New food regulations in school are bogus

New food regulations in school are bogus

Sam Medved

By Sam Medved, Jessica Leininger, Allison Skelcy and Amanda Capaldi

Citing the desire to improve child nutrition, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 allows the USDA to set nutritional standards for foods sold or distributed in schools. In addition, new standards aimed to rid schools of allergens include only allowing manufactured foods with ingredient labels to be served in schools, eliminating any unplanned celebrations that may involve food and using food as a reward. While it is important to ensure that children have healthy diets and keeping kids safe from allergy attacks, these new standards are far too stringent.

Homemade foods and other snacks brought into schools are now against the rules. The nutritional requirements justify this by citing the many students with allergies at schools. Everything now must have a label with an ingredient listing. A good rule to go by is: the longer the ingredient list, the unhealthier it is. Instead of bringing in homemade cookies for a birthday celebration, students might bring in Oreos filled with a worrying amount of various sugars and dyes. While this legislation has tried to place a hyper-vigilance on nutrition, it has instead failed to consider the lack of nutrition provided in manufactured food. Under the guidelines the following items are prohibited: baked goods, coffee, bagels and fresh produce. These are presumed to be replaced with items such as Chips Ahoy cookies, labeled Capri Suns and fruit cups.  The repercussions of these rules will lead to an even unhealthier American youth, and ultimately a host of chronic medical problems as our generation ages.

In addition, because of the new food regulations, teachers can’t use food as a reward. During class, a lot of kids are dreading being there and don’t see any point in participating. When candy is offered to whomever gets the correct answer, suddenly a classroom of hands shoot up. However, when pencils or stickers are offered, not nearly as many kids volunteer their answers because to them those things are a “take it or leave it” type thing. It really helps the kids remember the information better when they are actively listening and participating. Candy is a great motivator to give kids the drive to do this. In conclusion, kids don’t participate and are not nearly as into school when there is no food reward.

Many community members might argue that these new regulations are necessary to prevent childhood obesity and to protect students who have allergies. However, the point of school is to prepare students for the real world. After kids graduate there won’t be anybody there to ensure that their environment is allergen-free, nor will there be anyone there to provide them with food that is strictly healthy. If we want children to make healthier decisions in their adult lives, we need to be increasing their exposure to elements of reality in schools rather than providing a buffer.