Studies show that kids may eat healthier if they have recess before lunch. Less food is wasted leading to better nutrition which means that holding recess before lunch not only helps kids eat better; it may help them focus more. However, just getting the “wiggles out” and increasing a child’s appetite is not going to get all of them to eat food they don’t like. While some children eat at school mainly to combat hunger, others will still choose to wait until they get home if the food offerings are not up to par. Interestingly, school nutritionists may not be serving what kids want to eat, even when offering such “kid foods” as chicken nuggets, fruit roll-ups, or desserts. Sam Kass, Michelle Obama’s food-initiative coordinator, stated: “When the First Lady planted and harvested the garden with kids and then cooked a meal with them, those kids ate salad like it was going out of style.” Could observations such as this lead to healthier choices in the lunch room?
What about the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign? Is Michelle Obama trying to take away junk food completely? No, she is not! Michelle Obama does not want to take away all of the “fun food” but rather balance it with fruits, vegetables, and physical activity. Mrs. Obama believes that parents are frustrated with the over-processed, low-quality food being served in our schools, and has become a mouth-piece for those parents. Healthier food choices and opportunities to gain in physical fitness should be offered in schools to help parents and their children continue the healthy lifestyle they are trying to establish and maintain at home – and leave the offering of “fun-food” up to parents to enjoy with their children at their discretion.
In her article "When School Lunch Doesn't Make the Grade", Elizabeth Foy Larson quoted an elementary school teacher, known to us only as Mrs. Q., when she wrote that "Lunches at my school are like overly packaged TV dinners gone bad". Mrs. Q was summarizing her experience of eating school lunch every day for an entire school year. She found that school lunches most often consisted of high-fat, high-sodium, low-fiber, over-processed food items. While some may believe that this is a needed effort to get children to eat their lunch, findings suggest that children would prefer healthy, unprocessed offerings such as salads and meats that have not been chopped, pressed, formed, and deep-fried before being frozen and shipped off to schools to reheat and serve as “lunch”.