California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Let’s Move! Campaign Improves School Lunches

    Every First Lady of the United States takes on a project. It’s usually a social issue the White House believes could use a platform for improvement and change. For example, former First Lady Nancy Regan famously coined the term “Just Say No” to campaign against drug use.

    When it came time for First Lady Michelle Obama to choose, she picked a topic that addresses America’s increasingly sedentary lifestyle. She helped to create the Let’s Move! program, which the official website describes as “America’s move to raise a healthier generation of kids.”

    Overall, the changes have importance and bring awareness to the health and wellness of Americans which has never been a more pressing issue, especially for children.

    According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past 30 years. Their studies found that in 2012 more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Obesity should not be taken lightly as it has long-term effects on health that are both physical and psychological.

    Clearly obesity is a major problem in America. Between a technologically driven culture and the high cost of food, sometimes poor habits are easier, or the only option families have.

    The Let’s Move! program offers nutritional information that gives families tips on eating healthy, exercising, gardening and more. However, what is most important are the initiatives that have been put to law.

    Arguably the most famous and controversial of these laws is the 2012 revision of the National School Lunch Program titled the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. According to the Let’s Move! website, this act is the first major change to happen to school meals in the last 15 years.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture released new and improved rules that boost nutritional quality of school breakfasts and lunches across the nation. Some of these recommendations include portion size, increase in healthier items like grain and vegetables and funding given to schools who cannot meet the requirement.

    What it comes down to is the guidelines set by the Let’s Move! program and the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act are necessary changes in creating healthy eating habits in children. They also motivate schools and communities to harness higher quality standards and highlight the importance of proper nutrition. Guidelines can be set but for the best quality school breakfasts and lunches there needs to be a team effort between parents, the school and the community.

    Some schools have seen fantastic changes such as actual chefs in the cafeteria, or school salad bars, both of which are recommended by the act. One of these schools is La Mariposa Elementary school in Camarillo.

    The PTSA at the school completely overhauled the program and adopted the changes recommended by Let’s Move! through fundraising and parent volunteering, La Mariposa parent Kim Geller said.

    Her son, Ashton Geller, is in first grade and thinks the lunches are of good quality.

    “They’re good. My favorite food is pizza, but I always get snacks at the salad bar,” Ashton Geller said.

    His mother described how the snacks and salad bar are free to students thanks to a community effort.

    Both Ashton and his mom agreed the food quality is very good and they wouldn’t change it.

    Kim Geller said she noticed a lot of wasted food being thrown away. If they could be more scrap friendly, that’s the only thing she would change.

    However, there is controversy surrounding the movement, mostly that the government shouldn’t “bud into” what children eat, but there’s also an issue in food quality, or lack thereof. Students have posted on social media photos of questionable food that look flat out gross. This has caused complaints and bashing of the program.

    What parents and students need to understand is that the President doesn’t decide exactly what goes on your tray, the district does. The government can only offer guidelines.

    “We’ve seen the photos being tweeted, but we don’t dictate the food that schools serve, school districts do,” Sam Kass, executive director of Let’s Move! and senior policy adviser for Nutrition said.

    Kim Geller’s older daughter Jordyn Geller who attends Camarillo High School wouldn’t even eat at her cafeteria.

    “The kids at school think the food could be a lot better. Everyone just gets it because they’re hungry. It’s not horrible, but the healthy options aren’t exactly healthy,” Kim Geller said.

    The Let’s Move! program works and has brought healthier lunches to kids across the country, but it’s important to remember the cost and effort can be high. With a community effort, children in your district can see the better side of the new meal plan and help promote healthier lifestyles in children across the country.

    Mary Callaway
    Staff Writer
    Published March 11, 2015