The School Food Needs an Improvement

Have you noticed a dip in the quality of school lunches in the past few years? The unripe fruits or the flaky bread? Well, if you’ve noticed this, you’re not alone. It’s part of a long history of federal budget cuts and health programs worsening school lunches. The resulting outcome has made school food nearly inedible–and that needs to change.

When asked, Aliso student Matt Ostgaard (11), thinks that the school food is “horrible, terrible, and has to be replaced by something better.”

The school food program in America was conceived in the 1940s as a result of the nation’s growing alarm regarding unhealthy youths. Over time, school lunch laws were improved upon and given more funding up until the 1980s, when they were slashed over and over until the nutrition standards were lower than ever before.

Despite the lowering in nutrition of school lunches generally being a bad thing, this era led to much tastier school foods, albeit at the cost of student health. With a record high in childhood obesity, the U.S. government began implementing health-based school lunch acts.

The act that affected us the most was the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. This act promised kids healthy food in place of the previous food by adhering to the proper food groups and guaranteeing nutritional value in each school lunch. This was the healthy food we ate as young kids that was also pretty tasty. It wasn’t the best food but it wasn’t the worst either.

However, due to major budget cuts once again in the Trump administration, school lunches lost their quality in a very detrimental way. This began the downfall of school lunches. The crusty, disgusting, sloppy food that we eat today. Before this year, all of that food cost money. Now, with California passing the California Universal Meals Program, our school lunches are totally free. But even that can’t save how bad it is.

Owen Shen, an Aliso senior, says that “school lunch used to be better, bottoms up.”

Gone are the days of genuinely tasty school food like the nachos, the much better brand of pizza, or the delicious teriyaki bowl. Now the nachos are just chips and queso dip, the pizza is made of cheap, gross cheese, and the teriyaki bowl is off the menu. Our school used to have much, much more options for food, with specials alternating each week. Now there are only ten or so food options, and each one is composed of less-than-stellar ingredients.

The food is barely good enough to be considered nutritional now, leaving students hungry and upset during every lunch period. As a result, much of the food given to students is thrown out before it is finished, causing a large increase in wasted food. The mandatory side of a fruit or vegetable also adds to this problem.

Much of the food is also thrown on the ground, littering the walkways with bits of hamburger or mashed carrots. It is a hassle to avoid, and it gives our custodians more work on top of their already busy workload. All of this waste could be avoided if the school lunches were made just a bit better, but it seems as though that is a distant dream.

Since critical thinking skills are linked to having a balanced meal, students who choose not to eat school lunches are negatively impacting their education. For the school to even properly function, it needs to have better school lunches. 

The only way to fix these school lunch problems is for the government to fund school food programs once again. If that is achieved, then our school lunches can go back to what they once were.