The most recent State of the Union address emphasized the future success of schoolchildren. However, the USDA seems to be aiming for the opposite of success for today’s youth. The new “School Meals Flexibilities” rule may prove harmful to school-age children. This new plan will only worsen current obesity and health epidemics in the nation.
What is at Stake
National health care costs have risen by trillions of dollars, thanks in large part to Americans’ lack of a healthy diet. This problem begins early in life as our eating habits form. We should be consuming vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes, and whole grains. Instead, we are taking in loads of sugar and processed foods. Unfortunately, children from low-income families are normally at the highest risk. They often rely on school lunches for most of their nutrients, yet schools are failing them. In fact, the obesity epidemic is so bad in children that they are no longer expected to outlive their parents. Ultimately there will be a larger gap between the wealthy and poor. Wealthier families have the means to push for more expensive, healthier options. While less fortunate families rely on lower-cost items that aren’t normally made from the best ingredients. For a nation that puts work into medicine to help us live longer, we aren’t trying to survive on our own. The USDA rule for school lunches brings more health risks than benefits.
The New Rule
Items such as pizza, french fries, and hamburgers make up school lunch menus. Unfortunately, these foods are linked to heart disease and other chronic conditions. The USDA is putting less emphasis on fruits and vegetables to make lunchtime faster and easier on schools. Worse still, processed meat has been classified as a “Grade I carcinogen.” If this doesn’t mean anything to you yet, it’s the same rating as smoking tobacco. Lunch meats are a big part of school lunches, so children are consuming these carcinogens daily. This new rule offers cheaper and easier meal solutions for schools. All the while, this will offer unhealthy options for children. Sadly, blame is being placed on the students themselves. Claiming that children won’t eat healthy foods, a spokesperson for the USDA would rather they be “eager to eat.” The foods they are aiming to serve are normally high in sugar and become addictive. For this reason, it’s of the utmost importance that parents teach their children to like foods that are beneficial for them from a young age.
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