School Lunches Need to be Replaced With Healthier Options

Madelyn Crosby, Staff

School lunches lack the nutrition that students need to maintain healthy lifestyles. Schools need to stop providing such unhealthy foods to students.

First, schools are not providing the nutrients that kids need. The only fruits or vegetables that students consume from the school cafeteria come from a salad bar, french fries, potato tots,or mashed potatoes. Only 44% of high schools in the United States have salad bars. If schools aren’t providing nutritious options to students then students will start to develop unhealthy lifestyles in the future. If kids think it is okay to never eat a fruits or vegetables with a meal, then why would they when they grow up? Our schools cafeterias are lacking nutrition, and they’re encouraging bad eating habits in students. 

Secondly, eating healthier can improve test scores. Fruits and vegetables have a variety of health benefits. A study carried out by the University of California, showed that 9,700 test scores from elementary, middle, and high schools who had started eating food from healthier vendors had preformed better than the scores from the schools who hadn’t switched to the healthier vendors. The test scores that belonged to children that ate healthier were around four percentile points higher than those who hadn’t eaten healthier. While four percentile points isn’t many, it still is a difference.

Lastly, eating unhealthy foods has countless downfalls. The average American intakes ten times the recommended daily sodium amount. High sodium intake can increase your chances of developing heart disease, and sodium raises your blood pressure. We sell sodium packed foods in our cafeteria in the form of chips and beef jerky. For example, a 1.13 ounce bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos, which is sold in our cafeteria, is the equivalent to 12% of your total sodium intake for a day. Sugar can also increase you chances of developing heart disease, type two diabetes, cancer, depression, and a fatty liver. Sugary items also are sold in our cafeteria. According to the American Heart Association, the average woman should intake 6 teaspoons of sugar and men should intake 9 teaspoons of sugar (there are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon). The Blue Bunny Big Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich (sold in our cafeteria) contains 22 grams of sugar. That’s about 5.5 teaspoons of sugar. The Strawberry Shortcake Bar sold in our cafeteria contains 16 grams of sugar which is equal to 4 teaspoons. These are not the only sugary items sold in our cafeteria either. 

Many people believe that if schools try to buy healthier snack options, it will cost more money. While it might seem true, this statement is false. We sell a variety of snacks, but one of our most popular items is the Blue Bunny ice cream. This ice cream is sold for $1.50 in our cafeteria, but there is a variety of healthier snacks that you can purchase for about the same price, or a lower price. For example, you can buy an entire bag of trail mix at Walmart for $1.68 cents, which is only 18 cents more than the ice cream, but it is considerably healthier. You can also purchase SkinnyPop Popcorn from Target for only $1.39. Also, both of these snacks have less sugar and less sodium than ice cream. These healthier snack options are just as affordable as the unhealthy options, so there is no excuse as to why we shouldn’t be investing money on healthier snacks.  

Schools are providing unhealthy snacks that are doing nothing but harming students. If we replace our lunches and snacks with healthier options, students will be getting the nutrients that they need, preforming better on tests, and avoiding health risks. Students at Sierra Middle School need to stop investing their money on the unhealthy snacks that are sold in our cafeteria.