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Food For Thought

As many people are aware, President Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, have made a large push for a more health-conscious American people. The most relevant of these actions is the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, signed by President Obama in 2010. This act allows the USDA to make changes and reforms to nutrition programs for children and students in order to create improvement by adding more fruits and vegetables to school meals.

As many of the older students at Shaker know, the food choices here have changed quite a bit since last year; one of the most significant of these changes being the cookies and the bagels. Last year there were two cookies and multiple choices of bagels. Now there are only wheat bagels, and you receive one cookie per serving. In a survey of ten Shaker students, eight of them have eaten the new bagels and/or cookies.

The results of this survey weren’t very positive; in fact, they were quite the opposite– every person surveyed had something negative to say. In fact, nine out of ten students surveyed said they were against the new choices. The tenth preferred last year’s options to this year’s. This clearly poses a serious question– how many students are unhappy with these new choices?

One student wrote that she is still hungry after eating one cookie and preferred that there were two last year. She made the valid point that as a growing young adult, she needs more sustenance for her body. Another said that since the prices of the other snack choices, such as the banana bread, are higher than last year, the cookies are what she buys now because they’re cheaper. 4 out of ten students have the issue that they don’t have choices anymore (this is half of the people who had tried the new food choices); last year there were several types of cookies and bagels to choose from, and these people, as well as most others (including myself), enjoyed that quality. Having the choice of a blueberry, everything, or plain bagel was a luxury that many took advantage of. Every student who took this survey had some issue with the changes that have taken place with these two food items, the main two issues being a dislike for the taste, which is an issue for five out of ten students, or a preference for what they were getting last year, which is problematic for five out of ten students.

Now, when there is dissent in any body of people, there is clearly room for improvement. I propose that we consider bringing back some of the choices from last year. If the law is the driving force behind these changes, then there will be no changes resulting from a handful of students who don’t like their choices. What many people do not think about is how many students are affected by these changes. On a daily basis, roughly 27 million students in the country eat school lunch; now multiply that by about 180 days, and you have a lot of school lunches being served. So, with the new health changes being for the good of all students, why don’t we find another way to solve this problem?

One solution to this issue is to find a compromise. Why don’t we bring back the healthiest bagel choice from last year and incorporate that into the new system? Those who don’t like the taste now have another choice and there is still healthy food being offered to the students, the only difference is that now they have two healthy options to choose from. Everybody wins. Pertaining to the cookies, we could have one day in the week, let’s say Friday, when there are both the cookies from last year as well as the cookies from this year. Then you still have the healthy option, but people can still choose the old cookies if they want to.

At Shaker, the majority of students are responsible enough to make their own food choices. If they want to eat the more unhealthy cookies one day a week, why not let them? If the upper classmates are supposed to be choosing their college and deciding what their career path is– something that will forever alter their future– why can’t they choose from a wheat bagel or a blueberry one? There is no need to throw away all of the healthy food choices; it’s just that we should give the students here, many of whom are young adults, the ability to make the choice for themselves.