Working Towards Improving Cafeteria Food

A Need for A Solution
Many high schools across America are serving unhealthy foods such as greasy food options. The eating habits of children in cafeterias can largely contribute to a major United States issue which is obesity. In fact, according to an article, over the last 20 years the rate of overweight and obese children under the age of 18 in the U.S. has tripled and is now at 15% (Union Pacific). Not only are schools helping the rate of obesity increase but also health risks are on the rise. Obesity is always the obvious consequence to an unhealthy diet but would you believe that hypertension, osteoporosis and heart disease could be a result of eating bad food? What is even more shocking is that according to the American Cancer Society, getting colon, cervix, gall bladder, and breast cancer can be diet- related (McCarron). Many Americans are unaware of these health risks and the only way to reduce the amount of obesity and disease related to unhealthy eating habits is to educate America.

Healthier Options in the Cafeteria
A nutritional diet in schools in the United States could greatly help lower the health problems seen in Americans due to unhealthy eating. To help their students stay out of these statistics about obesity and other related conditions, schools across the country have taken the initiative to give children healthier options in the cafeteria.   The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been tweaking their guidelines and requirements for the food served at school. They now consider a healthy cafeteria lunch to include at least ¾ cups of vegetables, ½ cup of fruit, 1 ½ oz. of meat or meat alternative, 2 oz. of grains and 1 cup of low fat or non-fat milk. They have also been decreasing portion sizes, to result in lower calorie intake. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is another program dealing with school lunches and creates guidelines for the lunch’s nutrition. According to the NSLP, school lunches must meet requirements under the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The meals served can have no more than 30% of fat calories, less than 10% of which can be from saturated fat. It also requires the lunches have one-third of the Recommended Dietary Allowances of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, calcium, and calories.  These new nutrition requirements in school lunches will hopefully help decrease the obesity rates in America’s youth.

Jamie Olive "Food Revolution"
Making Changes
Kids of all ages have been more encouraged to change the way they view food and eating. From early on, even in elementary schools, kids are being taught how to make healthier choices when it comes to what they put into their bodies. With the implementation of new programs such as Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution”, students can learn about what they should be eating. Jamie Oliver is directing one of the most well known solutions. In fact, he has an entire website dedicated to the enhancement of school food. On his website, he gives access to many programs that are devoted to saving the health of our students. Some of those programs are called, The Fruit Gurus, California Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, Slow Food and the Lunch Box.   Oliver’s program is devoted to teaching people about what is being served in cafeterias and to get activist programs started that demand healthier food in school cafeterias. The program also focuses on improving food corporations in an attempt to produce better products with more honest labels about what people are eating when they purchase food, especially for schools. With a variety of different programs initiated great change can be seen in how the children of today and the future eat in cafeterias.

Other solutions:
  •     Removing trays to cut down on taking more food
  •     Schools teaming up with local farms allows students healthier choices and helps the economy            
  •     Reduce the amount of sugar, butter, and salts added to foods