the economy because money that is spent with local farmers and growers all stays close to home and is reinvested with businesses and services in their community. It is also more nutritious because of the shorter time between harvest and being served at your table, therefore less nutrients are lost. Furthermore, fresh produce tastes and looks better because all of the vegetables are picked at their peak. The meat is also top quality because the farmers almost always have close relations with the local processors, rather than being processed in large industrial facilities.

If you are a student, parent, or school staff member, please sign this petition that is crucial for the future generation to reach their peak.