We live in Washington State, a progressive and health conscious state. As a Washtonian I am, In stereotypical fashion, sitting here sipping a great cup of coffee at 10pm as I write this . And as a Washtonian, I was greatly saddened by a headline I read via KOMO news. You can read the article in full detail here.
A Kent Washington Middle School student had his lunch thrown away 2 times last week by cafeteria staff. His school lunches cost 40 cents, however, this growing boy only had 14 cents left on his account. This meant his lunches were taken away from him and publicly thrown into the trash bin. Over the past year I have seen this becoming a habit that is moving across the nation.
It’s an outrage for this to happen to any child, and makes it doubly disheartening when it begins to happen in our own state. Not only is it humiliating to the child, it also opens the victim of a “lunch dump” up to bulling from other students. Yes, we could debate the psychological aspects of this, or lay blame with the school or parents. Trust me, you can easily find those heated debates in any comment section of these “lunch dump” articles.
What surprises me though is no one is bringing up the nutritional consequences of a “lunch dump”, which is the area I wish to focus on here.
Children in the middle school age range need to consume between 1400 to 2400. You can see the age break down here. Being forced to skip lunch during this age span can lead to iron and calcium deficiencies and the reduction in calorie intake can lead to a deceleration of growth.In females, it can lead to menstrual dysfunction. It also puts females in a higher risk category for osteopenia and osteoporosis later in life. Skipping lunch at school can also lead to binge eating, irritability, tiredness and could create a life long pattern of dysfunctional eating.
These “lunch dumps” are contributing to a physical decline of our children and could have life long complications for them. Do we really want to be known as the generation of adults that contributed to destroying the health of the next generation?
This is an article that deals with dieting in adolescence. It has some great information on the negative effects of children and skipping meals. I encourage you to peruse it and check out some of the sources they drew from.
For those that are outraged and want to do something to stop this, here are some suggestions:
Contact your local state and federal representatives and tell them funding must be increased for our public school systems, especially in the area of childhood nutrition.
Go to your local school and offer to pay off some of the accounts for the children that are in the red.
One Washington man was so enraged by these “lunch dumps” that he started a local non-profit charity to work on solving the problem. You can find out more about this charity and their plan of attack at feedhungryminds