By Charles Singletary
The Round Table
Northern High School
Editor’s Note: This story appeared originally in The Round Table, the school newspaper of Northern High School, which is led by journalism teacher William Schrader. The Durham VOICE is proud to serve as a mentoring partner to The Round Table.
The United States Department of Agriculture recently made its first changes to federal school lunch requirements in 15 years.
Some changes of the policy will consist of adding more fruits and vegetables to the menu as well as making all milk either non-fat or low-fat.
The USDA is trying to make meals cover all of the food groups as well as serve healthy portions so that students are not eating too much.
The USDA believes that the portions in the old policy were not as healthy. Some students were consuming too much, which can lead to obesity.
Their solution is to feed yet not over-feed, and many Northern High School students support the new policy.
“It’s a great idea,” freshman Alberto Sanchez said. “It’ll help stop obesity.”
This change will affect both government funding as well as which schools are eligible. Some students think this change is beneficial because one third of young Americans between ages 2 and 19 are obese.
The first change will take effect on July 1.
The new requirement for bread is that 50 percent of it will be whole wheat with one exception being cinnamon rolls.
Although the lunchtime favorites of potatoes and pizza will remain, after a bit of debate by the USDA and Congress, both parties felt it would be beneficial to integrate more healthy ingredients to food.
The USDA feels students who do not eat lunches are more prone to being effected by obesity. Statistics show the less structured meal plan a teenager has, the less control they will have on the intake of carbs.
This new policy will affect students in different ways and many students look forward to eating healthier meals at school.
“This sounds good because most kids don’t get the right vitamins and nutrients,” freshman Jamie Dixon said.
Others prefer the current lunch menu.
“Not everyone wants to be on a stricter diet,” sophomore Terrence Joseph said.
While people see that the government is trying to make an impact, they also believe that it is a bit extreme that parents and students get little or no say in this new policy.
“The road to hell and socialism is paved with good intentions,” culinary arts teacher Andrew Somers said.
The federal government anticipates it will take $3.2 billion to finance this new policy over the next five years.
There are people who disagree with this new policy and feel it should not be up to the government to control students’ eating habits.
“Lunch should be left up to the school district,” Somers said. “Parents first, the nutrition department second, and the students third.”
Others believe it is not a waste but an expense to the government and school.
“It’s worth it because it’s helping students be healthier,” senior Alex Aguirre said.