It has baffled me why we feed children what we do at lunch in school and still expect them to somehow function well. I understand schools are expensive to run. So there is a good chance there will always be something that isn’t funded in an ideal manner. I am not criticizing the cafeteria workers or even the administration in charge since I don't work in a school district. I understand it is a complicated matter, but I also understand it is unacceptable the way it is. Each district is going to be different so there are some out there who do serve better lunches than others. I am not claiming to have all the answers, it truly is up to individual districts to figure it out, and since that is what they get paid to do.
So let’s first think about lunch. In the USA children eat lunch at school as opposed to going home for lunch (which is the case for numerous other countries that have longer school days but longer lunch as well). Since children will be away from home they only have 2 options, to bring in a lunch or to buy the lunch.
Students bringing in lunch works for any type of food that can be kept cool. However if you want to eat a hot lunch you will have to buy, and sometimes that is what will be the best nutrition. At least as a balance, lunch would naturally involve both hot and cold items, so it is reasonable to expect children will buy lunch on occasion. And for those facing financial difficulties, buying lunch may be an everyday thing as it can yield a free or 40 cent lunch. So the point is, we know kids will have to eat lunch at school either all of the time or some of the time. They aren’t adults and don’t have access to microwaves, personal fridges or the ability to go get food as adults can when they work full-time (those without a cafeteria that is). So simply having kids bring in lunch isn’t a viable option. So lunch prepared by the cafeteria, has to meet the standards it would in any healthy or semi-healthy home.
School is of course where children go to learn, develop and grow up. Schools try to endorse compliancy, good behavior, working on deadlines, following directions, team-work and many other things part of normal adult life, so of course what and how they eat the only meal there will leave an impact. It is teaching what the ideal and healthy way to eat is. So the idea that we aren’t providing this is as stupid as teaching children about literature with magazines like Cosmopolitan or People.
If we do nothing, kids will continue to pay for the price of being fed incorrectly. This yields spikes in insulin which can lead to diabetes if it continues at home all the time and if these habits follow them into adulthood. But before it even get to that point it affects them every day with having trouble focusing, higher levels of anxiety, depression and a variety of other neurological components. Many of which get a child labeled as having bad behavior, or many other issues like ADD, when the reality is, we are what we eat. If the diet is changed, then the problems are changed as well. Schools should be setting the standards, should be teaching and leading us down the path of what is ideal nutrition. Because like it or not, that is what they are doing. We look at what we were fed and this will naturally be remembered as the standards we should continue with.