Connecting School Lunches to the National Obesity Crisis


By Justin

Hector Dominguez, a 6th grader at MS 57/James Weldon Johnson Leadership Academy, says school lunches are ‘’unhealthy’’ and they are contributing to obesity.

Obesity is a major problem around the world and especially in the United States. Almost a third of kids in America are obese or almost obese. As this problem is growing more people are helping, such as First Lady Michelle Obama, who created the ‘’Let’s Move!” campaign.

‘’Two years ago, when I stared ‘Let’s Move!’, I wanted to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in our generation,” said Obama.

The US Department of Agriculture is also trying to make kids healthier. With the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, new nutritional guidelines call for “more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, less salt, less fat, and monitored calorie limits,” in school meals.

In New York City, these new guidelines were introduced to principals in a letter from Eric Goldstein, the CEO of the Office of School Support Services.

“SchoolFood has installed over 1,000 salad bars in NYC schools and has reduced the sodium, fat, and cholesterol in our menu items, eliminated trans fat as well as artificial colors and flavors and taken steps to remove high fructose corn syrup from our products,” Goldstein said in the letter.

A large percentage of the week students eat school lunches. A typical school lunch at PS/MS 57 is often hamburgers, French fries, chicken nuggets, and other not-so-healthy foods. So we asked Benjamin Kilinski, the school nurse, if he thinks school lunches could be causing obesity.

“I would think that the school lunches that are provided should be healthy so that it’s at least one meal that you get healthy options, but you have two other meals that you would eat in a day also, so those matter, too,” he said. “So you can’t really say that that’s a cause, but it would be concerning to me if it’s unhealthy because it’s a consistent part of your diet during the week.”

We asked Principal Lorraine Hasty whether school lunches were a priority for her.

“It is important to me in terms of the nutritional value of the food that children are being served in the lunchroom,” she said. “I do have many issues that I do have to deal with so I’m not putting it on the back burner, but it’s not the first priority’.”