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Tyler Meidinger, Published September 29 2012

Letter: USDA lunch guidelines certain to make lunches less enjoyable

It was not that long ago when I was eating high school lunches. While in high school, we were not necessarily just given all the food we wanted. In fact, I was usually hungry at the end of each day, and I was just an average-sized student. I am writing in regards to the article titled, “What’s for lunch?”

The new rules set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on high school food are, in my opinion, outrageous. Most kids age 7 to 10 need about 2,000 calories a day, and most active kids who burn a lot of calories can use up to 3,000 calories a day. The point is that the new guidelines limit kids – for instance, second- through fifth-graders – to only 650 calories a day.

So we have to ask ourselves as parents and as people who were in our kids’ shoes at one point in time, is it right that our children be limited to less than one-third the amount of food intake they need and use? I understand that America itself wants to promote a healthier image for the overweight epidemic the country is in, but I do not believe that it is right that we starve our children in school.

Kids have the right to go to school and enjoy their lunches. I think we can all agree that most kids do not like green beans, and offering them once a week to every student (which is mandatory) could end up being a potential waste of food, which is a loss of money to someone, whether it be state funding or the schools themselves.

I have also talked with a school board member from my hometown, and he claimed that schools have no choice, especially in North Dakota, because if they do not follow the program, they could lose federal funding and free and reduced meals. Most schools in North Dakota need the federal funding just to stay in operation, so the new guidelines are a must for school lunch programs.

People should speak up and express their opinions on the topic because it’s not the schools’ fault for making your kids come home hungry every day. It’s the USDA and the guidelines it set that put the students in the situation.

Meidinger is an agricultural economics student at North Dakota State University.