School lunch matters

To the editor:

Do you recall someone raving about their school lunches? I sure don’t. I remember when ketchup was called a vegetable. In a recent essay, a student reminded us why school lunch matters. “School lunch may be the only meal some of those children have everyday.” [sic]

My mother used cooking to teach fractions to her elementary school students. It was practical, fun and a way to feed kids who couldn’t concentrate because they’d had no breakfast.

School meals are an important building block for a learning environment. Many North Country school districts qualify for a federal-state program that funds free breakfast and lunch for all students. No hassle for parents; no embarrassment for students. But free school meals are only part of the solution.

Another key part is serving nutritious meals that students actually eat. One Adirondack student described school lunches as “absolutely unacceptable” with “highly processed foods” and “high preservatives.” “Junk food is like straw, it gives us quick energy, but it burns off fast. Good healthy food is like wood, it gives energy for a longer time period. If all we are giving our children is junk food, then they will not be filled. They will be hungry, undernourished. And if they are hungry and all they have to eat is more junk food, then obesity may become a problem.”

Healthy, tasty school meals should reduce food waste. This young writer also suggests composting uneaten food instead of adding trash to the landfill.

(This letter is one in a series sharing the thoughts of young people in the North Country. The quotes are from the essays submitted to the contest “My Dreams for My Community,” sponsored by the Community Engagement Project of Adirondack Voters for Change and the Adirondack Center for Writing.)

Alison King


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