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Chelsea Hendricks, Moorhead, Published November 10 2012

Letter: Think about benefit to students of a healthy school lunch menu

On Nov. 6, I was intrigued by the article in The Forum about school lunches, so I carefully read the entire article. As I read through the article, my anger grew about how poorly researched and written it was.

As parents, educators and role models, one of the many jobs we have is to teach kids healthy habits. What the federal government has done is set standards in nutrition to help look out for children’s health and well-being.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 30 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 19 are considered overweight or obese in the United States. Keep in mind that obesity is much more than just being a little overweight; it is being significantly overweight and can lead to severe health problems. The main causes of obesity are overeating and lack of exercise.

High school students are allotted up to 850 calories for lunch in the new federal mandate. According to the American Heart Association, male teens should consume 2,200 calories while teenage girls should consume 1,800. The 850 calories in just a student’s lunch is just over one-third of the calories teens should consume in a day. It is normal to be hungry again by the end of the day and have some sort of healthy snack after school. Dietitians suggest that we eat five small meals a day to keep our metabolism going and fuel us throughout the day.

As for the students thinking the food tastes bad, they are so used to eating processed foods that are filled with sodium that natural, healthy foods don’t seem as appealing. We so continually teach them to overeat with our king-sized value meals that a normal meal leaves them unsatisfied and wanting more. This type of thinking only promotes problems like obesity, heart disease and diabetes, which will inevitably lead to higher costs for health care (which no one wants).

When parents send their children to school, they should expect them to get a nutritious, well-balanced meal. An important part of a student’s success in school is having a healthy mind and body. Eating healthy and exercising will help students feel better both mentally and physically, which will lead to enhanced performance in school.

Instead of blaming Michelle Obama for changing school lunches, let’s think about all the positive things our students are learning. Eating fruits and vegetables and learning portion control are life lessons that they can use every day. Isn’t the reason we send our kids to school to learn good lessons and healthy habits?