A student’s thoughts on new school lunch guidelines

I asked a few students that I know to write their thoughts on school lunch. A few months ago, my son wrote a letter expressing his concerns, and today I give you another letter.

But this letter is a little different. This letter comes from a high school student, who not only understands the value of the improvements, but enjoys some of them as well. She’s not interested in scrapping the new guidelines, but tweaking them to make it fit better for ALL students.

Random shot of an actual high school lunch tray. Can anyone name the major item missing from this tray? (And yes, milk, cheese and bread do contain a bit of this item, so don't get too technical on me.) And by the way, the elementary students only received one breadstick. Lower calorie limits, you know.

(Photo courtesy of Kelsie Jenkins) Random shot of an actual high school lunch tray. Can anyone name the major item missing from this tray? (And yes, milk, cheese and bread do contain a bit of this item, so don’t get too technical on me.) And by the way, the elementary students only received one breadstick. Lower calorie limits, you know.

Compromise? Flexibility? Amazing concepts…and even more amazing that a high school student can see the need, when it appears as if others cannot.

Ashley Jenkins, Ellendale High School:

I can see both good and bad in our new school lunch plan. I mean, some of our meals  aren’t actually too awful. I like the fact that we have more fresh fruits and veggies on the salad bar. Also, I do agree with implementing healthier foods into the school lunch program. It’s not like we’re missing out by eliminating having potato chips as a side dish, but overall I just don’t think this new lunch plan is being carried out the right way.
The biggest flaw I see in this new change to our lunch is the portion sizes. Personally, I don’t need a huge meal at lunchtime to get myself through the day as long as I make sure to eat breakfast in the morning. I, however, am one of those students that doesn’t have sports practice after school. I know these people definitely need much more food than I do.

Also, I know that the elementary student’s portion sizes are smaller than ours. I remember needing a lot more to eat than I do now because I was growing and just hungry all the time. This is why I think the drastic portion size changes were a bad idea. Not every person is the same. Just like every student doesn’t have the same educational needs, not every student is going to have the same nutritional needs. Some kids just need more food to get themselves through the day. I don’t think it’s really fair to give everyone the same portion size, when every individual has different needs.

Also, some of the lunches are a little ridiculous. The worst days are when we have salad for lunch. Now, having salad as a main course wasn’t bad before all these changes were made. Enough things were put on it to make it actually have some sustenance. It would be piled with meat and cheese, and we were allowed to put as many croutons, and as much salad dressing on it as we wished. Now, we get a small scoop of shredded cheese, a minimal amount of meat, and a hard boiled egg. I doubt this measly amount of lettuce is getting any basketball players or wrestlers through the day.

Really, I just think this program needs a bit more tweaking. It’s not like us students are going to have major health consequences if we have cheese on our crispitos, or a bit more meat every once in awhile.

Thank you, Ashley, for giving me your honest opinion, and for being willing to share your thoughts with others.

Pointless? There’s nothing you can do? Not at all. There is legislation being proposed to improve the guidelines. Perfect? Is there ever a piece of legislation that’s perfect? But it’s a good start. And a great starting point.

Be sure to thank Sen. Hoeven from the great state of North Dakota for stepping up for our children!

And be sure to check out more thoughts from my dear friend Katie over at Pinke Post. This subject hits near and dear to our hearts.

I’ll soon be tackling the new proposed guidelines for school snacks. Yes, they now want to regulate items sold inside the school. And guess what? Seconds (remember when they said that hungry kids could just pay for more food?) are included in these regulations.

Stay tuned.