School meals program needs more time | Letter

Sep 14, 2016

Editor, The Beacon:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program was launched about three years ago and, as Mr. Terrill Cox expressed in his letter, has been met with apprehension [“Kids don’t like school lunches,” Letters, page 4, Aug. 31].

School districts across the nation have been surveyed to determine whether the program should be revised to help with the increasing costs they have encountered in trying to meet the nutritional requirements.

I believe this may be one federal program, if not abandoned and funded properly, that may have long-term benefits for the majority of school-aged youth.

The purpose of this program is to provide balanced, nutritional meals to students who buy school meals. Regardless of income, everyone is offered the same food.

Some students come from homes where healthy foods are offered on a limited basis, if at all. So, in effect, this may be their first exposure to food that is good for their minds and bodies.

As with so many aspects of child rearing, repetition is key to instilling good eating habits. Unfortunately, not every child is exposed to healthy eating habits through family education or through their local school. Financial hardships and access to nutritional foods can also be barriers.

The National Lunch and School Breakfast Program was, in part, designed to help bridge these gaps.

Unfortunately, the program’s goals have been overshadowed by calls to toss out these requirements because students aren’t choosing to eat the foods being offered.

Reports of waste and discarded food have “pundits” harking back to the days when students called the shots on what they wanted to eat.

Mr. Cox suggests that students be taught how to make healthier food choices rather than requiring them to take fruits and vegetables they don’t want. In a perfect world, this makes absolute sense.

Teachers and parents across the nation would jointly educate kids on the benefits of eating nutritional foods and, in theory, this would help eliminate protests from all sides.

He also suggests that our local schools should consider opting out of another wasteful government program.

One can certainly agree that, from a historical viewpoint, most government programs have produced waste in terms of money and resources.

Does this mean that after three years we should call for scrapping the entire program and go back to what kids like to eat at the risk of continuing to be the most obese nation on Earth?

I believe this program deserves time to be tweaked and hopefully produce better results each passing year.

Patti McBride,

Mukilteo

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