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Setting Real Standards of Nutrition

I'd like to introduce our guest blogger Cornelius Roberts. Mr. Roberts is 17 year-old student who advocates for Quality Food Justice. He goes to high school in Baltimore. Like his peers who have contributed to this blog over the last few weeks, Cornelius focusses our attention on key issues important to students. Welcome Cornelius and your pointed ideas.



Setting Real Standards of Nutrition
By Cornelius D. Roberts

The Obama administration is currently working to set higher nutritional standards for the food students have access to outside of the cafeteria. The administration is overlooking the nutritional value of foods served in the cafeteria.

The National School Lunch Program services over 101,000 public schools, private schools, and child care institutions. Many local school systems largely rely on the program to subsidize for breakfast and lunches served daily.

In 2010, Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Act (HHF) which was used to update the nutritional standard of foods served in the cafeteria based on more recent science. This was rooted in the need to solve the obesity problem among youth in America. Since the signing of HHF, I have not seen a substantial change within the food program in Baltimore City. I don't go to the cafeteria in my school because of my dissatisfaction of the school lunch.

If the Obama administration wants to help with obesity, then the administration should stay focused on the nutritional standard of the meals served in the cafeteria and only once this is solved, worry about what will be available to students in vending machines. It is painstakingly obvious that our priorities aren't in order in regards to food and its connection to academic growth.

Here's what school lunch looks like; would you eat if you were presented with plates like these?
school lunches

Most of the food provided through the food program is processed, frozen, shipped from other states, and then reheated. Any nutritionist could explain the lack of nutritious value of processed foods and the effects of malnutrition on learning. National and local food programs should be drastically changed to provide student with healthy foods that will keep student energized and focused.

Right #8 in the National Student Bill of Rights reads:

STUDENTS AND YOUTH SHALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO HEALTHY, HIGH QUALITY FOOD REGARDLESS OF WEALTH, POVERTY, OR PLACE OF RESIDENCE.

In order to ensure that the food is of quality and set a real standard of nutrition, produce must be bought locally and unprocessed. Food should be cooked at individual schools by certified chefs and students on campus.

Sources:
USDA: Obama Administration Officials and Nutrition Advocates Reaffirm Commitment to Improve the Health and Nutrition of Kids Nationwide
NYTimes: New Guidelines Planned on School Vending Machines
National School Lunch Program FAQ

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